A thing about the Redhat KVM Cluster Suite

Last week we attended the Zarafa SummerCamp 2009 in Krefeld, Germany. An interesting 3 days with all sorts of seminars on Zarafa related topics. While there is a lot to be told about the Zarafa multiserver solution and the fun Z-Push possibilities; there was one topic in special that shocked the people attending. The first blog post on this outrage was the Reality Check post Guy wrote yesterday.

To put it all in one sentence.. The Red Hat KVM Virtual Desktop Controller, part of their Solid Ice software, requires Windows 2003 Server, MS-SQL and Internet Explorer.

And Now, some facts!
We re talking about the Red Hat Solid ICE Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. From the site: Red Hat Solid ICE for Desktops is a comprehensive virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution. It allows you to replace physical desktops with virtual desktops hosted in the datacenter, delivered on-demand, and centrally managed. In short, its the answer to the VMWare VSX suite, the new Red Hat technology for advanced cluster management!
The Red Hat pages don’t mention the requirements for Windows. They do talk about the Qumranet interface, the Spice Protocol and the Solid Ice Solution. They did however confirm the Win2K3 requirements on Friday, so .. After some digging around in the sites, I stumbled upon the Qumranet Product & Solutions White papers page. The Solid Ice White Paper confirms what we were looking for. 😦

Virtual Desktop Controller (VDC)

The VDC front-ends the VDS and contains all the control functions required for the virtual desktop solution. It is in effect, the management system for the entire Solid ICE virtual desktop solution. It manages the provisioning process, connection protocol, user sessions log-on/log-off, virtual desktop pools, virtual desktop images, and the high availability/clustering system.

The VDC application runs on Windows 2003 server and operates in clustered mode with a standby VDC.

Now to summarize some of the consequences. You need your VDC to run the cluster. This means that while installing your spiffy Desktop Virtualization Solution, you ll need the Red Hat servers AND Several Windows 2003 Server installations. This also means that you ll lose the load balancing and the other advanced features when your Windows server goes down. To expand a bit more, if you want a fail-over server, you re planning 2 Win2k3 servers; the software apparently requires Ms-Sql; so unless you run those on the same machines, you ll need another 2 servers! That makes for FOUR Win2k3 servers to run your cluster.

The seminar also revealed that the console is dependent on several ActiveX elements, so that means you ll have to use Internet Explorer to manage the machine and .. I’m honestly only guessing now, but it probably requires an IIS server too!

This is where I ‘ll quote Guy.. “I need to wake up because this is so surreal that it must be a dream”

This really bothers me on 2 levels. First as a linux supporter. How are we to convince anyone that Linux Servers are the way to go for your IT infrastructure over the Microsoft alternatives? And second as an IT Professional. How can we sell this product to our customers? If the core of our software requires several windows servers?
We specialize in Open Source products and all things Linux. None of us have Windows on our computers and we re honestly quite happy that we dont have to face the many problems that are an inherent part of Windows. (And Im not looking for a discussion about this. Its our personal preference, and though it may differ from any one elses; we dont care. Thats what makes it personal. If you want more of a view into what irks us “linux people” when using windows; I can advise you the Linux in Exile blog!)

The practical part of it all though, is that we can Not sell this technology to our customers. We cant waltz in and tell them to choose our superior Linux servers over the Windows equivalent, if our next words have to be “but the brain of our pretty solution will be on 4 Windows servers”. Its a joke and not a very good one at that.

At the session on Friday, everyone had those same questions and when asked, they were told that Red Hat is working on the problem and plans to rewrite the software in Java in the future; no date promised though. And apparently they are encountering a lot of KVM problems, slowing their work on the rewrite.

The only conclusion I can come to, is that they prematurely launched their software. Choosing to capitalize on their investment sooner with an incomplete product instead of later with a completed one. I doubt we ‘ll get answers on that.

My Disgust and Outrage at this news translated into this post for several reasons. The first being that I use my blog to vent, the second that I feel the need to spread awareness. Red Hat has chosen to market this solution to its customers, so the community needs to realize it all. I’m hoping that the open source community will react to this as most of the people did on that talk Friday; and solve the problem. I dont know if RH has already open sourced the windows part, but I hope they have and I hope the community has a swift answer to this horrendous situation!

Finally, I’m hoping someone will tell me I’m wrong about this all and that the problem has already been solved by a nifty piece of Linux Friendly software 🙂

About Comments. I welcome all and any comments, but please do keep some things in mind. I require a minimum of politeness. This also includes not posting anonimously. If your opinion isnt worth attaching your name to it, its probably not worth reading either! Also, I feel that knowlege is important. And so is spreading it. Even if its bad news; Id rather know instead of remaining ignorant. That is the spirit in which this post was written and I realize that this might not be Your point of view, but it IS mine.

Published by Gert


2 thoughts on “A thing about the Redhat KVM Cluster Suite

  1. I was there asking the same tough questions. I suggest checking out the OpenQRM project; I’m working with them to implement it at a client.


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