Red Hat Enterprise Linux is not Enterprise Virtualization

With Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, the RHEV Manager can manage two different types of KVM hypervisor hosts:

  • RHEV Hypervisor (RHEV-H) — slimmed-down to run just the KVM Linux kernel modules and supporting services
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 (RHEL) — full installation with any applications, GUIs, or tools desired

By paying $749/socket for RHEV, users are entitled to use RHEV-H for no additional cost.  However, those that opt to use the full installation of RHEL 5.4 must purchase an appropriate RHEL subscription separately, which typically runs $1299-$2499 per host.

Wow, the cost of all this open source virtualization technology can really add up!

Red Hat Enterprise Confusion

A full installation of RHEL 5.4 provides necessary KVM Linux kernel modules and some basic management tools to create and run virtual machines — without a trace of RHEV:

However, don’t jump to the conclusion that such a RHEL 5.4 host can also be managed by the RHEV Manager — the KVM packages required by RHEV are different and incompatible with those provided in a standard RHEL 5.4 installation.  In fact, for some odd reason, even the command-line tools are unavailable or incompatible with RHEV — the only way to manage virtual machines is with the RHEV Manager.

Don’t just take my word for it, the Installation Guide says it best:

And don’t forget, the RHEV Manager runs exclusively on Windows and the only interface is Internet Explorer.  So much for open source virtualization management technologies.

VMware vSphere Consistency

One of the great strengths of VMware ESXi is the consistent management experience across a range of deployment options.  This is because the same exact bits are used for every edition of VMware ESXi — features are simply added by applying appropriate licensing.  In fact, the same exact vSphere Client connects to every edition of ESXi — from free to Enterprise Plus — as well as to VMware vCenter Server for centralized management.  This design offers a consistent virtualization management experience in every environment.

Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization offers no free edition and expects customers to contend with multiple incompatible variations of the same core hypervisor — each with a different management interface.  Somehow, I doubt that is what “customers are asking for.”

Treat your Red Hat Enterprise Linux workloads to the best — run them on VMware vSphere.

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  1. Ewan’s avatar

    After giving up on RHEV for now, I’ve had a look at couple of open-source alternatives.

    Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud is very slick at what it does, but the Amazon EC2 model isn’t for everyone.

    Convirt 2 with KVM seems to be the closest to what a typical organisation needs for their virtualisation.

    Proxmox VE is the easiest one to get up and running, and has some nice touches, but is possibly too limited for most people.

    The biggest issue all 3 suffer from is getting the Windows virtio drivers installed, it’s simply not as well done in any of them as the VMware or Citrix implementations of windows guest drivers, but the reality is all 3 will deliver a lot more than what the free VMware ESXi implementation currently delivers in terms of functionality.

    Reply

    1. Eric Gray’s avatar

      Did you give up on RHEV because of the Windows-based manager or was it something else?

      Reply

    2. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater’s avatar

      Ganeti?

      It interests me, even though only on a personal level, since my company will only go with something that’s proprietary and expensive to support :p

      Reply

    3. deepee’s avatar

      I said it many times when talking to VMware guys – put out FREE bundle with ESXi and vCenter. Limit ESXi to 2 CPUs per host. Limit vCenter to allow to manage only 2 host. Add HA+vMotion on top. And you have KILLER starter for everyone. Covers 110% of need of small customers and gives nice entry for expanding to payable versions. Essentials (without vMotion) don’t cut it. Put out the bundle I described and it will be instant win.

      Reply

    4. Ewan’s avatar

      deepee, I agree totally but it wouldn’t even need to be free – just make the current Essentials Plus the cheaper Essentials offering, and make Essentials Plus into a vMotion + HA bundle.

      Keep the same prices and I think there’d be very little to complain about.

      Reply

    5. Jason’s avatar

      RHEV will eventually remove the Windows manager requirement. The .NET code came from an acquisition. It’s been ported to Java already, but not ready for prime time just yet.

      Reply

      1. Eric Gray’s avatar

        It’s definitely not ready for prime time.

        Red Hat claims “feature by feature, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization offers best-in-class, cutting-edge enterprise virtualization features.”

