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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At the Linux Technology Center, our focus has shifted over the years. While initially, the LTC’s emphasis was largely centered on Linux, the scope has expanded over the years. When we started, we spent a lot of time working to make sure that all of IBM’s products worked with Linux so that Linux ran well on our different families of servers - x86, Power, and mainframes, helping the IBM Software Group take advantage of Linux for their hundreds of software products, and sometimes stepping in with services to make sure that they could deploy Linux in their engagements.
From that, we became involved in helping Linux move into new areas. We worked with customers that were interested in deploying Linux for scale-out file systems and utilizing real-time Linux, and helped make enterprise requirements like Linux high performance and scheduling a reality. Over the years, the LTC has worked on open source development well beyond the kernel in areas as diverse as RAS (reliability, availability, serviceability), device support, networking, systems management, security, Samba networking protocol, the toolchain, standards, test and quality. Now that Linux features are mature, we are turning our attention to the new frontiers of open source innovation – big data, cloud, and mobility.
Over the course of our involvement in open source, we have helped launch consortiums as a way to bring companies together and get projects moving quickly – probably more quickly than they would have if they had developed organically. For example, we were involved in the formation of Linaro, which was focused on Linux for ARM processors that are used in cell phones, cars, and embedded in other devices. And, most recently, we helped kick-start OpenDaylight, a project under The Linux Foundation focused on a common software-defined networking platform. The result of all this work with different open source paradigms is that inside IBM, as well as externally, we are recognized for our expertise both technically and organizationally.
Because of the LTC, IBM is known as being good at working with open source initiatives – we know how to leverage it, the proper way to partner, and, when there is new open source technology that is emerging, people often come to us for help in pulling the project together in a cohesive way. The LTC has become a locus for people to gain assistance in solving their own problems or “scratching their own itch.” Ultimately, that is good for IBM – and something we all can benefit from. That’s what “community” means.
Director, IBM Linux Technology Center
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Linux Evolves and So Does IBM’s Linux Technology Center
At the IBM Linux Technology Center (LTC), we sometimes forget – because we have been around so long – that for some, the LTC is “new” news. Thanks to the success of Linux and other open source projects, there are people continually joining the open source technology ecosystem. Often, they don’t know our history, so we want to explain how we act as a resource for not only IBM but also for our partners and customers.
In the late 1990s, IBM had begun using open source software in a number of areas - especially the Apache Web Server which IBM was using internally and considering using in its products. IBM’s research teams were doing more and more with open source software and Linux, and our high performance computing customers were beginning to become interested in open source software and Linux, as well.
In 1998, Dan Frye, Vice President, IBM Open Systems Development, took the lead in ascertaining what the company’s participation in open source software should be. Through that effort, the plan to make a substantial commitment to Linux for IBM products and for Linux itself came to fruition. In 2000, IBM decided to invest $1 billion in Linux, and to help improve the operating system by working within the community. The Linux Technology Center was born out of that investment, and I am happy to say, many other companies subsequently became involved and there was an explosion of development around Linux.
The LTC provides a Linux operating system development team for IBM, supporting all IBM server platforms, all IBM server software, and acting as the technical liaison to our Linux distribution partners. IBM is part of the Linux open source community, and works directly with Linux distributors.
The team of developers working with the LTC grew fairly quickly from just a dozen, to 50, to a hundred, to several hundred developers today. Initially, we were looking at basically understanding open source and trying to make meaningful contributions. We were working to make Linux a better operating system for the kinds of things that we knew our IBM customers would want. In those days, that was reliability, scalability, better testing, performance, I/O support – even documentation – and as we did that, we began to understand Linux better and started to use it more widely internally at IBM.
The announcement of IBM’s $1 billion investment and the early work we did enabled Linux to gain acceptance by many large enterprise customers that might have been slower to come to Linux had IBM not aggressively supported it. Today, the Linux focus for the LTC is evolving. For example, we initially worked on the printing subsystem because that was an inhibitor to open source adoption, but that is a done deal now. The things we have to spend time on have completely changed and our efforts tend to be much more strategic these days.
