Subscribe to the feed

Today we are excited to announce updates to Red Hat OpenShift support for mixed applications running on virtual machines (“VMs”) and containers. Previously known as container-native virtualization (“CNV”), OpenShift virtualization is a feature of the OpenShift platform that enables your teams to modernize and accelerate application delivery by bringing traditional VMs into OpenShift where they run side by side with containers, and be managed as native Kubernetes objects, all on the OpenShift platform, all by the same team(s). Traditional VM-based workloads can be added to new and existing applications where they can then be decomposed into microservices on containers over time, or maintained as VMs where appropriate.

This empowers you to work with flexibility and agility to quickly solve problems and meet rapidly changing business requirements while lightening the burden that comes with integrating and maintaining new and legacy systems and supporting platforms.

Why is this important and what does it mean for operators and developers?

In talking with the Red Hat community, customers and partners about the problems you face, a universal theme is that your ability to create value for customers, both internal and external, depends on your ability to deliver applications faster and to manage them more efficiently. Regardless of life cycle stage, applications and workloads play a key role in how your business responds to market and competitive pressures. Often an organization’s ability to adapt is closely tied to how quickly their operations and development teams can deploy innovative solutions or implement updates to existing systems that service business-critical people, places or things. This gazelle-like agility helps a business differentiate itself, engage customers, and find revenue opportunities, especially in times of uncertainty. The need to respond is often measured in hours versus days or weeks.

Solving these problems, and quickly turning ideas into implementation adds business value and enables you to contribute directly to the success of customers.

With OpenShift virtualization you can now:

  • Bring VMs to OpenShift - OpenShift virtualization supports Linux and Windows guests applications running on current and older versions of these operating systems can be modernized now and deployed and managed as first-class citizens using native Kubernetes tools built into the OpenShift platform. OpenShift also provides an Import Virtual Machine wizard so VMs, and the applications running on them, can be migrated from vSphere, Red Hat virtualization, and Red Hat OpenStack Platform directly to OpenShift. You can also use the Import feature to import reusable templates for immediate use or when creating new VMs from the OpenShift virtualization management console.


  • Deliver mixed applications, all on the OpenShift platform, all by the same team(s) - OpenShift virtualization enables you to add VM workloads to new and existing applications consisting of VMs, containers and serverless deployments. This agility enables your development teams to build, deploy, and integrate application delivery using modern processes, automation, and CI/CD lifecycle workflows consistent with operational policies and standards.
  • Modernize VMs to containers, over time, or not - Most organizations have a large investment in VMs, the applications they run and the infrastructure and processes that manage and maintain them. An all-or-nothing approach to modernizing applications on containers is often not feasible and too slow. OpenShift virtualization allows for an immediate, calculated path to modernization for VM workloads. You can proactively move applications now and manage them side-by-side with the latest innovations in Kubernetes and other open source cloud-native technologies. OpenShift virtualization is also the perfect solution for developers challenged with supporting applications and VMs that will never be converted to containers due to complexity or time-boxed shelf life. These can continue to run as VMs until they can be replatformed for containers or they reach their natural end of life.

What’s in it for Operators?

OpenShift virtualization is designed to modernize and simplify your datacenter. As you move VMs and applications to OpenShift you are able to systematically turn them off, along with the virtual management control plane, in other parts of your infrastructure. The benefits of this are many:

  • Consistency of management, simplicity, operational ease of use - With OpenShift support for VMs, containers and serverless you can align your team’s time and efforts on a single application delivery platform, a simplified operational model and a new level of collaboration with development teams. Fewer moving parts in the data center result in less complexity and more productivity for all involved.
  • Roll operational efficiency into collaboration and innovation - OpenShift virtualization enables developers to modernize legacy VM applications on OpenShift and you to scale your operations team and resources with the forward-looking, container-first advantages of Kubernetes. You also gain operational efficiencies by leveraging existing and future investments in OpenShift to manage mixed workloads running across Linux and Windows. Your team can support and collaborate more with developers in their application modernization efforts. Operational efficiency = less legacy maintenance, more collaboration and innovation.
  • Investment in and modernization of your own skillset - What better way to motivate yourself and your team on career progression and opportunities than learning about and becoming adept with the innovation that powers the emerging technologies of today and tomorrow? The de-facto standard for innovation is defined in open source, Kubernetes, containers and the ecosystem that is exploding around you.