        That’s very misleading, so I’ll do my part to help propagate the truth.

        Reply

        1. Jason’s avatar

          I have no problem keeping marketing guys in line. :) Everyone claims they have the best this and the best that. The product(s) speak for themselves, not the marketing slicks.

          Reply

        2. TimC’s avatar

          Might not want to start casting stones over management GUI’s. As a mac user, I’m interested to hear what my options are for a GUI that doesn’t require .Net on a windows box for VMware. It’s news to me if there’s any options besides setting up VMA and doing everything over CLI.

          Redhat has already stated the next rev will be built on Java, and completely accessible from a browser. I can’t say I’ve heard the same from VMware in any public announcement. There may be plenty of things to rag on them about, but management GUI is definitely not one of them.

          http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/osrc/article.php/3873421

          “The Windows dependency will be removed in the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.0 release,” Cathrow said. “In the meantime, we have ported our backend code to Java and we are working now on a pure HTML frontend that can be accessed with a Windows or Linux system.”

          Reply

          1. Eric Gray’s avatar

            If VMware were an OS vendor, that would be a very powerful argument.

            Reply

            1. deepee’s avatar

              2 words for the future: Adobe Flex ;)

              Reply

            2. John L’s avatar

              As a Linux administrator, VMWare is a nightmare to work with. We have homegrown tools that we use to provision machines and have had success with most products via APIs to interface with them via Perl or Python. While VMWare has a CLI for ESX commands (and these are limited), we always find that, to provision a VM from the ground up or get to the console, we need to run Windows or use VNC. KVM allows us to provision a linux (or windows) vm from the gound up on the command line. We can even get to the console over the command line via “virsh console”. With Guestfish, we can customize Linux VMs before they are booted for the first time. All of this allows us to batch produce dozens of VMs by running a script that interfaces with a mysql database. No human intervention required, no mistakes.

              Also, by using GFS2 as the shared storage, the KVM cluster can also run services on the physical cluster machines completely independent of the vm services. You can’t really use VMFS for that.

              In the end, it seems VMWare doesn’t really care as much about virtualizing linux as Red Hat KVM. That’s to be expected. We run Solaris virtualization on Zones and LDOMs, we run Red Hat virtualization on KVM/Xen and Windows on VMWare. Everyone is happier that way and we save a ton of money on all the VMWare ESX sockets we don’t have to pay for for x86 solaris and Red Hat.

              Competition in the market place is good. If VMWare thinks Linux is a market segment they don’t need to nurture, we will be fine without them. From my experience, if you want virtualized Linux, KVM is much much better.

              Reply

              1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater’s avatar

                BTW, have you gotten any sort of x86-based Solaris to run in RHEV properly? I haven’t. Neither the official OSol ISOs or the latest Solaris x86 from sunsolve. Neither in thin nor thin provision.

                Reply

              2. James’s avatar

                Hmm, you don’t like RHEV or Hyper-V.
                Hardly surprising considering who you work for.

                Reply

                1. Eric Gray’s avatar

                  More precisely, I do not like claims made by RHEV and Hyper-V marketing that they are equivalent to vSphere for a fraction of the cost — neither are true.

                  Reply

                2. JJ’s avatar

                  Hmmm….VMWare sounds like Veritas or Sun or BEA before open source knocked their market caps down to nothing. I dont know how this will play out, but I do know there’s a long list of Proprietary s/w companies that said everything all these VMWare guys are saying now. Red Hat’s first RHEL OS sucked…look at it now. As a program manager for the Navy I will always give Red Hat a chance.

                  Reply

                3. Marco’s avatar

                  This may be old, but the incompatible pieces are only the command line and gui pieces. The hypervisor isn’t the issue but the Qumranet based tools, just like the fact that the RHEV Manager currently is only supported on Windows. It is unfortunate, that the Virtualization rpm *group* must be removed and is listed as incompatible as a result of the differing methods of management. You currently have to use either the libvirt / virt-manager way for RHEL 5 or the VDSM / vdsClient method for RHEV.

                  Reply

                  1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater’s avatar

                    That’s what drives me nuts.. Qumranet basically drove KVM and Moshe Bar did a lot of cool work on single-image clustering for Linux (openMosix), and yet their profit generating management suite is all windows garbage?! What asshole made _that_ decision, and can he be visited by an aged moyle with Parkinsons?!