While we continue to channel our efforts to some of the same areas such as making sure Linux supports IBM Power Systems and IBM System z, we are also becoming involved in new open source efforts. It is part of a natural evolution. Linux has grown up.
More about what the LTC is working on now in my next blog.
Director, IBM Linux Technology Center
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Last week, IBM was the premier sponsor of the Red Hat Summit in Boston for the ninth year in a row. This conference is a highlight for me each year because it gives both companies the opportunity to showcase the joint solutions we deliver to our clients, hear what mutual customers have to say first-hand, and provide a peak at what will be coming in the year ahead. There is always a lot of energy at the Red Hat Summit spurred by thought-provoking presentations and the unveiling of major innovations. This year was no exception.
Kicking off IBM’s participation in the Red Hat Summit, Arvind Krishna, GM Development and Manufacturing, IBM STG, delivered a keynote in which he announced new IBM initiatives to further support and speed up the adoption of the Linux operating system across the enterprise. Arvind told attendees that IBM is opening two new Power Systems Linux Centers in Austin, Texas, and New York in addition to the Power Systems Linux Center launched in Beijing in May. Arvind also spoke about IBM’s plans to extend support for Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) technology to the Power Systems portfolio of server products – giving IBM Power customers an open choice. The new centers will make it easier for developers to build new applications for big data, cloud, mobile and social business computing using Linux – and in the future, KVM – with the latest IBM POWER 7+ processor technology. Signifying the importance of these announcements, the news was covered widely in the news media, including Forbes' DividendChannel, ZDNet, eWeek, Linux and Life, Computer Business Review, and The Register.
At the Summit, Red Hat, announced the global availability of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.2, which builds on the industry-leading performance of the KVM hypervisor to offer an enterprise-class data center virtualization and management solution, with fully supported Storage Live Migration and a new third-party plug-in framework. Red Hat also announced that IBM is joining the Red Hat OpenStack Cloud Infrastructure Partner Network, the availability of the new Red Hat OpenStack Certification, and the launch of the Red Hat Certified Solution Marketplace. The Red Hat Certified Solution Marketplace already includes more than 500 products that have been certified as OpenStack compute (Nova) compatible, from technology leaders – including IBM. IBM’s collaboration with Red Hat and the OpenStack ecosystem is in line with our commitment to give clients the flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and security that is necessary for cloud computing – both now and in the future.
It was clear at the Summit that cloud is on our customers’ roadmaps. Both IBM and Red Hat understand the importance of the cloud and the critical role that Linux and KVM play in the cloud. Whether it is private, public, or hybrid, we know customers have to virtualize to get there – and both IBM and Red Hat are committed to KVM as the virtualization hypervisor.
There were many other high points at this year’s conference as well. In our booth, IBM profiled technology from IBM PureSystems, IBM System x, IBM BladeCenter, IBM Power Systems, and IBM System z, and demonstrated the latest IBM solutions for cloud computing, open virtualization with KVM, and big data. I also had the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion in which representatives from IBM, Red Hat, and the University of Connecticut participated. The discussion focused on common Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, KVM, and OpenStack use cases and the business benefits that are being realized. I was pleased to see a packed room with the audience asking many more technical questions about KVM than in prior years.
As I left the conference this year, I was struck by the thought that something was very different. Whether customers are discussing the use of KVM in the cloud, or adding it as a second hypervisor for “hyperdiversity,” the debate about whether KVM is technically ready is now over. It has achieved impressive SPECvirt and TPC-C benchmarks, security certifications, and according to IDC, is showing impressive growth in unit shipments. We are no longer explaining what KVM is. Instead, this year, we were able to show a robust portfolio of clients that have realized success with KVM. The conversation around KVM has changed.
