IBM gives KVM vote of confidence with new development and test cloud

The choice of RHEV as the hypervisor for IBM's new cloud computing service could give relative newcomer KVM a big boost as an enterprise technology

It's no secret that IBM either invented or legitimized virtualization back in the mainframe days. So where is Big Blue today in the virtualization and cloud computing market?

Well, this week IBM announced its plans to bring a commercial cloud service offering online for software development and testing. Development and test is a great entry point into the cloud, and the use case has proven to be a sweet spot for other companies like Amazon, Skytap, Surgient, and VMLogix.

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According to IBM research, the average enterprise devotes up to 50 percent of its entire technology infrastructure to development and testing, but typically up to 90 percent of the test infrastructure remains idle. Like many other cloud startups going after the Dev/Test market, IBM found that taking advantage of cloud computing within development and testing environments can help reduce IT labor costs by 50 percent, improve quality, and drastically reduce time to market.

IBM's new offering is called Smart Business Development & Test on the IBM Cloud, and while you might have thought IBM would have built this cloud solution on top of a Xen-based virtualization offering, much like many other existing enterprise cloud computing services such as Amazon Web Services, they did not. Instead, IBM has chosen to rely on Red Hat's commercialized version of KVM, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV).

For those that are familiar with other more established virtualization technologies like VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Citrix XenServer, KVM is an open source virtualization solution that was adopted by the Linux community and quickly added to and included in the Linux kernel. But even though it is built on Linux, the technology supports both Linux and Windows guest environments.

KVM is the new face in the virtualization community, and there are still plenty of questions from many folks out there as to the enterprise readiness of the technology. Even though IBM and Red Hat have long been partners, this still feels like IBM is taking a chance on the relative newcomer platform. The decision to use KVM is certainly a huge boost to the KVM market and provides a fairly big vote of confidence coming from IBM.

Scott Crenshaw, vice president and general manager of the Cloud Business Unit at Red Hat said, "Red Hat and IBM aim to break down barriers to virtualization and cloud adoption by providing customers with a stable and robust environment to meet their enterprise applications requirements. We believe that combining Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization software with IBM's server, storage, and network hardware, plus IBM's well-known enterprise support and services, as the foundational components of IBM's cloud infrastructure offers a compelling application environment for customers."

This is really the start of IBM building out its cloud story beyond what has been used already behind its own corporate walls. To do so, the company will rely on an ecosystem of partners to help fill out its cloud capabilities and initiatives. Companies like RightScale and Kaavo can offer cloud management and provisioning; Navajo Systems and Silanis can provide additional security benefits, while VMLogix can assist with functional and compatibility testing and SOASTA CloudTest can provide load and performance testing. IBM will also begin a series of cloud computing workshops to help support ISV business partners who are seeking to learn new cloud skills.

The company is claiming its new Smart Business Development & Test on the IBM Cloud service will be available in the second quarter of 2010 in the United States and Canada and will roll out globally through the remainder of the year.

Currently, the new cloud environment includes support for Linux from Red Hat Enterprise and Novell Suse Linux Enterprise, as well as Java, and all of this will be powered by RHEV. There is no word on whether any other platforms will be considered down the road, such as VMware's vSphere virtualization hypervisor or Microsoft's Windows Server operating systems and programming languages.

This story, "IBM gives KVM vote of confidence with new development and test cloud," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.

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