Today we made a series of exciting announcements around our continuing virtualization strategy.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 was released nearly 18 months ago and delivered a powerful virtualization solution to every Red Hat Enterprise Linux customer. We’ve seen Red Hat’s integrated virtualization used in all manner of deployments, from single servers used in QA and development environments to large database systems deployed in mission-critical production deployments and all the way up to large-scale cloud deployments.

When we talk to the customers deploying Red Hat virtualization we hear the common themes: they’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars deploying Red Hat virtualization instead of proprietary products, they’ve been able to deploy virtualization on new workloads that previously couldn’t be virtualized due to performance limitations, such as databases and ERP systems and finally the simplicity of a integrated solution : "it just works!"

With today’s announcements we’re adding a new stand-alone hypervisor offering and a powerful virtualization management platform. As with all of Red Hat’s offerings we’ve based these on open source and open standards with the core technology developed by the Red Hat sponsored oVirt open source project.

oVirt Virtualization Management Platform

Red Hat’s oVirt management platform delivers a cross-platform management solution allowing customers to centrally manage their entire virtual infrastructure, crossing hypervisor and vendor boundaries to provide a solution that eliminates the complexity of managing virtualization across the enterprise.

oVirt uses Red Hat’s open source libvirt management framework that provides hypervisor-agnostic management interfacing, allowing the same tools to manage multiple different hypervisors. Libvirt already supports six hypervisors : Xen, KVM, QEMU, OpenVZ, Linux Containers (LVX) and Solaris LDoms and the list is growing. The libvirt standard has been embraced by leading OEMs, ISVs and Operating system vendors.

Before oVirt, virtualization management and hypervisor products were inextricably linked, forcing a customer to purchase the hypervisor and management tools from the same vendor. Through the use of open standards such as libvirt, oVirt eliminates the lock-in of the proprietary solutions allowing the customer to chose their hypervisor independently of their management platform, allowing the customers to build a data center based on best of breed technologies without sacrificing performance, security and stability for manageability.

oVirt provides a secure management framework based on industry standards such as LDAP and Kerberos, leveraging the project. This provides customers with fine-grain control of rights and responsibilities within the data center. This consolidation and standardization of management gives IT the flexibility to delegate responsibilities within the organization, for example to empower business units to manage their own virtual infrastructure within the boundaries of IT security policies. This flexibility removes the administrative bottleneck often present within large IT organizations that prevents the departments or business units rapidly adapting to their changing business needs.

oVirt Embedded Hypervisor

The oVirt hypervisor provides a small footprint, stateless host that can be embedded by OEMs or installed by customers.

The hypervisor comes with advanced features such as live migration, high availability and clustering, support for running Linux, Windows and other x86/x86_64 operating systems but without the up-sell you’ve come to expect from other vendors.

Small footprint
Today we’re building the hypervisor from the Fedora 9 code base, currently the installation is less than 60MB which includes support for all the hardware currently supported by Fedora 9. Other embedded solutions have limited hardware support since they need to write all the device drivers, however by basing the hypervisor on Linux with KVM we inherit all the hardware support of Linux. We’re still working on optimizations and shrinking this down further. If we create "custom spins" for specific hardware then the footprint would be significantly smaller.

The hypervisor can be embedded by OEMs, run from a flash storage device such as an SD card or USB drive. Alternatively a customer can boot the hypervisor from a CD/DVD, install the hypervisor on local disk or even setup their DHCP/PXE infrastructure for network booting.

The hypervisor doesn’t require local disk, when the host boots it registers with a management server and receives it’s configuration information. We use Kerberos for a secure authentication. the security token/certificate can be pulled from the network, retrieved from the hardware (TPM – Trusted Platform Module) or provided on removable media.

Because there’s no software to install adding a new host to your virtual server farm is as easy as plugging a server into the LAN and powering it on.

oVirt is based on the Linux kernel’s native virtualization support provided by KVM, it provides full virtualization of underlying hardware components, scalability to large systems, live migration and high availability capabilities.

Unlike other hypervisor solutions, the embedded hypervisor will be managed through open standards: libvirt and CIM, allowing customers to chose from a variety of management tools based on their needs or corporate standards. Of course you can use Red Hat’s oVirt management platform, but by adopting open standards the choice is yours. OEMs could even deliver embedded virtualization solutions with their own management frameworks.

Today we’re releasing the first beta from the oVirt project and later this year you’ll see Red Hat products based on this open source project.

The beta can be downloaded from