Red Hat: The Integrated Stack Is Critical

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Embedded virtualisation makes more sense than having a layer of software underlying the operating system, says Navin Thadani

When it comes to choosing a product to virtualise your data centre, the choice can be overwhelming. VMware’s vSphere is the undisputed leader in the market, and recent announcements at the company’s VMworld conference in Copenhagen show that the company is not only expanding its enterprise cloud portfolio, but also sharpening its focus on the small and medium business market.

However, there are plenty of reasons not to choose VMware. As Microsoft points out, the recent changes made by VMware to its licensing model with the release of vSphere 5 earlier this year have upset some customers. Under the company’s new vRAM-based pricing, VMware now charges per virtual machine so, in theory, the more that customers virtualise their machines the more they end up paying.

Furthermore, a lot of IT departments are keen to avoid getting locked into proprietary architectures, and are looking for more open and flexible ways to virtualise their server farms. Others do not want to have to think about virtualisation as a separate unit in the stack, but want it to be integrated with the operating system.

Virtualisation should be embedded

According to Navin Thadani, senior director of Red Hat’s virtualisation business, too much focus has been put on virtualisation – a technology that should really be seen as an integral part of the operating system.

“The industry actually went through a huge learning curve to get used to VMware because, it’s a very unnatural thing to have a layer of software that sits below the operating system,” said Thadani, speaking to eWEEK Europe. “The way the industry has done virtualisation for decades now is the way IBM came up with it – it’s part of the operating system. If you have an operating system, you turn on virtualisation and all of a sudden it becomes a host, and you can run a bunch of virtual machines on it.”

IBM started embedding virtualisation into the operating system on its System z mainframes, but now both Microsoft and Red Hat are aiming to bring the same capability to the x86 market: Microsoft with Hyper-V and Red Hat with its Red Hat Enterprise Virtualisation (RHEV), based on the KVM hypervisor.

“We provide an integrated stack – everything between the application and the hardware, we manage that, whether that’s middleware, the operating system or virtualisation,” said Thadani. “That’s really the power of the solution. The value of the integrated stack is critical.”

Red Hat has been shipping RHEV since 2009, so it is a relatively new entrant to the market. However, the company says that it offers a number of advantages over VMware’s vSphere.

“We are really well known for entering a big proprietary market and taking a huge share out of it. And we are successful because our philosophy is based on open source, and it’s a different development model which allows you to develop better software at lower cost,” said Aram Kananov, Red Hat’s product marketing manager for the EMEA region. “We did it with Unix, we are doing it now in the middleware market, and we are really sure we can do it also with virtualisation.”

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