Red Hat‘s Gunnar Hellekson, Director of Product Management, came by to discuss where different types of processing virtualization technology fit in today’s data centers. Although at first I thought I was going to hear a discussion of how Containers, a form of operating system virtualization and partitioning, would eventually come to supplant the use of Virtual machine software, I learned that Hellekson and I both believe that each serves a different purpose.
Here’s a quick summary of our conversation.
Where Virtual Machine Software is the wrong choice
Although the use of VM technology is often seen as a panacea, a tool to address all problems, it really is useful when multi-OS workloads need to share the same physical host and be isolated from one another. Although many look at every computing problem and see a candidate for working in a VM, that technology isn’t always the right choice.
Access virtualization is better when the need to to allow users to access applications using whatever network-enabled device is handy and using a local network of some kind.
Application virtualization is better when application performance application reliability/availability or making an application work in an environment that normally would create problems.
Operating system virtualization and partitioning; such as containers, LPARs or VPARs or other similar technology; is better when all of the applications are designed to be hosted on the same operating system.
Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization is Red Hat’s offering when the use of Virtual Machine technology is indicted.
Where Containers is the wrong choice
If we just look at industry journals, it would be easy to come to the conclusion that Containers has become all the rage and is taking over the market for virtualization technology. While the technology is exciting for its ability to allow independent workloads to be hosted on a single machine, under a single operating system. The fact that this approach reduces the overall processing power required and also reduces both memory and storage requirements as well is a great benefit.
It is clear that Containers, like VM technology, is not always the right choice. If workloads are all hosted on different operating systems; such as Windows and Linux; or different versions of operating systems; such as Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2012 and the newest Windows platform, Windows Server 2016; then using a VM technology, such as VMware’s vSphere, Microsoft’s Hyper-V, or one of the open source hypervisors, such as KVM or Xen, is a better choice.
Red Hat is supporting containers in a number of their products so it can address customer requirements for application or component delivery, rapid development or deployment.
Complementary not competitive technology
In the beginning of this exercise, I was lead to believe that Red Hat was going to take the position that containers and other forms of operating system virtualization and partitioning were somehow competitive with the use of virtual machine software. The implication was that one would eventually cannibalize the market for the other. Since the two types of processing virtualization technology address different problems, I know that they are complementary not competitive.
Thinking that I was going to face an adversarial situation, I sharpened up my arguments and prepared for a battle. What really happened was far more interesting. Hellekson and I agreed on nearly every point. I really enjoyed speaking with him and look forward to future conversations. We both agreed that each of these types of technology are designed to address different problems. They can be used together when necessary or independently when workload requirements lead to a choice of one over the other.
Red Hat clearly understands this and offering products and services designed to address all of those needs.