KVM is well known as a Hypervisor for Linux, and its
integration with the Linux kernel and inclusion in the Linux build tree makes
KVM a natural choice for Linux.
But why would anyone use KVM as a Hypervisor for Windows ? Isn't that counter-intuitive, and wouldn't Hyper-V or VMware be a more natural choice ?
Think again. IBM uses KVM as the Hypervisor for its "IBM SmartCloud Enterprise" public cloud - for both Linux and Windows instances. And you might want to do the same. To understand why, we need to dig deeper on what a hypervisor needs to do - and how hypervisors relate to operating system kernels.
Fundamentally, a hypervisor needs to create and run virtual machines, allocate and manage memory, protect different virtual machines from trampling over each other, share the processor(s) between different virtual machines, and interface to the hardware devices. Yes, of course there's a lot more complexity in doing this, and especially in doing so efficiently, but the hypervisor is in effect a mini operating system - without the complexity of the graphical user interface, command line utilities and so on.
What KVM does is it plugs into an existing operating system - Linux - and turns it into a standalone hypervisor. Yes, a hypervisor which runs on the bare metal and uses the hardware virtualization support included in recent x86 processors.
KVM then uses the existing capabilities of Linux to allocate memory, provide security, and schedule the processor(s) to give the right amount of time to each virtual machine. It doesn't need to reinvent the wheel - Linux already provides these functions, and does so very well.
And then you can take this combination of KVM and Linux, remove the operating system code you don't need, and you end up with an optimized, efficient, standalone hypervisor. Red Hat have done just this to produce RHEV-H, or Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization - Hypervisor.
Now you've got your standalone hypervisor - why would you use it for virtualizing Windows ? Here's three reasons for starters
* KVM offers a lightweight, high performance, low cost hypervisor
* KVM can support both Linux and Windows guests, so providing a common hypervisor for mixed environments
* KVM can use the advanced security included in Linux through SELinux to provide mandatory access control protection between virtual machines
So next time you think about KVM, don't think about it as just a hypervisor for Linux. Think of KVM as a standalone hypervisor for both Linux and Windows.
Program Director - Cross-IBM Linux and Open Virtualization Strategy
Blog Authors: IBM Software Defined 2700052JD4 Virtualization+IBM 2700039S5C Nitin_Gaur 12000056JB Jean Staten Healy 2700025BBU John_Foley 0600026N82 SamVanAlstyne 110000DM6B alicia_wood 270003DW0M Virtualization combined with Integrated Service Management helps you use your resources effectively, manage your infrastructures efficiently and gain the flexibility to meet ever changing business demands. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to virtualization across the entire infrastructure. Articles written by IBM's virtualization experts serve as conversation starters. Topics can range from latest technologies for server consolidation and tools for simplified systems management and monitoring to automating IT systems to respond to changing business conditions and cloud-based solutions for the "virtual" enterprise.
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KVM is well known as a Hypervisor for Linux, and its
integration with the Linux kernel and inclusion in the Linux build tree makes
KVM a natural choice for Linux.
Virtualization+IBM 2700039S5C 2,229 Visits
(Originally posted on IBM Smarter Computing tumblr blog)
As we enter an era of Smarter Computing, IT organizations are facing exploding demand. Data is more than doubling every two years and new services with greater quality are requested. All this, on budgets that on average grow less than one percent per year.
As IT organizations learn how to do more with less, virtualizing servers, storage and networks can help them achieve a simpler, more scalable and cost-efficient IT infrastructure. Proper management of the virtualized infrastructure also improves the speed of deployment of new services. The road to improved business agility has four distinct stages that range from securing IT efficiency in the consolidation stage, to gaining business effectiveness in the optimize stage.
Companies frequently start by virtualizing servers. This can deliver immediate benefits from lower capital expense and reduced energy costs: For example, Edith Cowan University in Australia consolidated a large, distributed, older infrastructure of systems and storage into an end to end, cost effective solution using virtualization on IBM System x. They reduced their physical server count from 600 to 100, achieved significant savings in power and cooling, and freed up administrator time for higher value projects.
Further benefits are available by using IBM Systems Director to manage physical and virtual resources across the entire IBM Systems portfolio (System x, Power, System z, storage, networking) and across multiple virtualization environments (KVM, VMware, etc.). Companies who have implemented Systems Director achieve important savings such as reducing server management costs by up to 34 percent. And using additional tools from IBM Tivoli, IT administrators can deploy new workloads and services more rapidly across IBM and non-IBM environments.
