Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6: It’s All About Virtualization
Repeat after The VAR Guy: Red Hat wants to be more than a Linux company. The latest potential proof: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 (RHEL 6) has arrived. Look under the hood and you’ll find Red Hat bolstering its virtualization strategy with KVM (Kernel-based Virtualization). Simply put, Red Hat hopes RHEL6 and KVM provide a one-two punch against VMware and Microsoft’s Hyper-V. But is Red Hat really ready to challenge entrenched virtualization rivals? And will channel partners embrace Red Hat’s strategy? Here’s The VAR Guy’s best guess.
Let’s start with the back story. During the Red Hat Summit in mid-2010, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst predicted VMware would suffer Sun’s fate. The same way Linux leapfrogged Sun Solaris, KVM will leapfrog VMware, Whitehurst predicted. Whitehurst also said Red Hat was lining up 500 KVM customers in North America:
Whitehurst makes a compelling case for KVM… but VMware, Microsoft, Citrix Systems and other virtualization specialists also continue to gain momentum.
No doubt, Red Hat is in catch-up mode when it comes to virtualization market share. But the company hopes RHEL6 and KVM can help to close the competitive gap. Here’s what it boils down to:
Red Hat claims RHEL 6 is designed to provide a focus on rock-solid physical computing, along with true virtual and cloud activity support. To that end, RHEL 6 includes kernel improvements for resource management, “RAS” (reliability, availability, serviceability), and more power-saving features. The KVM hypervisor can support guest operating systems with up to 64 virtual CPUs, along with 256GB of virtual RAM and 64-bit guest operating system.
RHEL 6 has also been alleged to be as “future proof” as possible, for example, including ext4 file system that scales up to 16TB. Partners AMD, Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Intel and NEC, are all on board with RHEL 6.
Whitehurst and other Red Hat executives have made some bold claims about Red Hat’s progress this year. If you haven’t been following the story, check out Red Hat’s comparison chart to see how RHEL 6 has evolved vs. previous releases.
In the meantime, The VAR Guy’s team will be watching to see if RHEL 6 and KVM manage to grab some market share away from VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V and other virtualization specialists. Generally speaking, Red Hat is the rare open source company that has multiple successes — Linux, JBoss Middleware and perhaps now KVM virtualization. Of the three product pillars, KVM is the newest… but perhaps the most promising since the virtualization market is so darn large.