Using KVM virtualization in the enterprise: RHEV or RHEL?

Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization both offer KVM virtualization, but there are important differences in their KVM management, features and implementation.

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RHEL goes small
Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is a generic Linux server product that relies on KVM virtualization. It consists of a Linux kernel and lots of packages, including the Apache Web server and the MySQL database, as well as some KVM management tools. With RHEL 6, you can install and manage a few virtual machines (VMs), but it doesn’t deliver the best performance or an optimal KVM management platform. Still, in very small environments, RHEL 6 gives you everything you need for open source virtualization.

Enterprise-ready KVM virtualization
If virtualization is a key component of your corporate IT infrastructure, you’ll need something that goes beyond merely managing a few VMs. For enterprise-level KVM virtualization, you need easy KVM management, high availability, optimal performance and other advanced features. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) includes RHEV Manager (RHEV-M) -- a central KVM management platform for physical as well as virtual resources.

RHEV-M helps you manage VMs and their disk images, installation ISOs, high-availability settings, VM templates and more -- all from a graphical Web interface. You can also manage two types of hypervisors with RHEV-M. RHEV comes with a standalone bare-metal hypervisor that’s based on RHEL and KVM virtualization, to be used as a managed physical node. Alternatively, if you want to manage VMs running on RHEL from RHEV, you can register RHEL servers to the RHEV-M console.

RHEV 3.0 or RHEL 6?
RHEL 6 is simply a Linux server that offers open source virtualization options, so you need RHEV to implement KVM virtualization in large corporate environments. RHEV 3.0, expected later this year, has a re-engineered core and is based on Java. In RHEV 3.0, you’ll find all the features of competing virtualization platforms such as VMware or Citrix XenServer. Plus, RHEV offers these functions for a fraction of the price.

This was first published in August 2011

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