Jean Staten Healy - Director, Worldwide Linux and Open Virtualization, IBM
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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
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The open source hypervisor KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) is gaining ground in the enterprise. KVM adoption echoes the early days of Linux since organizations, by now familiar with server virtualization, are evaluating not only hypervisors from the current market leaders but also open source approaches. According to data from IDC, KVM is growing at 150% year over year in terms of unit shipments, with over 100,000 servers already using it worldwide for virtualization.(1)
Expanded use of KVM is also occurring as part of a broader trend in which organizations are opting to deploy more than one hypervisor in their data centers. Termed “hyperversity” by Gabriel Consulting Group, organizations are avoiding standardization on a single hypervisor, and are increasingly willing to select the right tool at the right price.
A strong area for KVM is among organizations that already have Linux servers deployed in their data centers, and who are looking to consolidate workloads or build a flexible infrastructure. The reasons for KVM’s early adoption among current Linux users are varied, but can be distilled down to three main considerations – cost, security, and simplicity.
Since 2007, when KVM was first distributed as a core part of the Linux kernel, it has been considered a mainstream feature of Linux by enterprise users. Today, KVM is shipped with the major enterprise Linux distributors, including Red Hat, SUSE, and Canonical. This enables Linux shops to reduce the cost of ownership of virtualization, since they do not have to purchase a separate hypervisor. KVM can also support high server utilization, resulting in greater asset utilization, which in turn also results in cost efficiency.
Security is a concern for all organizations and KVM has distinct strengths in this area. SELinux (Security Enhanced Linux) enables Mandatory Access Control which delivers advanced, need-to-know security. Explicit permission is required for access to specific data and functions, rather than permissions being role-based. In addition, EAL4+ certification means that KVM is ready for adoption by governments and other organizations where security certification is required. This isolation is critical, for example, if a malicious program is trying to break out of its own virtual machine to access the host or another virtual machine. With the combination of both SELinux and its EAL4+ certification, KVM provides strong enterprise-level security.
Proven KVM Success
In the six years since it became a core part of Linux, KVM has had time to earn users’ trust. When a technology is new it tends to be mistrusted, but greater acceptance is building now as more enterprise use cases for KVM are documented and shared.
Jean Staten Healy - Director, Wordwide Linux and Open Virtualization, IBM
(1) Source: IBM press release “IBM To Open Cloud Lab For Wall Street Clients”, April 8. 2013
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As virtualization has grown to become a reliable mainstream approach to reducing costs, maintaining or even expanding performance and delivering flexibility to support business needs, it has become strategic to IT organizations around the world. At the same time, Red Hat and IBM have become leaders in Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) development and promotion, and Red Hat has distinguished itself by delivering the KVM hypervisor and corresponding management tools in Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization.
According to a recent whitepaper by analyst firm IDC entitled “KVM : Open Virtualization Becomes Enterprise Grade”, sponsored by IBM and Red Hat, KVM has made impressive progress since its inclusion in the Linux kernel in 2007, and adoption has grown especially in key use cases such as Linux server consolidation and cloud computing. The IDC whitepaper states that virtual servers outshipped physical servers by a ratio of more than 2:1 in 2012. The firm’s numbers also report that 55% of all installed workloads as of the end of 2011 were virtualized and new workloads are being virtualized at a rate of 67%. IDC also finds that hypervisors competitive to VMware, such as KVM, are offering enterprise customers more and more choice.
Red Hat and IBM’s long collaboration, originally formed around Red Hat Enterprise Linux, has expanded to focus on virtualization as well. The two industry leaders began collaborating around open virtualization many years ago, and this has continued to evolve with the fast pace of innovation delivered through KVM. Both organizations play a leadership role in the Open Virtualization Alliance (OVA), which they helped to form in 2011 as founding members. The OVA promotes the growth of KVM’s ecosystem in the marketplace, and as membership in the OVA has grown and become more diverse, it has opened opportunities for KVM deployment in areas such as: server, storage, networking, management, OS, security, business applications and has established itself as one of the most popular foundations for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) clouds. IBM has also utilized KVM and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization as the underpinnings of its own public cloud offering, IBM SmartCloud Enterprise.