The virtualization journey offers a solid foundation for cloud computing. Clients like China Telecom Jiangxi (.pdf) rely on IBM’s virtualization solutions and expertise to achieve the flexibility and economic benefits of Smarter Computing. Using IBM Power servers, IBM PowerVM and IBM Systems Director VMControl, China Telecom Jiangxi created cloud landscapes and managed pools of virtual systems. They used the IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) to virtualize and manage storage. With this IBM solution, they reduced time to market for new offerings from months to days, improved utilization, cut hardware costs by over 50 percent, and reduced power requirements and CO2 emissions.
IBM also provides clients choice, by supporting open source virtualization technologies such as KVM that are cost effective, and offer enterprise-class performance and scalability. In May, IBM helped found the Open Virtualization Alliance, an industry consortium focused on driving market adoption of KVM and fostering an ecosystem of KVM based solutions. Since then, more than 170 members have joined, many of them virtualization, datacenter and Cloud solution providers. This fast pace of enrollment illustrates the excitement we see in the industry around KVM, and the customer demand for an open alternative in virtualization.
IBM’s virtualization solutions are a critical factor of Smarter Computing and the foundation for cloud computing, helping to improve business agility and staff productivity. IBM consistently demonstrates the economic benefits of virtualization on our range of server and storage platforms, and with that addresses the biggest challenges that CIO’s and IT architects face today.
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The IBM Research Compute Cloud (RC2) is a private cloud for internal IBM use that currently hosts over 2000 running VM's. Over a year ago, we changed RC2 to primarily utilize KVM for its virtualization. We had to convert most of our existing RHEL base images and user-images that were used in Xen VM's into a KVM-compatible format. We were able to automate that conversion reliably off-line using "chroot" and loop-mount based techniques to install non-Xen kernels and update the grub configuration inside the images. Our switch to KVM enabled us to support a much wider range of Linux distributions because the native IO and virtual IO emulation built into KVM just worked with Linux distributions without complications. The upcoming version 3 of RC2 is still using KVM, but is using a beta version of the IBM Tivoli Virtual Deployment Manager as the back end deployment engine instead of Tivoli Provisioning Manager workflows. Both of these deployment engines still leverage libvirt as a way to manage the definition and life-cycle of the KVM-based VM's.
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This summer IBM shared plans to extend support for Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) technology to the Power Systems portfolio of server products. On the surface, the announcement sounds simple enough. But like many of IBM’s initiatives, there is a substantial behind-the-scenes effort going on in an open source community to enable this innovation. In this case, much of the work is being done in the QEMU community.
What is the significance of QEMU?
QEMU stands for Quick EMUlator. It is maintained by an open source community. As the name implies, it started out as an emulator. It includes a virtual machine environment for several architectures – x86, Power, System 390, among others. However, KVM doesn’t use the processor emulator part for KVM – it just uses the virtual machine environment.
Although QEMU does not get as much attention as KVM, the technology is critical to the open source virtualization that KVM enables. The QEMU project is strategic to KVM. You can’t have a hypervisor without a virtual machine environment within which to run the operating system.
A hypervisor is comprised of the virtual machine monitor, which enforces isolation among running workloads, and the virtual machine environment, which provides the virtual hardware. For the KVM hypervisor the KVM kernel module provides the virtual machine monitor, while QEMU provides the virtual machine environment These are two open source projects that are combined to create the full hypervisor.
Some of the reasons the QEMU project is important to IBM are the same as for KVM. It is an open source project with a strong community. It moves quickly to implement new features, enabling us to bring innovation to IBM customers. In fact, our recent work on KVM for Power last year put us into a tie with Red Hat for contributions to the QEMU community.
What does QEMU enable?
Most of the new features that people are seeking in the KVM hypervisor are actually provided by QEMU components. Think about this:
In fact, most of the KVM tuning and ease-of-use features that are scheduled for release over the next year have also been developed within QEMU. In addition, most of the features that are being developed to make KVM more scalable and faster have also involved both a QEMU component and a KVM component.
IBM support for QEMU
When you implement a new feature in KVM, frequently it is necessary to implement a counterpart in QEMU to take advantage of that new KVM capability. As a result, there tends to be a large overlap in the developers that are working in KVM and QEMU.
IBM is committed to supporting QEMU development, and is investing many developer hours into the project. Over the years, IBM has participated in many open source projects, including Open Stack, , Apache and Eclipse in addition to Linux. We are approaching the QEMU project with the same intensity.
