This month marks the 10th release of Red Hat’s flagship virtualization platform. Red Hat Virtualization 4 gets a streamlined re-branding to go along with its bevy of new features - features focused on infrastructure modernization, streamlined operations, and enhanced integration with other Red Hat products and solutions.
As I’ve stated before in other articles and presentations, virtualization isn’t going anywhere. While containers are fantastic, we still see many organizations deploying them on virtual machines. OpenStack has also provided another popular option to augment virtualization investments in terms of scale-out infrastructure. In addition, while OpenStack provides incredible power in terms of scale out infrastructure...many organizations are deploying it alongside virtualization.
The point is that virtualization isn’t being replaced, it’s being augmented. Red Hat understands this and delivers Red Hat Virtualization 4 with the understanding that it will likely be part of a larger and more comprehensive solution.
Here are some of the new features of Red Hat Virtualization 4.
Next Generation Hypervisor Node
The Red Hat Virtualization hypervisor has been completely redesigned. The architecture is still defined by a "thin" hypervisor with an appliance approach, but the updated design allows for flexibility when additional software such as new drivers or monitoring software is needed. Customers and partners are able to add new functionality and software when necessary. As with the previous architecture, features SELinux and IPtables are still pre-tuned to help protect virtual machines from a security perspective.
The other big addition to the Red Hat Virtualization Hypervisor is the Cockpit administration console. While Red Hat Virtualization Manager provides great insight into the overall virtual environment, Cockpit is complementary to Red Hat Virtualization-Manager in that it drills down on the hypervisor. Cockpit is designed to allow for faster issue remediation and better insight into hypervisor specific activities. Additionally, everything from hypervisor services, to advanced networking, storage, and subscriptions can be configured from Cockpit. This plugin is accessible from a secure web portal or as a plugin to Red Hat Virtualization Manager.
When logging into the Red Hat Virtualization Manager previously, the default view was the "Virtual Machines" tab. Starting with version 4, the new default is the brand new "Dashboard" tab. This provides a faster "at-a-glance" view into the environment. Additionally this also serves as a preview into what is to come for Red Hat Virtualization Manager over the next few releases. We plan to continue to update Red Hat Virtualization Manager such that the entire interface will reflect the new look and feel.
Red Hat Atomic Host Support
As more organizations move application delivery and runtime to containers, those containers more often than not run on virtual machines. Red Hat Virtualization supports Red Hat Atomic Host. The Red Hat Virtualization guest agent is container aware and will report in Red Hat Virtualization Manager, within the specific virtual machine, what containers are running. This allows users to know where their resources are located from an infrastructure standpoint. While Red Hat Virtualization will not manage the lifecycle of the containers, it is aware of them from an infrastructure standpoint, enabling virtualization administrators to make better decisions based on overall impact.
Advanced Live Migration Policies
The ability to tune how virtual machine live migrations are carried out has significant impact on the overall performance of tier-1 applications. Large VMs under heavy load that previously took more than 5 minutes to live migrate from one hypervisor to another can now take seconds in some cases. Small VMs under little load may take as little as 1 second. This is critical when load balancing large workloads across clusters of hypervisor nodes and reacting to business needs. Advanced Live Migration Policies ties in very nicely with the ability to hot add memory and CPU’s for on demand performance and scale.
Label Based Affinity
While Red Hat Virtualization already has the ability to set host based affinity/anti-affinity, the ability to control this via labels is new. Label based affinity is a way of streamlining administration and configuration time. There are many ways that label based affinity can be helpful, here are two such cases:
- An organization uses an application that has a license that is applied to physical CPU’s and as such, the number of VMs are not relevant. However, any VMs running that application, must be limited to a set of hypervisors (physical hosts).
- An organization has designed a complex application with multiple VMs. Those VMs should run as close to each other as possible.
The label functionality enables the administrator to configure one virtual machine’s affinity, then create an affinity label based on that configuration. The remaining virtual machines are easily configured by simply applying that same affinity label. This is much faster as compared to configuring individual virtual machine settings.
Advanced Networking Features
Working with partners has become even more important. To that end, we’ve created the External Partner Network API.This helps administrators to integrate with SDN partners like Midokura, Nuage Networks and others in order offload virtual machine network configuration and data plane control. This is especially important for customers that already use a third party SDN or plan to, and need to extend that functionality into Red Hat Virtualization without having to wait for either Red Hat or the partner to code specific integration.
Additionally, there is support for Red Hat OpenStack Platform 8 Neutron by way of the native Open vSwitch ML2 agent. Like the External Partner Network API, it will offload virtual machine network configuration and data plane control. This is critical for creating applications that span both Red Hat Virtualization and Red Hat OpenStack Platform. Any application architecture that requires both traditional virtualization and OpenStack will require network integration. The Neutron integration can create an optimal connection between the two environments.
A Modern Datacenter
Virtualization is not going anywhere, and as such we intend to make sure that Red Hat Virtualization will remain a foundational component in the modern datacenter. Whether there is a need to support traditional applications, host containers, work in tandem with OpenStack, or host an infrastructure that provides automated and orchestrated resources, Red Hat Virtualization offers the features and integration required.