Virtualization is a step on the road to the cloud – whether it is a public or private cloud. In order to build a cloud you need to have virtualization underpinning it. Open virtualization can play a key role in maintaining flexibility for cloud deployments, and our clients telling us that you should have an open cloud so that you are able to move workloads from one cloud to another, and take your data and your applications and move them to a different public cloud vendor or between private or public cloud if you choose to do so.
As a result, we are seeing that cloud environments very often use open source hypervisors. For example, a modified early version of Xen has been used by Amazon, and IBM is using KVM –Kernel-based Virtual Machine – in its SmartCloud Enterprise, an agile cloud computing infrastructure as a service, and also in its biggest private cloud, the IBM Research Compute Cloud.
Taking an open virtualization approach enables you to have an open cloud, but there are also other factors. For example, if you look at the parameters in terms of cloud environments, one of the first requirements is to be able to deliver IT at low cost – an advantage closely associated with Linux and other open source technologies. In general, people choose to go with cloud rather than traditional IT because it will enable them to get their IT less expensively, whether it is a private cloud shared between people inside one organization or it is going outside, buying IT from a public cloud provider.
Cost – low cost – is important, and then, associated with that are the levels of scalability you can get and what you are able to achieve in terms of packing virtual machines on top of the same server. KVM, for example, offers high levels of scalability, building on top of the scalability provided by Linux. This is significant because again going back to cost, if you are able to get more virtual machines efficiently onto the same server, then you are able to lower the total costs of the cloud that you are then providing.
A third consideration for any IT deployment and – certainly those in the cloud – is security and that also connects back to KVM’s Linux connection. Since KVM builds on Linux, it is able to take advantage of the managed access controlled security that SELinux provides in a cloud, and this means you are able to have high levels – really military-grade protection – between virtual machines in the cloud from different organizations. And where you have multiple tenants of a cloud you are able to say with certainty that you can’t get from one partition to another partition – and that is a big benefit in terms of providing cloud environments.
No one can foresee all of the changes to the overall IT market – let alone, their own organization – that will take place in the years ahead, so keeping options open when it comes to critical IT workloads in the cloud is important to future-proofing your IT infrastructure. This is why IBM is investing in Open Virtualization – KVM.
Director WW Cross-IBM Linux and Open Virtualization