Mike Day - IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Virtualization Architect, Open Systems
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A behind-the-scenes peek at the most-attended sporting event in the world
When the U.S. Open kicks off on August 26 it will draw millions of tennis enthusiasts from all over the world for two intense weeks of non-stop world-class tennis action. Fans will watch events unfold not only at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, but also through an integrated online, mobile and social experience delivering real-time play-by-play action, live video streaming and live match scores and statistics, ensuring that every fan experiences the thrill and excitement on center court. I am proud to say that for more than 20 years, the US Open is relying on IBM as the end-to-end IT provider to enable and deliver this interactive experience though a myriad of fan-facing technologies.
Understanding that it is not possible for all tennis fans to make it to New York for the matches, it is a priority for the USTA (United States Tennis Association), the governing board for tennis in the United States, to provide content and information to them any way they want at any time of day or night. To support the USTA’s goal, IBM delivers the US Open experience to fans through the digital platform, and maintains uninterrupted availability of service throughout the event.
The capabilities provided to US Open tennis fans continue to expand. To name a few, there is the popular SlamTracker application that provides real-time scoring to fans for all matches. IBM’s “Keys to the Match” analysis is built into the SlamTracker application. The Keys’ are generated by using IBM predictive analytics software to analyze over 41 million data points from the past eight years of Grand Slam data for all men’s and women’s matches. This feature helps fans understand the important things a player must do to increase the likelihood of winning a match. And, mobile support has been expanded to include iPads as well as iPhone and Android devices. Fans that are physically at an event or watching the US Open on television at home often want access to digital information, to join the conversation on social media and to achieve a greater sense of control. The US Open “second screen” experience enables more fan interaction.
Social Media Insights Enhance Fan Experience and System Availability
IBM’s analysis at the Open has expanded to encompass social media. This helps to determine the most popular players, and aids IBM in ascertaining - as play is in progress - the matches that are likely to have the greatest fan traffic.
Behind the scenes, we are using IBM analytics to predict, allocate and monitor capacity in the Cloud. By analyzing tournament, player and social data, the system continuously predicts traffic expected to the Web site and automatically allocates or deallocates the appropriate resources. Applying predictive analytics in the cloud enhances the online user experience. Since we can optimize projections in order to add or reduce capacity, everyone can have an optimal experience. It also helps save dollars since allocating capacity only when its needed means servers aren’t sitting idle when they are not needed. All of our systems are able to generate highly accurate forecasts of how much traffic to expect, but we also look at our log history and social media discussions to figure out if there is spike in interest around a certain match that may translate into a rapid need for additional capacity.
A great example of the insight social media can provide is the Australian Open in 2012 when a match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal went on for nearly six hours. As it continued, it became clear that this was one of the longest finals matches in Grand Slam history. Once that happened, people started tweeting about it, and social media discussions sprang up. This drove additional traffic to the website because people wanted to witness it themselves.
Elastic Capacity Enabled by IBM and Open Source Technologies
The elastic capacity of the IT infrastructure supporting the US Open is made possible by the IBM SmartCloud technologies. This enables fast creation and dynamic allocation of resources transparently to users, while also supporting real time access. The US Open cloud environment includes virtualized IBM servers, software and storage across the globe, and supports the continuous availability and scalability required. The capabilities provided by IBM Monitoring optimize workloads and provide visibility necessary to allocate resources and more intelligently plan future growth.
Like most big shops, we are not homogeneous. We rely on our own IBM technologies and open source. Real-time and historical data analytics is enabled by IBM Smarter Analytics which is a combination of products including IBM InfoSphere BigInsights built on top of Apache Hadoop and IBM InfoSphere Streams. We also use a variety of servers, including both IBM Power Systems and IBM System x, for our cloud. And, we use a mix of operating systems. We rely on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and AIX. We have different capabilities that we must support and which require different operating systems. Cloud enables us to do that very easily. We also use the KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) hypervisor to manage our virtual machines on System x – and IBM has just announced that KVM on Power will soon become available.
The reality is that each platform has its own attributes and that is why we include them in the mix. For example, Power‘s Logical Partitioning (LPAR) divides a server’s resources into virtual “logical” partitions, and we continually take advantage of the LPAR mobility aspect of Power Systems. Power allows us to migrate live workloads from one physical frame to another without any impact. If we have a failure on one of our machines, we can do what we call “frame evacuation,” and move all the running servers including the databases to another machine, then make a repair, and move them back. You can do this on the fly in the middle of the day, in the middle of a peak match, without any impact to the business and, for us, that is critical.
The good news is that when the US Open happens in Flushing Meadows starting this week, tennis fans will have the highest quality experience possible, whether they are at the Tennis Center in person, or monitoring the matches online. Even better news is that all of these technologies can be applied to a wide range of use cases across many industries and are available today.
You can learn more at: http://www.ibm.com/usopen
Software Engineer and Master Inventor, IBM