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Choices for Red Hat virtualization include RHEL, RHEV and OpenStack

While the KVM functionality in Red Hat Enterprise Linux can help admins manage VMs on a few servers, larger deployments may call for RHEV and OpenStack.

Many Linux-based virtualization environments run on top of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Since the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, all Red Hat virtualization is based on KVM. KVM is included as two kernel modules in the Linux kernel, which makes it easier to maintain the virtualization code, as all the code is included with the upstream Linux kernel.

Different options are available for Red Hat virtualization management. If you need to deploy virtual machines (VMs) on just a few servers, use the KVM functionality that is included with each version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). This is supported with each version of RHEL 7, and you won't need to purchase additional licenses to run VMs on top of RHEL 7. In this configuration, two management interfaces are available, neither of which manages an integrated virtualization environment; they only manage VMs that run on top of the Linux server.

Virsh is a rich environment that allows administrators to perform any management task from the command line, such as starting and stopping VMs, configuring virtual networks and creating snapshots of VMs.

Virtual Machine Manager is another option. It has a graphical interface that makes it easier to manage VMs. For example, an administrator can easily connect to VMs or other hypervisor hosts, manage VM hardware properties and perform other tasks. However, it doesn't manage virtualized data centers that use multiple hypervisor hosts.

Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization

The RHEV-H host is based on RHEL, but is stripped of any unnecessary features, which increases performance and reduces security risks.

For environments with more than a couple of servers, use Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV), which is designed to manage software-defined data centers. Since RHEV provides a centralized interface through which admins can manage VMs running on multiple hypervisor hosts -- a feature that Virtual Machine Manager lacks -- it is comparable to VMware vSphere.

In RHEV, RHEV-M host is the management platform that provides a browser interface and allows administrators to manage a large amount of RHEV-H hosts. These RHEV-H hosts are the fine-tuned hypervisor hosts on which the VMs run. The RHEV-H host is based on RHEL, but is stripped of any unnecessary features, which increases performance and reduces security risks. RHEV can integrate RHEL-based hypervisor hosts, as well, but that results in overhead caused by unnecessary packages.

Red Hat OpenStack

For organizations that want to use their Red Hat virtualization platform as part of infrastructure as a service (IaaS), consider the Red Hat OpenStack platform. However, even if the platform allows you to run VMs on top of an OpenStack cloud, organizations shouldn't always consider IaaS as an alternative to virtualization. The purpose of an IaaS cloud is to deliver VMs over an infrastructure that was developed with self-service and elasticity in mind, whereas virtualization focuses on making VMs available in a private data center.

It is possible, though, to use a Red Hat OpenStack-based private cloud to get the best of both worlds. This increases flexibility and adds self-service options to the Red Hat virtualization environment. These features are important for those who need to quickly and easily deploy and scale VMs.

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