Just a few years ago, many enterprise customers predicted they would never use cloud computing because it was too risky. Fast forward, and today the picture is a stark contrast. Compelling economic advantages have trumped all other concerns. Worldwide revenue from public IT cloud services, which exceeded $21.5 billion in 2010, will skyrocket to $72.9 billion in 2015, representing a compound annual growth rate of 27.6% - four times the projected growth for the worldwide IT market as a whole, according to IDC cloud research.
Once that initial leap to the cloud has been made, what else do organizations look for? It is clear that they want a choice of hypervisor technologies for their cloud deployments – including open source options such as KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine). According to a recent IDC white paper, “KVM: Open Virtualization Becomes Enterprise Grade,” cloud providers are embracing KVM. Many prominent public clouds are built on KVM, including the Google Compute Engine, HP Cloud, and IBM SmartCloud Enterprise. KVM has also become the unofficial reference standard for OpenStack, and is the choice of over 95% of OpenStack clouds, the IDC paper reports.
Beyond service providers, organizations that are deploying private clouds are also more amenable now to using a new hypervisor. This is the result of hypervisor technology being increasingly viewed as offering a range of enterprise-grade alternatives. The IDC white paper points out that, when asked in a survey which hypervisor they would prefer to use with their private cloud system, more than half of respondents said they would like to use a new hypervisor rather than the existing one. In addition, IDC says that when choosing the second hypervisor, companies are equally likely to choose an open source solution as a proprietary one, a result of maturation of open source technologies.
Why do organizations choose KVM for the cloud?
Cost – For anyone deploying cloud services, but particularly for cloud service providers which are competing for business, the ability to provide a high level of service while keeping infrastructure costs down is critical. For example, DutchCloud, a cloud service provider, has found that using IBM SmartCloud Provisioning enables it to bring in customer environments on VMware and reduce costs by moving them to KVM. Not only is KVM affordable, but for organizations that are already using Linux servers, KVM is already included in the main enterprise Linux distributions.
Flexible tooling – Since there is no single management infrastructure that must be used, KVM enables choice in terms of cloud and virtualization management. Companies can build their own toolset, or they can use a variety of products, including OpenStack, as well as IBM products such as SmartCloud Provisioning and SmartCloud Orchestrator which support KVM. Solutions that support multiple hypervisors enable KVM to easily be added to the mix to take advantage of its lower costs.
Scalability and fast provisioning – KVM can pack virtual machines very densely on a host, as demonstrated in a recent SPECvirt benchmark, resulting in great efficiency. KVM also uses thin provisioning, which means that the guest image file is compressed, so only a portion of the file is transferred over the network to the host machine. This enables organizations to start up the guest quickly, an important consideration for cloud deployment.
Security – KVM benefits from SELinux, which enables it to provide Mandatory Access Control and enforced isolation of virtual machines. Proving the high level of security provided by SELinux and KVM and setting the stage for broader enterprise adoption, Red Hat and SUSE enterprise Linux distributions with KVM have achieved Common Criteria Certificates at EAL 4+.
Today, because of these compelling advantages, many of our clients are choosing KVM, both for public clouds and private clouds.
Jean Staten Healy
Director, Worldwide Linux and Open Virtualization, IBM