Virtualisation turns to open source for cost advantage

Virtualisation turns to open source for cost advantage and extensibility

Thursday, March 29, 2012 | Dan Blacharski

Virtualisation has become a de facto standard in larger data centres, particularly as they seek benefits such as greater processing agility and resource management. The cost factor, of course, weighs heavily in the decision—but whilst the long-term costs are favourable, in the short-term, it can be difficult due to a potentially high cost of adoption and the presence of existing --- and potentially not fully amortised --- data centre hardware.

Overcoming some of those initial cost disadvantages is the trend towards open source virtualisation. Implementers of these solutions are also finding that the cost benefits are only the beginning. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualisation 3.0 (RHEV), a major new release, not only delivers a significant advantage in deployment costs, it also brings a new level of maturity to open source virtualisation, and superb extensibility in terms of modifying code to meet unforeseen hardware and software requirements. The latter cannot be found with a closed source system—or at best, may require costly and time-consuming customisation on the part of the proprietary vendor.

There are, of course, a number of reputable and mature proprietary vendors which have entered the virtualisation market. Nonetheless, as with any major deployment, it behoves the decision maker to consider reputation and potential staying power before making any major purchase. An IDG Executive Research poll cited 41 percent of CIOs and IT managers being concerned about single vendor lock-in, with 43 percent being concerned about the rising costs of proprietary closed source systems. These uncertainties must be addressed. The stakes are high. Virtualisation is no longer just a test case—enterprises are using it for mission-critical applications, as well as relying on it as part of their disaster recovery and business continuity strategies.

Considering the high stakes, it pays to have as few uncertainties as possible. It is generally accepted that Linux-based, open source virtualisation offers at least the same functionality as any closed-source system—while costing less than half as much for a deployment. In addition to the lower cost and equivalent functionality, benchmark testing shows RHEV to have superior performance to single-vendor virtualisation solutions, with RHEV consistently ranking amongst the top five SPECvirt-sc2010 benchmarks. Red Hat also leads in scalability metrics for VM density and hosts per cluster.

Red Hat's commitment to virtualisation is evident with this latest release, and Red Hat indicates that it is being deployed consistently in mission-critical environments. According to Red Hat, 50 percent of their largest customers are deploying or piloting RHEV. Several are deploying dual-source virtualisation strategies with RHEV as an alternative side-by-side with VMWare.

Virtualisation in the enterprise is an ongoing and evolving process, and the best approach to achieving greater data centre power while maintaining scalability in the face of rapid growth. Open source will continue to play a major role, and be a major driver in its continued deployment.
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