In mid 2012, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, in conjunction with the KVM hypervisor on IBM Systems, were each also separately awarded Common Criteria Certification at Evaluation Assurance Level 4+. These certifications paved the way for the KVM hypervisor and open virtualization to be used in homeland security projects, command-and-control operations and throughout government agencies.
Graphs in the IDC whitepaper also show that many users would like to combine multiple hypervisors, with as many users choosing to deploy an open source secondary hypervisor as those who would deploy a proprietary one. Over half of those surveyed said they would choose to build a cloud on a new hypervisor, as opposed to their existing system.
These proof points signal a bright future for KVM, as open virtualization takes its place in the enterprise.
Learn more about IDC’s perspective on the virtualization industry in the IDC whitepaper, sponsored by IBM and Red Hat, “KVM : Open Virtualization Becomes Enterprise Grade” February 2013.
Radhesh Balakrishnan, global leader, Virtualization, Red Hat
Jean Staten Healy, Director, Worldwide Linux and Open Virtualization, IBM
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Several key areas of strong adoption have emerged for the open source hypervisor.
Over the past year, we have seen a marked shift in the conversation around KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine). Questions early on focused on whether the open source hypervisor could be trusted as an enterprise-grade virtualization solution. We think that question has been answered with a resounding “Yes, KVM is ready for business!” Most recently, we demonstrated with a first-ever virtualized x86 TPC-C benchmark result that even the most demanding and complex workloads can be virtualized – with KVM. Nothing though speaks better to adoption in the enterprise than clients actually using it. Today, many IBM clients have deployed KVM with IBM hardware and/or software and you can read their success stories here.
Now, the questions around KVM have changed. Today, clients want to understand where KVM is being used, who is using it, and why it is being used. In answering their questions, we have identified several areas in which KVM is frequently adopted. Here, a brief look at a few use case scenarios leading the way in KVM adoption.
Companies with Linux servers in their data centers – KVM is the natural choice for companies that already have Linux servers since:
Cloud service providers and organizations building their own private clouds – At its core, a move to the cloud is about cutting costs and enabling flexibility. Both cloud service providers and organizations building private clouds need:
Multi-hypervisor environments – After organizations have become familiar with server virtualization, they are often open to the idea of a second hypervisor, particularly if it can provide them with expanded benefits and lower costs. According to the Gabriel Consulting report, “‘Hyperversity’ Rages On,” based on Gabriel’s annual and independent x86 Data Center Survey, two-thirds of the respondents are using two or more hypervisors. Many organizations have a second-source policy for their major IT components, including hypervisors.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) – KVM’s strengths shine in the virtual desktop arena because of the weight placed on sharing resources, high reliability, security, and performance. Vissensa, a managed service provider, successfully provisions flexible desktops using a virtual desktop solution with a KVM implementation of Virtual Bridges VERDE.
Business-Critical Applications –Organizations that want to create a responsive business infrastructure for the future are increasingly seeing benefits in expanding virtualization to their mission-critical systems. For example, using Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, Casio Computer Company has not only decreased its costs but also addressed business management challenges, and laid the groundwork for a future cloud environment.
KVM’s Place in the Enterprise
While there is still room for further growth in terms of KVM’s market penetration, these five use cases represent a base in the enterprise on which KVM is building a strong presence. We will explore each of these use cases in more detail in future blogs.
Jean Staten Healy - Director, Worldwide Linux and Open Virtualization, IBM
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A recently posted entry on this blog titled "What If You Could Virtualize Your Entire Enterprise? And Why Your Virtualization Journey Is Only Beginning" posed the following question:
"What if...you could virtualize your mission-critical applications while ensuring or improving service levels?"
