Red Hat releases first KVM support with RHEL 5.4

Move kicks off Red Hat's plans to earn a significant role in virtualization; by year end the company will add a stand-alone hypervisor and management tools for the desktop and server

Red Hat for the first time included KVM hypervisor technology in a release of its Enterprise Linux operating system, kicking off the vendor's plans to earn a significant role in the virtualization market.

"We intend to invest heavily in this area," said Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst.

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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4, which was made available Wednesday, is the foundation for a larger strategy that not only encompasses virtualization but cloud computing as well.

Before the end of this year, Red Hat also intends to add to the mix a stand-alone hypervisor also based on kernel-based virtual machine (KVM), as well as a set of management tools for the desktop and server called Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manger.

Those management tools are based on technology Red Hat acquired when it bought Qumranet one year ago.

While Red Hat says RHEL 5.4 with KVM is the foundation of its Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization portfolio, Red Hat is not abandoning Xen, an open source hypervisor the company adopted in RHEL 5.0.

Whitehurst said Red Hat's plan is to offer choice, which he says will be the hallmark of 21st Century computing architectures.

"Cloud and virtualization is the next big thing," he said.

RHEL 5.4 also includes support for Intel's Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d) and SR-IOV (Single Root I/O Virtualization), a PCI-SIG standard that lets a single physical adapter act as multiple virtual adapters available to virtual machines. The technology works with Intel's Xeon Processor 5500 Series-based platform. RHEL 5.0 also works with AMD's Istanbul platform.

Network advancements in 5.4 include Generic Receive Offload (GRO), Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) performance enhancements and hardware support, and device driver enhancements such as disk and network.

For system administrators and developers, Red Hat has upgraded its Systemtap performance monitoring toolset, which supports profiling and monitoring C++ applications. Red Hat has also included a number of static kernel tracepoints to simplify performance observation for the highest profile kernel subsystems.

RHEL 5.4 also includes a preview implementation of the malloc memory allocation library optimized for multicore processors.

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This story, "Red Hat releases first KVM support with RHEL 5.4" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.