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Red Hat pledges 'integrated virtualization' platform

Red Hat executives announced that the next evolution of the enterprise Linux platform would have an integrated, easy-to-install virtualization platform.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Red Hat brought its commitment to virtualization technology into sharper focus this week with the release of a product roadmap that includes virtualization technology built into its enterprise version of Linux.

Red Hat Inc. executives also detailed plans to work with Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Intel Corp., Network Appliance Inc. and XenSource Inc. to simplify virtualization installations for customers using those platforms.

Beginning with Red Hat's release of Fedora Core 5.0 this month, users will have the opportunity to preview Red Hat virtualization technology, said Brian Stevens, Red Hat chief technology officer. Fedora Core is a Linux distribution developed by the community-supported Fedora Project, sponsored by Red Hat. Fedora was derived from the original Red Hat Linux distribution, but support for Fedora comes from the greater community, and not Red Hat.

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"With Fedora Core 5, we will take the rocket science of virtualization away from the end user and get virtualization out-of-the-box experience into their hands," Stevens said.

This summer, Red Hat will make available Virtualization Migration and Assessment Services along with an Enterprise Virtualization beta. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, which the company scheduled for general availability by the end of 2006, is expected to feature fully integrated virtualization.

Tim Yeaton, Red Hat's vice president of enterprise solutions, said the company will also provide integration and support for Xen virtualization technology. Xen lets a user run multiple copies of Linux on the same computer or server. Xen is also a hypervisor, which is software that manages a computer's hardware resources so the resources can be shared by multiple operating systems.

Xen scores software and hardware improvements

In recent months, Xen has undergone a series of software improvements that let the technology work with Microsoft Windows and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris operating systems. Hardware improvements allow the technology to run on systems using Intel Itanium processors, Sun SPARC and other x86-based hardware.

As part of the company's integrated virtualization program, AMD and Intel will work with Red Hat to make sure their virtualization-enhanced chipsets -- like AMD's Opteron and Itanium -- are tightly integrated with the initiative.

The news from Red Hat appeared to fulfill a pledge made to customers by Stevens in February. Stevens recently said server virtualization and cost reduction were Red Hat customers' top interests and that his team planned to deliver commoditized virtualization in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.0 (RHEL5), the company's upcoming new Linux distribution release.

Other specific details of the Red Hat integrated virtualization program include:

  • A development and quality assurance environment, which will allow developers to reduce the time and complexity of writing and testing code on diverse target systems
  • Support for hardware abstraction, which will let IT managers explore the latest hardware using existing software stacks without the expense of extensive qualification and migration processes

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