                    Reply

                    1. Shawn Roberts’s avatar

                      Dear “Doctor”,
                      Kindly limit your remarks to the technical, instead of your emotional tirade, which included a reference to the debilitating disease, Parkinsons. My Mother current suffers from this horrible illness, as do many others around the world. You could stand a few CC’s of compassion, sir!

                      Shawn Roberts – Vancouver. British Columbia

                      Reply

                      1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater’s avatar

                        Lighten up, Francis.

                        Reply

                      2. Jhon’s avatar

                        Eric,

                        I’am sure you know a lot of virtualization, vmware and hyper-v, but you do not know RHEV.

                        The incompatible packages you mention are previous citrix/Xen/libvirt packages, so in order to function properly with KVM, they suggest you do not install XEN PACKAGES due to those packages are not compatible with new RHEV/KVM/VDSM packages.

                        You can manage your VM’s without RHEV-Manager, please, try it before continue posting lies.

                        Reply

                        1. Eric Gray’s avatar

                          I’m not surprised that you cannot provide a reference on managing RHEV VMs without RHEV-M, because it cannot be done.

                          The incompatible packages have nothing to do with Xen — they are RHEL KVM packages as seen in this Important Note in the latest RHEV installation guide, also highlighted in the original post above.

                          I’m not sure what your agenda is, but there are no lies in this article.

                          Reply

                        2. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater’s avatar

                          Link please, to documentation on how to migrate a VM from one RHEV-H host to another without any component contacting RHEV-M in any way.

                          Reply

                        3. Alzhy Wziak’s avatar

                          “You can manage your VM’s without RHEV-Manager, please, try it before continue posting lies.”

                          This is absolutely TRUE. One does not need RHEV to build a KVM High Availability Virtualization Cluster. One simply has to use RHEL 5.4/5.5 or 6.0 with the Advanced Platform subscription which provides all the “ingredients” – RHCS, GFS, CLVM, KVM and libvirt. I personally do not like RHEV as well due to the way it names the data stores — BUT with a customised brew – one can use GFS2 and CLVM datastores – firnedly named and aptly customised for performance, etc.

                          And if you use Redhat’s downstream CenTOS release – ZERO COST! Now – that can’t be beat. The same holds true for Ubuntu.

                          With RHCS (Redhat Cluster Suite) as the HA backend to KVM, one can even easily configure the Virtual Machines as a clustered service for easy failover, consolidation (power savings) and load balancing accross physical servers. And the beauty about it is the Physical Servers does not have to be the same make/model/CPU type as I can fail over between AMD and INTEL cpus! If one does not wish to make Virtual Machines as RHCS services — it is quite easy to use say NAGIOS or a hombre script to effect load balancing and automatic failover on proactive impending Physical Server Failures. And since CLI via virtsh is there – utmost flexibility in management and customisability..

                          My site also needs Virtual Linux servers that need more than 8 vCPUs than vSPhere VMs can provide. My KVM Guests can also be configured to have direct access to a FC HBA or NIC that has less drag and better performing than the other hypervisors. ANd did I mention – I do not need to have a vMware Tools that needs upkeep and a recompile whenever I upgrade my Linux virtual guest?

                          So c’mon vSphere/vMware bigots — I am not even pitting RHEV which can just be better, I am simply pitting built in features against vSPhere… And come to think of it – here’s a newcomer – and already making the vSPhere folks and their corporate fiefdoms tremble…

                          One oft asked question — why are there no Big (North America) Names yet using KVM/RHEV? I think it is because of well entrenched vSPhere fiefdoms who are NOT Linux/UNIX pros and who are protecting their turfs and not necessarily corporate interests. But its coming..

                          Reply

                          1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater’s avatar

                            Yeah, and if frogs had wings they wouldn’t bump their asses when they hopped.

                            You could in theory have a perfectly servicable clustered virtualization solution in only opensource software, I have in fact argued for same using OpenNebula. “corporate IT” management said no. Guess what? The “corporate IT” market is stupid and inefficient, but it’s also far more lucrative than the opensource market.

