The KVM Groundswell Continues


Jim Wasko is Director of IBM’s Linux Technology Center.

Jim-Wasko-IBMKVM (Kernel based Virtual Machine) is a leading open source virtualization technology and an important tool in any Linux administrator’s handbook, especially with the increased adoption of cloud technologies such as OpenStack and the need for hypervisors to better manage compute, network and storage resources. The “potential” of KVM for enterprises is incredibly valuable far beyond its origins – just like Linux. After a year of contributing patches to the KVM community, IBM is announcing today that a Power Systems version of KVM, PowerKVM, will be available on IBM’s next generation Power Systems servers tuned for Linux before the end of the quarter.

You may remember that IBM officially announced its intent to run KVM on Power Systems servers at last year’s Red Hat Summit in Boston. However, we felt it was equally important to not only follow up when KVM on Power was a reality but to address why IBM is supporting KVM so heavily. There are two reasons we created a KVM product to exploit the Power Systems architecture – beyond its increasing deployment in the open source environment. First, Linux users wanted a “familiar” look-and-feel for virtualization; and second, cloud solutions demand KVM’s flexibility, performance, and OpenStack integration. We also recognize that for those who prefer to work in a pure Linux environment, working with KVM is highly desirable.

Just like Linux, KVM for Power exploits the underlying hardware including multi-threading, large memory support, a range of I/O. It also comes with Kimchi – a graphical open source tool for easy virtualization management of simple configurations. Larger configurations such as clouds can be managed with OpenStack-based tools.

There is great opportunity for growth in KVM, and through the contributions of the large developer community, the hypervisor will continue to evolve and innovate. Now, thanks to the work by the Linux Foundation and the Open Virtualization Alliance, KVM is gaining recognition beyond the community and becoming a mainstream answer to solving virtualization needs.

A few weeks ago, at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, KVM was a key topic of conversation amongst the attending member organizations, especially around its use in conjunction with OpenStack. It’s a perfect example of how KVM as a technology is growing in maturity, being woven into the various elements of a data center, network or cloud offering from the beginning, rather than being considered after an issue or need arises.

It certainly seems as if 2014 will be a major year for KVM in technology. Expect more from IBM as well as other technology players and it will likely be a key piece of the story as the cloud – and eventually the open cloud — continues to mature. KVM’s day in the spotlight has only just begun and at least at IBM, we are excited to embrace and support another important open source movement.

Jim Wasko is the Director of IBM’s Linux Technology Center (LTC), where he is responsible for Linux development across IBM’s broad product portfolio. His Linux involvement began in 2000 leading the team that provided enterprise-level Linux support — a major step by IBM at the time. He transitioned various leadership roles in Linux Operating System development in the LTC during the mid-2000s. With Linux being the foundation for cloud computing, he next spent three years as the Program Director for Cloud Computing development in IBM’s Systems and Technology group, helping create IBM’s public and private cloud offerings. In 2010, Jim returned to lead the LTC in his current role as Director. In 2012, the LTC mission was expanded to include OpenStack upstream open source development.