In addition, OpenShift virtualization enables you to leverage the Kubernetes-native APIs and shared compute, storage and networking services exposed by the OpenShift platform, making VM integration with existing resources a seamless experience. See this OpenShift virtualization technical overview for more details.

What’s in it for Developers?

While on the surface OpenShift virtualization seems geared for operators, there are key advantages for developers, especially those currently tasked with integrating legacy systems (which are typically hosted on traditional VMs) with new or existing container-based deployments. Unpacking this problem reveals these advantages specific to developers:

  • OpenShift provides consistent development tools and processes - With OpenShift support for VMs, containers and serverless, you are enabled to standardize your development process and tools. Your teams can use the same pipelines for applications in VMs, containers or function regardless of where they run: a laptop, on-premise, hybrid, public or private cloud. This consistency reduces errors and allows you to move from project-to-project without having to learn new processes. The best part - you can use your current toolset in OpenShift, and progressively update pieces of it with innovative Kubernetes-specific tools over time.
  • Modernize and integrate your legacy systems NOW - Despite your best efforts, most of your new application projects will have dependencies on legacy components. Rather than struggling to connect across multiple platforms for development and management, OpenShift virtualization makes VMs a first class citizen alongside OpenShift managed containers. Once workloads are migrated to OpenShift virtualization you can use Red Hat Code Ready Workspaces and Fuse Online’s drag & drop tooling to integrate the VMs with your new applications and services.
  • Support for applications running on older versions of Windows - Kubernetes v1.14 and higher supports worker nodes on Windows Server 2019 and higher. To address immediate needs, the OpenShift virtualization support matrix for Linux and Windows guests aligns with Red Hat virtualization and Red Hat OpenStack Platform in support of older versions of Windows. With this in mind, you can easily integrate existing .NET applications, Microsoft SQL Server databases, Exchange and file servers, etc., running on traditional VMs with new, container-based projects. None of this requires changes or upgrades to the application or the OS the application is running on. You can manage old and new applications side-by-side in the same platform and progressively replatform or refactor older Windows VM applications into Windows containers (Dev Preview in OpenShift Container Platform 4.4) when the time is right.

What’s in it for VMware customers?

OpenShift and OpenShift virtualization allows VMware customers to standardize on a single application development and management platform stack, built on the innovation of open source and the agility and performance of a pure Kubernetes-native infrastructure. This is a huge difference in how Red Hat approaches enabling your application modernization aspirations, now and in the future. The value prop of OpenShift’s Kubernetes-native container centric versus VM centric foundation provides a forward-leaning, future proof, sustainable model as your developers continue to press container-based development and operational models and requirements into the datacenter. In addition, OpenShift virtualization is a feature of OpenShift and is engineered, deployed, managed and updated using the OpenShift Operator framework, which greatly simplifies lifecycle management of atomic features and components (from Red Hat, Red Hat partners and the larger Kubernetes ecosystem) that make the OpenShift platform. OpenShift virtualization is included as part of the core OpenShift platform so there are no additional costs when deploying the operator on a new or existing OpenShift cluster.

Lastly, open source is in our Red Hat DNA and every keystroke behind the Red Hat portfolio, including Red Hat OpenShift with OpenShift virtualization, has been and will continue to be contributed to the upstream open source communities we serve. Red Hat has worked more than 25 years to establish credibility in the open source and enterprise software space and we believe we are well positioned as a company to continue to lead where we lead today and to expand our contributions and leadership within the emerging communities and ecosystems that are driving cutting edge innovation for today and tomorrow, ultimately to the benefit of our customers.

