Red Hat and Microsoft announced last week that they have completed the cross-certification of each other’s server and hypervisor products. I have been blogging about the need this vendor interoperability for more than a year now and am glad to see that this has finally been completed – another quest that I can now mark completed!
There are some interesting aspects behind this announcement with the biggest being that Red Hat submitted the KVM hypervisor technology included in RHEL 5.4 as the third party hypervisor to be certified in the Microsoft server virtualization validation program (SVVP). RHEL Xen is not included in any of the certifications. As a result, this certification doesn’t help existing RHEL Xen deployments at all. I interpret this move two ways: First that Red Hat is telling its virtualization customers to move to KVM based virtualization from RHEL Xen, and second that Red Hat is done with Xen – they do not want to invest any more than the bare minimum to meet their RHEL 5 product lifecycle support obligations.
I had blogged last year indicating that Red Hat needed to come out and tell the world clearly where it is going with virtualization. Red Hat has not publically talked about Xen since it acquired Qumranet last year. They have not clearly articulated their plans for Xen, but when asked, they indicate that it will be supported throughout the RHEL 5 product lifecycle and then change the subject to the benefits and greatness of KVM. RHEL 5 first shipped March 14, 2007 meaning that it will end of life near the same day in 2014.
But Red Hat’s actions tell the story loud and clear: Red Hat virtualization customers: 2010 should be your year to move from Xen to KVM if you desire to stick with Red Hat virtualization for the long term. This story will become even more clear once Red Hat releases the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) platform sometime later this year or early next year. RHEV consists of a set of virtual infrastructure management tools and cloud enabling components all built around the KVM hypervisor core. It will also include a stand-alone hypervisor that is effectively a stripped down RHEL 5.4 distribution. RHEV hypervisor is planned to have RHEL 5.4 kernel parameters tuned, such as thread scheduling and dispatching, for KVM based virtual machines as opposed to natively hosted applications.
The interesting part of this certification for Microsoft is that they now have two Linux distributions certified on Hyper-V: Novell SLES and Red Hat RHEL. The Red Hat distribution versions certified on Hyper-V include RHEL 5.2 through 5.4. Preparing for this work, Microsoft submitted paravirtualized Linux guest device drivers for Hyper-V to the mainline Linux kernel, and those were accepted this past summer – another huge step forward in collaboration between Linux and Microsoft.
But Microsoft still has some way to go with Hyper-V and Linux. Even with the latest Hyper-V R2 release coming soon, Hyper-V does not support virtual SMP for Linux guest operating systems. This limits Hyper-V’s ability to penetrate into heterogeneous environments.
[Posted by: Richard Jones]