                            For the market it’s trying to sell into, RHEV just fails. If you can do ON/Ganeti/etc, you wouldn’t need RHEV in the first place, so what’s the point?

                            Reply

                            1. Jaime’s avatar

                              Don’t know if RHEV fails, maybe it just a newcomer. Just for the record, the “corporate IT” is Red Hat’s main customer, so it’s just a matter of time for RHEV to improve and pose a threat to VMWare.

                              Reply

                              1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater’s avatar

                                And if/when they do (last I heard RHEV 3.0 was due in March 2011, probably delayed), and if the value proposition is good, it’ll be worth a look at that time.

                                Reply

                              2. Jaime’s avatar

                                I lose 10 minutes of my life reading this blog…..it’s a committed employee rant about how great VMWare is…..

                                I should spotted this earlier

                                “It is not necessarily the purpose of VCritical to be an independent source of information”

                                So, let’s go to read Ballmer’s blog to know about Hyper-V…….. time > /dev/null

                                Reply

                              3. Jaime’s avatar

                                Don’t need to wait for 3.0, the current RHEV can give you enterprise virtualization right now. I have seen the mix (VMWare + RHEV), when the customer doesn’t want to pay license + support just go Red Hat.

                                There is place for everybody, even in enterprise virtualization, despite what this blog try to preach.

                                Reply

                                1. Alzhy Wziak’s avatar

                                  Jaime,

                                  Many people detest RHEV (2.2) because IT STILL COSTS MONEY, it involves a WINDOZE platform as the “manager” (which can change to a Jboss App with v3.0) and simply because it exists (bigotry, indiference to the new kid on the block)! Ubuntu really should have spread the word early on being the first adopters of KVM but that is a different story…

                                  Unbeknownst to most — even to Linux Pros — is that their RHEL A/P License already entitles them to the ingredients of building a highly customisable, open, single vendor stack (no blame game) HA Virtualization that can rival all those Point and Click “VCPros” ;^)) RHEV *just* makes the management and orchestration of KVM better as easy as the 3rd grader that manages vSphere ecosystems. There are others out there that makes KVM beautiful i.e. Proxmox or Enomaly but that is a whole different discussion.

                                  And with CentOS around, does vMware have something TOTALLY free that can provide all the HA features of KVM + libvirt? None! I too have been a long and loyal vMware Server and ESXi fanboi until I got wind of KVM and Libvirt being free and available on CentOS and found out I can build a highly available Virtualization Cluster… it was a no brainer, I converted all my vmdk based VMs to KVM, ditched the pesky vmware tools and my clients are just as uber happy with spending NIL to have “enterprise class” virtualization…

                                  Again, vMware empires and fiefdoms in Corporate IT may very well be well entrenched (weary of their own skin) – it may be a tough challenge even to make mention of KVM./RHEV. In my workplace – our vMware Chief of Fiefdom even was uber worried and always worry by the mere mention of RHEV/KVM…

                                  Live and let live — the world is not that dumb ya know!

                                  Reply

                                2. Robert’s avatar

                                  WOW, seeing the VMware and Redhat guy’s go back and forth reminds me of Linux vs Windows days.

                                  Market share is a hard fact to beat, and VMware has that hands down. I am a Microsoft junkie and I hate their Hypervisor.

                                  I have few Linux skills but I can setup huge farms of ESXI easily and I can cover all the bases from SQL to AD along with hardening… Can’t say I have no skillz… Just suck at Linux is all…

                                  After all, what would VMware be without POSH! :)

                                  Reply

                                3. jaime’s avatar

                                  Indeed. Live and let live. Not everybody wants to pays VMWare unlimited use license – the more you use, the more you pay. I have seen many realities – and sadly nobody holds the true in virtualization.

                                  Reply

                                4. Jon’s avatar

                                  A little propaganda made by a little blog. Waste of time

                                  Reply

                                  1. Eric Gray’s avatar

                                    Jon, thanks for taking time to stop by and leave your feedback.

                                    I’m not sure if you noticed that this post is several years old…

                                    In the future, please disclose your vendor affiliation.

                                    Reply

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