While virtualization has made significant penetration into the data center, there are still workloads which have yet to fully exploit it's benefits. The previous blog entry identifies some of these workloads as database, OLTP, analytics, and ERP. In many cases these workloads have yet to be migrated to virtualized environments due to logistical issues or performance concerns. In order to demonstrate that virtualized environments can host these types of enterprise workloads without incurring significant performance sacrifices, sound, realistic proof points need to be established that highlight these type of capabilities.
In an effort to define such a proof point, the IBM Linux Technology Center (LTC) recently completed the first ever formal publication of the TPC-C benchmark, which showcases an OLTP workload, in an x86 virtualized environment. In this proof point, a two socket Intel Xeon system (IBM x3650M4) was able to achieve 1,320,082 transactions per minute (tpm-C) while performing in excess of 300,000 I/O operations per second. This level of performance exceeds 94.8%* of the posted two socket TPC-C publication at this time and is only 12.2% lower than a separate IBM publication published just last year that obtained a score of 1,503,544 tpm-C on a similarly configured non-virtualized two socket Intel Xeon system. The virtualized TPC-C publication also achieved a price/performance ratio of $0.51/tpm-C which is lower than the comparable non-virtualized system which had a ratio of $0.53/tpm-C and the lowest price/performance ratio ever achieved by IBM.
To achieve this exceptional level of performance and price/performance, this publication exploited the integrated KVM virtualization technology found in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.4 and the virtualization friendly x3650 M4. IBM’sSystem x3650 M4 is designed to support virtualization of customer's most important business workloads as it is designed to deliver outstanding uptime, performance, scalability, and I/O flexibility and rock-solid reliability.
With the enterprise advancements now available in KVM as demonstrated by this proof point, customers can and should begin the transition of their mission critical applications to virtual environments. As the virtualization platform used to produce the first ever virtualized x86 TPC-C publish, the KVM technology in Red Hat is ideally suited for this role.
* 58 two socket TPC-C publications as of 2/25/2013
Director, IBM Linux Technology Center
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How does your organization define the value of virtualization solutions? Are you calculating your return on Investment (ROI) strictly based upon cost savings? If so, you might be missing out on the true benefits of virtualization.
Let’s rewind for a second. Historically, server virtualization was the first step organizations took in an attempt to save costs. Identifying and eliminating under performing servers in the IT infrastructure helped recapture floor space and reduced costs associated with software licensing, cooling and power. Server consolidation even made it easier for IT administrators to increase their productivity. A reduction in servers and associated management enables a greater focus on projects strategic to the enterprise.
Server virtualization opens the door to efficiency but it is only the beginning of the virtualization journey. If you are satisfied with achieving these very basic results, you might be missing the whole point of virtualization (and the benefit too). Consider the potential benefits of virtualizing the entire enterprise?
Let’s fast forward to today. Cost savings, once the primary driver of technology shift and the primary method to calculate ROI for virtualization is being replaced. Today’s industry leading companies are defining value differently. The trend of moving complex, mission critical workloads to the cloud as a way to accelerate delivery of new products and services to market, and the need to ensure each workload performs at its peak and is now what defines value.
At IBM Pulse 2013, Jacqueline Woods, Vice President Marketing, along with a panel of Industry Analysts and Clients will discuss a more effective way to calculate ROI or the value of comprehensive IT data center virtualization (i.e. - server, storage, network and mission-applications) meets these needs through a combination of heterogeneous architectures, dynamic optimization, enterprise virtualization and unified control. A mix that offers the flexibility to meet the changing nature of business critical workloads and something only IBM can offer.
Want to learn more and join the discussion. Come visit us at IBM Pulse 2013 and register for IBM Pulse session #CSM-2390: What Happens When You Add IBM Systems and Expertise to the Software Defined Data Center?