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In a webcast today, Paul Cormier, Red Hat's executive vice president of engineering, said that the acquisition will position Red Hat alongside Microsoft as the only two companies with a comprehensive solution from operating system to management, infrastructure and virtualization.
"I realize this is a bold statement," Cormier said. "But the lack of breath is the Achilles' heel of virtualization that only Red Hat and Microsoft are positioned to provide."
The Qumranet acquisition will enable independent software vendors (ISVs) to get to market faster with virtualized products because they will have to go through the build and certification process only once to know that a virtualized product will run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), he said.
"They can build once and deploy anywhere," Cormier said.
With KVM's tight integration with the latest hardware chipsets, RHEL will be able to offer optimized performance for Windows or Linux guests with or without paravirtualized drivers "out of the box," added CTO Brian Stevens.
Asked if this was a resurging hypervisor war, Stevens said the merger isn't about the hypervisor itself but about working together to improve the hypervisor as part of a broader platform. Now Red Hat and Qumranet can provide innovation to the hypervisor layer in its own isolated layer without affecting partners or management applications that run on top of the hypervisor, he said.
Red Hat playing catch-up
Chris Wolf, an analyst at Midvale, Utah-based Burton Group, said Red Hat has been "in catch-up mode" on virtualization and the Qumranet acquisition will help it close the gap. But Wolf questioned Red Hat's claim that the merger puts it alongside Microsoft as one of two soup-to-nuts virtualization players.
"Red Hat needs to worry about being in the top four before making such a claim," Wolf said, pointing out that Sun Microsystems has a very good end-to-end virtualization strategy.
Unless Red Hat virtualization can run equally well on the Windows platform, it's going to be no more than a niche player, Wolf said.
Gordon Haff, a principal IT adviser at Nashua, N.H.-based Illuminata Inc said the merger makes sense, both in terms of the close relationship between the two companies, but also because there is a trend in which larger companies buy up small, point-virtualization firms like Qumranet.
"Qumranet is really a research and development firm rather than a full-fledged company," Haff said.
Despite its size, the Qumranet acquisition could yield interesting results. Red Hat is focused on Linux and the server market, so it will be good to see how it will follow through on the acquisition with improving application delivery to the desktop, he said.
Even more interesting is the extent to which Red Hat will extend the technology to other platforms. "The big question is if this will stay Linux-centric virtualization, which would be a lot less interesting."