What is Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization?

Virtualization experts know that Red Hat has abandoned Xen in favor of the younger, hipper Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 (RHEL) — which was released last September — marks the official beginning of their new virtualization era.

Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 2.1 (RHEV), released in November 2009, is a new product from Red Hat — essentially an update to the management tools acquired along with Qumranet in 2008.  RHEV consists of two main elements: RHEV Manager and RHEV Hypervisor.  RHEV Hypervisor is a slimmed-down version of RHEL 5.4 designed to function solely as a KVM hypervisor.

RHEV Manager, on the other hand, has nothing to do with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.  Unbelievably, the product runs exclusively on Windows Server 2003, is based on .NET, and is only accessible with Internet Explorer.  I know this sounds like Bizarro World, but it’s true!

One Hypervisor is not Enough?

Red Hat CEO, Jim Whitehurst — evidently borrowing some pages from the Microsoft Virtualization playbook — claims that customers want an alternative to VMware vSphere so they do not need to be completely dependent on one hypervisor.  Since it is practically impossible to get a single one of the thousands of satisfied VMware customers to replace their beloved vSphere with another platform, the only sensible approach is to promote a dual-vendor strategy.  No surprises there.


If customers were actually asking for this, then you’d expect some of those alleged customers to be readily available as references.  So far there appears to be just one, a Swedish Internet video company named Voddler.  I’ve never heard of them either — but a reference customer is a reference customer, and name recognition isn’t everything!  I tried to find another reference, but after almost half a year since the RHEV 2.1 GA release there aren’t any.

Same or Better than vSphere?

Red Hat claims that RHEV is “…60-80 percent lower cost with the same or better features compared to other solutions.”

Same or better features than vSphere?  According to whom?

I’ve taken a close look at RHEV and will publish some of my findings soon — subscribe to the RSS feed if you want to follow along.

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  1. Fernando’s avatar

    hahahah … this “Customer wants more than 1 hypervisor” is ridiculous, and dangerous.
    That means, customer will need to learn, train people, and support more than 1 virtualization platform, losing lots of benefits, standardization, and increasing complexity.

    It would be just like saying, have half of your messaging systems in Lotus Domino, and half on MS Exchange, so you will not be dependent into 1 vendor !!!

    This just shows how strong VMware is on the marketplace: Competitors are not confident to sey “Hey, replace this VMware stuff with ours!”.

    Look at Citrix for ex. They obviously gave up fighting VMware on pure server consolidation, and shifted all their efforts on VDI. Even with the ‘good enough’ XenServer out there for free for more than 1 year, market penetration is minimal to none.

    1. Eric Gray’s avatar

      Well said, Fernando. Standardizing on a single messaging system is a great analogy.


    2. Franco’s avatar

      Well, we also should only use MS Windows don’t you think? Why use different O.S.

      1. Jaime’s avatar

        I can’t agree more with @Franco. According to Eric there is no need for multiple OS, smartphones, DB, etc. IMHO there MUST to be many virt vendors as capitalism dictates, with compatibility and standards.

        VMware is good, but they need to keep evolving. Without competition, they will be another Microsoft and sooner than later will start to abuse their customers (just check the EULA, VSPP or policies: VMware Forcing Third Parties to NOT Sell Products for Free ESXi).

        1. Eric Gray’s avatar

          Competition, choice, and free markets are great.

          Making false claims about your product, not so much.

        2. Kevin’s avatar

          @Fernando I am not sure that “Customer wants more than 1 hypervisor” is all that ridiculous. Why should it be dangerous ?

          A lot of customers – my organisation included – are thinking of a cheaper alternate to VMware. This I feel is good in the long run as it will spark of some competition in the Vistualisation space.

          @Eric are you doing a full fledged eval of RHEV ? We have just started along this path .


          1. Eric Gray’s avatar

            Yes, I revved up RHEV, but I think the head gasket blew. Time permitting, I plan to write up my findings.

            RHEV is being positioned as an alternative to VMware — same features less cost. Totally false.

            It would be great to have your feedback as we go along — good or bad.

          2. Fernando’s avatar


            Dangerous maybe is not the best word. I think it is bad, for the supportability, interoperability, support efforts required, due to lack of standardization. More than that, this is just the speech of some vendors, realizing they would not be able to convince customers to switch from VMware.

            Competition is there already, forcing companies to create better products, you don’t need to have many products running at home for that.

            1. Kevin’s avatar


              hmmmmm… you have a point on the consolidation front with respect to supportability and support efforts required.

              I think that if OVF becomes a reality, I would be really really interested in splitting my virtualisation usage between two vendors.

              Competition is there – yes, but I do not feel it is competition of equals today. VMWare has too much of an advantage 🙂

              1. Fernando’s avatar

                OVF is fine, but having the same hypervisor allows you to move workloads across clusters/hosts anytime, without any conversions or changes within the VM.

                Moving a VM from Hypervisor A, to B, will require updating drivers, install tools,converting the virtual disk format etc etc, not too much practical.

                That falls into the supportability/interoperability issues I mention.

              2. Dick Davies’s avatar

                They may not be feature complete (in fact I’d be amazed if they were anywhere near at this stage), but it doesn’t hurt to have a tiered offering. As a sysadmin I have a need for dozens of small dev. VMs, which don’t need all the enterprise features of vSphere all the time. We also have a lot of Linux expertise, which we increasingly find doesn’t translate to the VMware stack.

                As far as customers go, I hear IBM run their Cloudburst stack on RHEV. Just a FYI.

                Looking forward to some tech comparisons.

                1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater’s avatar

                  Having Linux expertise doesn’t help a whole lot with RHEV, since the manager is on Windows and uses MSSQL or ODBC to manage its configuration DB, the naming and layout of ondisk VM assets is impenetrable and inscrutable, the product itself is full of tons of bugs, and support is weak unless you call during the Israeli business day.

                  Maybe in a year VMware will have some actual competition, which is healthy and should help keep pricing pressure in place. But at this timestamp, it really is no contest.

                  I’d recommend a Ganeti cluster over RHEV at this point, if your org isn’t too large and ossified to trust opensource for that purpose.

                  1. Eric Gray’s avatar

                    Dr. Noisewater,

                    Thanks for your recent contributions to the RHEV discussion here on VCritical. I appreciate the fact that you have actually used the Red Hat product — unlike many of the commentators.


                  2. Trackback from FatMin on April 28, 2010 at 6:45 pm

                  3. Dan’s avatar

                    BTW vmware is redhat release so all under one hat

                  4. Rob’s avatar

                    Cool Story Bro

                    FUD, Scaremongering and Trolling worthy of Microsoft.

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