May 18, 2011, 8:00 AM — Dueling announcements from the Open Source Business Conference earlier this week involved Red Hat in virtualization space, with one announcement setting up Red Hat's defense. The other demonstrating exactly why Red Hat needs a defense as a spotlight shined on a significant Red Hat competitor... a competitor that may soon be making a big release announcement of their own.
First, the defensive strategy.
Today's announcement of a new industry consortium called the Open Virtualization Alliance (OVA), was total reaction to the power of VMware in this space. Rather than watch VMware bully its way to the top, seven (count 'em) seven companies with big stakes in keeping the virtualization sector's playing field level BMC, Eucalyptus Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Novell, and Red Hat gave birth to, er, OVA.
The new consortium will focus on the continued development and deployment of the KVM virtualization platform, which is good news for Red Hat, which uses KVM for its virtual toolset. OVA members hopes the new consortium will attract a lot of smaller vendors who don't want to get run over by VMware or the Cisco-based Xen technology.
The news came as a bit of surprise, at least because of the presence of HP, IBM, and Intel. IBM has a significant investment in supporting Xen, though according to The Register, "all new development will be on KVM."
Getting the upper hand in the virtualization space is very, very important, since the better virtualization platform will have the edge on revenue from the massive data centers that will be the basis of the cloud. This is why we will see a lot of maneuvering in this sector.
Red Hat, which bet big on KVM over Xen, wants to make sure it can ride that bet all the way to the payoff. I'm sure they did a lot of deal-making to get these particular players involved in OVA, because if they are deeply integrated with the virtualization layer, they won't find themselves vulnerable if a virtualization vendor decides to get squirrelly.
And hey, Sherman, Red Hat only needs to set the Wayback Machine for a mere 24 hours in the past to see an example of such squirreliness.
At the same conference on Monday was the other piece of virtualization news: Microsoft announced that CentOS would be an optimized OS on its Hyper-V virtualization platform--specifically Windows Server R2 Hyper-V.
This, then, would be the reason why Red Hat feels it needs a strong KVM environment.
According to the announcement, Hyper-V users can not only run CentOS smoothly, but Microsoft will actually help said customers with CentOS configuration.
The uninitiated to the nuances of Linux politics might be tempted to think "gee, how nice of Microsoft to support Linux. Isn't that nice?"