Red Hat Portfolio integration

As mentioned earlier, OpenShift virtualization is a feature of OpenShift Container Platform and is delivered, integrated and managed via the OpenShift Operator framework. We recognize that many Red Hat customers currently use Red Hat Virtualization (“RHV”) to run and manage their VMs. With this in mind, starting with RHV 4.4 (now in beta), we are introducing tight integration with OpenShift and OpenShift virtualization that enables RHV and OpenShift virtualization VMs to be managed side-by-side in the RHV Manager console. Technically, this is made possible by enabling OpenShift to leverage KubeVirt to interface with the same QEMU and KVM components that are used in the RHV stack.


With RHV 4.4, the RHV Manager allows you to easily add an existing OpenShift virtualization cluster as an external provider and then to perform basic management of underlying VMs side-by-side with RHV VMs. This integration allows you to continue managing where your applications are today while visualizing and acting on where they will be managed in the future.


OpenShift virtualization is also tightly integrated with OpenShift Container Storage to provide a consistent experience for developing and deploying stateful applications. OpenShift Container Storage provides persistent storage for applications - whether they are being developed and deployed on-premise or in the cloud. OpenShift virtualization uses standard Kubernetes storage protocols to attach and manage VM disks presented by this persistent storage, to enable you to manage both containers and virtual machines in a consistent manner.

The future of virtualization from Red Hat

With the introduction of OpenShift virtualization, the Red Hat portfolio provides virtualization solutions across multiple hybrid-cloud use cases:


Red Hat virtualization (“RHV”) and Red Hat OpenStack Platform (“RHOSP”) solve problems that are not going away anytime soon, so our plan is to continue to invest in these use cases with a focus on rock-solid stability, performance and scalability. These platforms are also the primary landing spots for customers who migrate from VMware to Red Hat Infrastructure via the Red Hat infrastructure migration solution, so they will continue to provide the long-term support and stability that characterizes the Red Hat product line, while at the same time continue to evolve as path to application modernization and OpenShift with OpenShift virtualization.

In parallel, we are pivoting to a platform versus product specific strategy and plan for virtualization from Red Hat. This is demonstrable now in our early delivery of Red Hat virtualization integration with OpenShift virtualization and in the plans underway to build on this to provide portfolio integration with Red Hat Migration analytics and advanced VM and workload migration tooling in future versions of Red Hat virtualization and Red Hat OpenStack Platform. Delivery timeframes are yet to be determined, just know that our current plan and future roadmap for virtualization from Red Hat is very vibrant and designed to provide an easy path for customers to modernize their applications regardless of where they currently run or where they are planned to run in the future. Continue to follow the OpenShift blog for updates on these and other developments as our plan continues to evolve.

Get it, see it in action

OpenShift virtualization is available now in OpenShift Container Platform 4; if you are a current OpenShift customer you have access to it as part of your current subscription. There is no additional cost or entitlement needed to begin using it now. That said, the most current features and functionality are available in 4.4, so you may want to consider the upgrade. In 4.4 OpenShift virtualization is Tech Preview, however it has been promoted to high touch beta status as we put the final touches on production-readiness. The fully supported, generally available version of OpenShift Container Platform with OpenShift virtualization is targeted for the second half of calendar year 2020.

Some resources you may find useful are here:


About the author


Browse by channel

automation icon


The latest on IT automation for tech, teams, and environments

AI icon

Artificial intelligence

Updates on the platforms that free customers to run AI workloads anywhere

open hybrid cloud icon

Open hybrid cloud

Explore how we build a more flexible future with hybrid cloud

security icon


The latest on how we reduce risks across environments and technologies

edge icon

Edge computing

Updates on the platforms that simplify operations at the edge

Infrastructure icon


The latest on the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform

application development icon


Inside our solutions to the toughest application challenges

Original series icon

Original shows

Entertaining stories from the makers and leaders in enterprise tech