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Red Hat’s KVM virtualization steals spotlight at IBM’s recent Cloud announcement

IBM has launched a new service that lets outside enterprises indulge in software development and testing on its Cloud Platform. IBM currently hosts services on the web like Lotus Live along with a Private cloud option that it launched in 2009. Since then it has steadily expanded its cloud portfolio to include hosted test environments, storage and other associated services. Now along with Product testing and development, IBM is targeting the whole Infrastructure space offered as a service on the cloud (IAAS). Big Blue has clearly ventured into commercial Public cloud terrain complete with a Partner ecosystem like Amazon EC2’s.  Its channel partners will be able to build their services over IBM’s cloud allowing it to offer a suite of web based Software applications.

The new offering comes with support for Linux via Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise from Novell and Java. But what has captured the Industry’s attention is the fact that it has decided to go with Red Hat for its cloud virtualization needs. The Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization is built on open source KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) software.

KVM has been considered by many until recently as not yet fully mature for mainstream enterprise implementation as compared to the likes of  VMware vSphere or even Microsoft Hyper-V .Now with IBM’s vote of confidence in KVM for its mission critical initiative, it could get a facelift as a cheaper alternative to VMware’s virtualization wares along with its open source counterpart, the Citrix owned  and Novell and Oracle  backed Xen  hypervisor.

A few short years ago the now Xen hypervisor was touted as the only viable open source virtualization alternative by big names like IBM and Red Hat. After Red Hat acquired Qumarent, the company that founded the KVM project in 2008, the Raleigh Company completely shifted its focus away from Xen and onto the Kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) hypervisor embedded in the Linux kernel.  The lightweight KVM which includes the latest Intel and AMD chipsets attracted a lot of developer attention last year and benefitted enormously from dedicated Open source projects and even managed to upstage Xen in many respects. With the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 release, KVM is also officially the preferred method for virtualization on Red Hat’s platform. Until now what it lacked was an official vendor ecosystem, along with centralized development and support services. With Red Hat which has collected an enormous market presence even through recession, championing KVM’s cause along with IBM ‘s validation, KVM  seems poised  to lose its experimental status and ready for intensive, distributed enterprise workloads.  Through Big Blue’s new offering, vendors like PayPal get to sample KVM and enlist their support for the technology. PayPal says that it is using IBM cloud test and development service to extend its online payment model into the mobile platform. Portland Oregon company, Collaborative Software Initiative also has used IBM’s latest service to deliver the Department of Education's new Open Innovation Portal .

The Smart Business Development & Test on IBM Cloud will be available in the second quarter of 2010 in The United States and Canada, and it will roll out globally throughout 2010.  


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