KEMP Adds Support for Open Source KVM
Whether you prefer open source or proprietary technology, there’s no shortage of virtualization hypervisors to choose from these days. With so many options, which solutions are enterprises selecting, and where will momentum in this channel lead in the future? I recently spoke with virtualization expert Jon Braunhut, who offered a lot of interesting observations and predictions on this topic based on his experience as chief scientist at KEMP Technologies.
Founded in 2000, KEMP develops load-balancing solutions. While its focus in earlier years was on hardware appliances, it began shipping balancers for virtualization products as well in 2009. Now, the company provides load-balancing platforms for a range of applications and devices, of both the “bare metal” and virtualized varieties.
KEMP’s initial foray into the virtualization world, according to Braunhut, centered around proprietary hypervisors, including VMware‘s (NYSE: VMW) popular products and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Hyper-V. Several years ago, he said, that was what most customers were using. But in a sign that times are changing in the virtualization channel, KEMP has now integrated support for the Kernel Based Virtual Machine–better known as KVM–into its LoadMaster load-balancing solutions. KVM is a free, open source hypervisor built in to the Linux kernel.
KEMP’s decision to support KVM, Braunhut said, reflected growing demand for this hypervisor, which has now matured sufficiently to be a viable solution in production enterprise environments. This is especially true among KEMP’s customers in developing markets, where KVM’s nonexistent price tag makes it particularly attractive, and where a reliance on proprietary virtualization technologies is not embedded within the mindsets of IT staff in the way it is in North America.
Braunhut made clear that KEMP remains committed to supporting proprietary hypervisors alongside KVM, and that he expects solutions such as VMware to remain highly relevant and innovative in many niches of the market. LoadMaster products also will continue to work with the other major open source hypervisor, Xen, which has been around quite a bit longer than KVM but offers fewer commercialization opportunities because it is tightly controlled by Citrix (NASDAQ: CTXS), which acquired Xen in 2007.
And perhaps most interestingly, Braunhut also mentioned KEMP’s plan to add support for VirtualBox, a (mostly) open source virtualization platform owned by Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) which enjoys popularity among desktop users but has never made a major impact in enterprise environments. To increase LoadMaster’s breadth and make it even more hypervisor-agnostic, KEMP likely will begin supporting VirtualBox sometime in 2013, according to Braunhut.
What’s the takeaway message of all of this? For VARs especially, it’s that as competition among enterprise-class virtualization hypervisors becomes more intense than ever–and as the open source world, in the form of KVM, finally has a robust alternative to proprietary technologies such as VMware and Hyper-V–supporting all platforms equally well is key. That’s something VMware itself has already apparently realized with its recent announcement of support for several competing hypervisors in its vCenter management platform. KEMP is wisely following the same path by supporting KVM alongside the alternatives to ensure its continued relevance in the increasingly crowded virtualization channel.