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The Evolution of Virtualization Management: From LibVirt to KubeVirt

LibVirt, KubeVirt, KVM

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Over my last 10+ years there has been incredible changes in Virtualization – reflected in an applications entire lifecycle and how its built, deployed, protected, operated/managed, and consumed. This movement has birthed numerous technologies, companies, jobs, expertise, and processes, resulting in operational efficiencies in both soft and hard dollars, and value.

Virtualization has revolutionized the way we manage and utilize computing resources, offering efficient solutions for server consolidation, resource optimization, and workload isolation. While proprietary solutions have long dominated the virtualization landscape, the rise of open-source technologies has further revolutionized the field…go ask industry leaders like Red Hat, Google, Amazon and Microsoft. I have been through this journey with Trilio and our customers; and, in this blog will share my experience tracing virtualizations evolution from KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) to the modern-day KubeVirt, an innovative open-source project that brings virtual machines to Kubernetes.

Yesterday… VMware started it all

According to Wikipedia, in 1998, VMware was founded by Diane Greene, Mendel Rosenblum, Scott Devine, Ellen Wang and Edouard Bugnion. VMware’s products predate the virtualization extensions to the x86 instruction set, and do not require virtualization-enabled processors. The first product, VMware Workstation, was delivered in May 1999, and the company entered the server market in 2001 with VMware GSX Server (hosted) and VMware ESX Server (hostless)….from here IT will never be the same again.

KVM, born in 2006, marked a significant shift in virtualization technology. As an integral part of the Linux kernel, KVM allowed users to create and manage virtual machines (VMs) directly from the host’s operating system. This eliminated the need for para-virtualization, resulting in a leaner and more efficient virtualization solution (high performance, broad hardware compatibility, efficient resource utilization)

Coupled with an open-source virtualization API (LibVirt), KVM quickly became a fundamental component in many virtualization stacks such as OpenStack. Once these technologies have reached a level of understanding and maturity, the IT landscape continued to evolve, a new paradigm emerged: containerization.

Today… Containerization and Kubernetes

Then there is the the impact of containers, with their lightweight and efficient design, offering an alternative to traditional virtualization. As organizations worldwide embrace the principles of microservices and containerization, Kubernetes has emerged as the go-to solution for managing containerized applications at scale. Kubernetes robust features, including automated deployment, scaling, and self-healing, have empowered businesses to achieve new levels of agility and efficiency in application deployment. Furthermore, the vibrant open-source community surrounding Kubernetes has fostered continuous innovation and support, making it the cornerstone of modern container ecosystems.

Tomorrow… Enter KubeVirt

KubeVirt is an open-source project that extends the Kubernetes platform to manage and orchestrate virtual machines (VMs) alongside containers. It allows you to run VMs within a Kubernetes cluster, enabling you to combine the benefits of both containers and VMs in a unified infrastructure. This integration is particularly useful for organizations that have existing VM-based workloads and want to migrate to a containerized or cloud-native environment while preserving their VM investments. KubeVirt provides tools and resources to manage VMs using Kubernetes primitives, making it easier to manage mixed workloads in a single platform.

The big news here is that while Kubernetes excelled at managing containers, the world had to decide between VMware virtualized environments and Kubernetes container based environments with a wall in between the two, which then drove the need for running virtual machines (VMs) alongside containers in a seamless manner. Enter KubeVirt, a groundbreaking project that bridges the gap between VMs and containers within the Kubernetes ecosystem. This open-source project, developed by Red Hat and now leveraged by other trailblazers like SpectroCloud and Platform9, extends Kubernetes’ capabilities to manage VMs alongside containers, creating a single, unified platform for all workloads. Furthermore, this approach of co-existence allows organizations to march down the path of breaking apart monolithic applications with microservices at their own leisure. KubeVirt brings the benefits of Kubernetes, such as automation, scaling, and declarative configuration, to traditional virtualization.

KubeVirt has many, many advantages over the old way of virtualization management. To name a few:

  • Resource Efficiency: KubeVirt leverages Kubernetes’ efficient resource management, allowing VMs and containers to share resources seamlessly. This ensures optimal resource utilization and cost savings.
  • Scalability: Kubernetes’ inherent scalability extends to KubeVirt, making it suitable for both small-scale deployments and large-scale, cloud-native environments.
  • Hybrid Workloads: KubeVirt enables organizations to run hybrid workloads, where VMs and containers coexist, providing the flexibility to choose the best approach for each application.
  • API-Driven Automation: KubeVirt offers a powerful API that simplifies VM lifecycle management, enabling automation and integration with other Kubernetes tools and platforms.
  • Security: KubeVirt inherits the robust security features of Kubernetes, ensuring VMs are isolated and protected within the cluster.

The convergence of traditional virtualization and containerization, epitomized by KubeVirt’s innovation, heralds a paradigm shift. KubeVirt offers an expansive vista for highly efficient, infinitely scalable, and universally deployable applications.

KubeVirt’s significance in contemporary IT infrastructure, especially within the ever-expanding realm of cloud-native computing, is undeniable. Whether you’re a seasoned IT professional, a developer, or a curious observer of virtualization’s evolution, KubeVirt is a pivotal force reshaping the future of IT infrastructure that warrants vigilant attention.