Last year I had blogged twice (here and here) and Chris Wolf had blogged once that Red Hat needed to get on board with Microsoft’s Server Virtualiation Validation Program (SVVP). At last, both companies have worked out their differences for the benefit of their common customers.
This is a huge step for Red Hat – something that one would not have thought possible just over a year ago.
What does this mean for customers? The biggest value is the cross platform/solution support that will come from both vendors. Microsoft will officially support its Windows BackOffice products and server solutions (as per the SVVP) running on Red Hat’s virtualization platform. Prior to this, if you had a problem with your Microsoft product running on Red Hat virtualization – you were on your own unless you had a premium support contract (read: lots of money) with Microsoft, and then it was only “best effort” from Microsoft.
Both Red Hat and Microsoft will support running Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) guests on Microsoft Windows 2008 Hyper-V.
But don’t go out and jump on this bandwagon just yet. As of the announcement, the only support you will have is RHEL 5.2 and 5.3 on Windows 2008 Hyper-V. You won’t have Microsoft products as guests on RHEL Xen. This is because Red Hat is submitting its upcoming kernel virtual machine (KVM) based hypervisor product to the SVVP program; expecting certification later this year near the same time that Red Hat makes its KVM based hypervisor product commercially available. Red Hat is not planning to submit its Xen based RHEL 5 product to the SVVP program. Is this really any big surprise?
I’ve blogged about Red Hat and Xen before. The writing is on the wall: Xen is not the virtualization path that Red Hat is going down. It’s clear that KVM is their path and where they are investing their money. However, Red Hat has an obligation to its customers to support Xen in RHEL 5 over the course of its product lifecycle. That is going to become much easier for Red Hat in 2010 since their full support lifecycle is for three years from first ship date (March 2007.) After March 2010, only critical security fixes will be made to Xen in RHEL 5, and Red Hat will have already been fully promoting the KVM hypervisor based solution for better than half a year.
For those Red Hat customers that have invested in a RHEL 5 Xen deployment, they need to make sure Red Hat will offer a smooth transition from Xen to KVM. I’ve likened this to building a bridge across a chasm. Customers want a wide sturdy bridge with safety rails on each side that they can easily move their large investment over to the KVM camp. If Red Hat offers only a rickety rope bridge without handrails, customers will take the competitor’s bridge and Red Hat will lose. Drue Reeves blogged about this with respect to Amazon’s EC2 Cloud .
Red Hat is making moves with Microsoft that will benefit both vendors’ common customers. But Red Hat’s KVM isn’t ready for prime time yet; further dampening the immediate value of the partnership. And we have yet to see how smooth or rough the migration from RHEL Xen to RHEL KVM will be.
[Posted by: Richard Jones]