If you’ve been around the industry for awhile, the first thought that comes to mind when someone says “KVM” is the “Keyboard-Video-Mouse” switch that allows you to manage multiple systems through a single console. While that is still valid, the more current definition of KVM is “Kernel-based Virtual Machine”. So let’s talk about what that is, and what it means to today’s IT professional.
The kernel component of KVM was first included in mainline Linux, 2.6.20, released in February 2007. It is a Linux virtualization solution that allows multiple Windows or Linux virtual machines to run on a single physical server. KVM has enjoyed continued improvement and development since its original introduction, and is now generally considered to be a mainstream virtualization hypervisor. In fact, KVM is able to stand on its own against such competitors as VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Citrix XenServer.
Red Hat, one of the predominant distributions of Linux, offers KVM-based virtualization through subscriptions to several of its distributions including single guest, four guest, or unlimited guest versions of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux). It also offers a subscription for a lighter-weight, bare-metal hypervisor distribution known as RHEV (Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization) Hypervisor.
KVM recently got a rather large boost by IBM’s shift to open source cloud architecture. IBM opened the KVM Center or Excellence labs in Beijing around the end of 2012 and has announced a second location in New York. The aim is to encourage enterprise adoption of KVM because of its affordability and exceptional performance.