Linux heavies plan lightweight virtualisation

by admin August 23, 2006 at 12:00 pm

Red Hat and Novell, the two top Linux sellers, have only just begun building Xen virtualisation software into their products. But they’re already planning to add a higher-level option.

Xen is a “hypervisor” that lets a single computer run several operating systems simultaneously, using an idea called “virtualisation.” This enables companies to use a single server more efficiently — something that could save them money. Now “containers,” a higher-level virtualisation approach that makes a single operating system look like many, is also getting traction.

Specifically, containers are likely to appear in the next major versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and Novell’s Suse Linux Enterprise Server (SLES). The technology could even be added before those updates, company executives said.

Two projects are under way to bring containers to Linux: Vserver and OpenVZ, the latter backed by a company called SWsoft. Overall, their prospects look bright.

“I think the big advantage of a containers approach, compared to a hypervisor, is a lot less overhead. You get much higher performance,” Gabriel Consulting Group analyst Dan Olds said.

Containers are increasingly popular. Sun Microsystems introduced its own container technology in 2005 with Solaris 10. And Microsoft is working on an adaptation of existing technology.

They are not suited to all tasks. Containers require all applications to use the same copy of the underlying operating system, for example. Xen and the established virtualisation leader, EMC’s VMware, don’t have that requirement. Nevertheless, containers are desirable.

Full article: ZDNet Australia