Red Hat Fedora, Linux 5 To Integrate Xen Hypervisor


Due out this month, Fedora Core 5 will incorporate a more polished Xen hypervisor and support for Intel's Virtualization Technology (VT) and AMD's Pacifica virtualization extensions.

Red Hat also said it will offer an integrated Xen hypervisor in the beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 slated for release this summer, with the final product due to ship at year's end, company executives said Tuesday at an event in San Francisco.

In the interim, Red Hat plans to deliver a set of assessment, migration analysis and planning services for the RHEL 5 beta code this summer. The company said it also aims to launch a Virtualization Resource Center to provide customers with information about virtualization trends and how virtualization technology is moving forward.

Red Hat's Xen announcement was expected last week at Intel Developer Forum but was postphoned until this week. The Linux distributor's support for Xen is no secret. News of Red Hat's plans for Xen emerged in 2004, and the fourth version of Fedora Core supported an earlier, less mature Xen engine for developers.

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Red Hat invited executives from Advanced Micro Devices, Intel and XenSource to discuss the key benefits of Xen virtualization on its Linux platform, notably increased utilization of servers; the ability to run Windows, Unix and legacy application workloads in virtual machines on the same server; and the ability to move around workloads in the event of a failure.

Yet Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens and other executives emphasized that the biggest benefit was the company's integrated approach to virtualization--something that VMware and Microsoft couldn't offer with their stand-alone ESX and Virtual Server offerings.

Red Hat, for example, aims to offer Xen hypervisor as part of its integrated platform, a facility in its Linux distribution that can be managed by the Red Hat Network Management Suite and used by the company's Global File System for storage virtualization, executives said.

"It's a day in the evolution of enterprise Linux," Stevens said. "We're taking virtualization capability and technology and integrating it in the Linux platform. Customers want to treat it as an architectural element. ... They want it pervasively in the platform. Most want it to work with existing management infrastructure solutions. They want to seamlesly integrate it into their environment."

Still, Red Hat won't deliver its integrated Xen hypervisor for commercial use and support until it releases RHEL 5 later this year, executives acknowledged. And while Red Hat executives said customers want virtualization as a commodity service built into the OS, the company declined to comment on pricing and licensing for the upcoming Xen hypervisor or VM workloads.

Novell is expected to announce an integrated Xen hypervisor in its planned Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10 due out this spring. Microsoft plans to integrate its virtualization hypervisor into a major upgrade of the Windows Server that's due out in the next three years.