Red Hat’s $107 million virtualization gambit

From the ‘we love Xen – sorta‘ files:

Red Hat is buying KVM vendor Qumranet for $107 million. It’s a big move but I’m not surprised and neither should anyone else.

I’ve been following and using the open source virtualization Xen project for years. Red Hat of course has been supporting Xen for years too.

But now Red Hat is taking aim at every other virtualization vendor – be it Citrix, VMware or Microsoft – with this buy. The argument is simple: The OS is critical and the OS is what Red Hat is all about.

“You may not know this
but most virtualization solutions today use components developed by Red Hat for
their critical functions,” Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens said on a conference call. “These competitors are highly dependent on Red Hat for feature development
and hardware enablement  – no one is better equipped to carry open source
leadership forward.”

It’s all about being a bare metal hypervisor – which is what KVM (developed by Qumranet) is all about. Bare metal means it is part of Linux as opposed to running on top of Linux and the promise is that of greater control, speed and security.

Red Hat argues that neither Citrix nor VMware can compete at the same level. The only one that can compete is Microsoft, since they too control their own OS. It’s an interesting technical argument and one that no doubt Citrix and VMware will retort with public statements and bravado. Stevens however holds the higher technical ground and ultimately the market itself will prove whose message and technology will reign supreme.

So why am I not surprised?

Well Red Hat always wants to leverage its core assets – namely it’s Linux operating system. Red Hat also always wants to be in a leadership role. Ever since Citrix acquired XenSource, I don’t think that Red Hat had the control they wanted. But even more fundamentally it’s always about being faster and trying to innovate. KVM is innovative and represents a new direction for virtualization.

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