Red Hat to Include Xen in Next Enterprise Suite

Linux leader Red Hat made clear this week it supports XenSource and its open source Xen virtualization technology, announcing plans to integrate the offering into the next major release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Despite speculation that Red Hat might be building its own virtualization technology, the company will, in fact, be working to include Xen in the next RHEL release at the end of the year, it said. The news comes despite Red Hat’s earlier contention that Xen is not yet ready for enterprise production use.

Committing Resources

“Red Hat is investing heavily in the improvement of the Xen project, along with others in the open source community,” the firm said in a statement this week. “We are encouraged by the rapid progress being made, and expect the technology to be sufficiently improved, hardened and tested so that it will soon be included in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtualization platform.”

Red Hat responded to recently published reports indicating it may not be on track to include Xen in its next RHEL release, as competitor Novell did last month with its release of Suse Linux Enterprise 10, by restating its commitment to open source virtualization and vowing to include Xen in RHEL.

“We believe the technology from the Xen project is one key component of a virtualization platform which will deliver significant benefits to customers, improving the economics, flexibility, and responsiveness of their IT investments, which we will deliver in the next major release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.”

Red Hat included in its statement an admission that it does not believe Xen is currently ready for enterprise use, but that it does plan to ship it when it is “ready for mission-critical enterprise customer deployment.”

The current target for the release is the end of the year, Red Hat said.

Rushing Xen

Even Novell engineers recognize the technology’s relative immaturity, according to Illuminata Senior Analyst Gordon Haff.

“It’s not by anybody’s measure a production-ready application yet,” Haff told LinuxInsider. “If you ask engineers at Novell, Red Hat, or Sun, nobody thinks it is ready for production.”

Haff said he could understand Novell’s desire to include the virtualization technology in its newest offering, SLE 10, but he suggested the company may have been better off planning to limit Xen to its OpenSuse operating system, which serves as a testbed for final releases the same way Fedora does for RHEL.

Red Hat currently offers Xen technology to customers via Fedora, and has done so for nearly a year.

Software Head Start

Despite concerns, developers and IT shops have been enthusiastically anticipating Xen technology, and its open source nature means getting it out and into the hands of users and enterprise settings quickly is key, noted Interarbor Solutions Founder and Principal Analyst Dana Gardner.

“I haven’t heard anything monumentally bad, so that’s a good sign,” he said, referring to the Xen technology shipped with SLE 10.

Xen’s inclusion in SLE 10 won the support of tech heavyweight IBM, which announced its own commitment to Xen and support for the open source software in its Virtualization Engine products.

Big Blue said its commitment to Xen is based on a belief that it will help accelerate a standard virtualization technology platform. This will help to enable “high levels of simplicity across diverse platforms,” said IBM Vice President of Worldwide Linux and Open Source Scott Handy.

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