There is no doubt that VMware (ESX) and Microsoft (Hyper-V) have the 2 most important virtualisation environments – so vital that they have created major ecosystems with thousands of aligned ISV and services partners. Aside from the Unix and mainframe approaches, Citrix (Xen) and RedHat (KVM) vie for third spot. In May 2011 a number of vendors with an interest in building an ecosystem around KVM formed the Open Virtualization Alliance (OVA). In particular:

  • IBM – has lots of its own virtualisation technology and an open standards approach; a big customer of VMware, but eager to support alternatives
  • Red Hat – an Open Source plus services vendor with a Linux bent; looking for enterprise revenues and to be a hub ecosystem like VMware or Microsoft
  • Intel – supports hypervising at the instruction level and keen to suggest cost savings
  • HP – a large VMware partner and customer, but with major Cloud builder contracts running Linux; a cheaper alternative
  • BMC – a business service management approach; endorsing KVM allows it a deeper virtualisation approach
  • Eucalyptus – an Open Source supplier of IaaS Clouds, with 25k Cloud installations
  • SUSE Linux – Red Hat’s major Linux ‘distribution’ competitor; part of Novell, which is now part of Attachmate

Currently industry discussions about storage hypervising concern VMware and Hyper-V, mainly because they are by far the most mature environments. Don’t forget that VMware has been in the market since 2003 and established itself slowly.
KVM has an Open Source flavour, which has the promise of cheaper deployment than ESX, although for VMware virtualisation is now more about systems management than the server hypervisor itself. While RedHat addresses virtualisation management itself through its RedHat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) offering (now up to version 3), it is also sponsoring the Ovirt project for those who want to build an Open Source suite. Ovirt supports KVM, Xen and Oracle/Sun’s VirtualBox hypervisors as well. While the Open Source community in which Xen and KVM live is an alternative to Microsoft and VMware ecosystems, the OVA should bridge the gap, making KVM more commercial in the process.
Despite the endorsement of these large and important virtualisation players, we think it will take a number of years for KVM to establish itself: however it has a great chance of becoming the third major virtualisation ecosystem within the next 3 years.

Data Source: ITCandor, 2012

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