Red Hat KVM Virtualization Powers Banking Startup - InformationWeek
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Red Hat KVM Virtualization Powers Banking Startup

Financial services firm Ganart's experience with the open source code as the basis for its check cashing kiosks indicates how Red Hat is positioning itself for growth in private clouds.

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"Ninety-five percent of what we do is through Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization," Glover said. When he started the virtualization process three years ago, he considered VMware but would have had to push a larger than approved capital budget through his company's executive committee to make the investment. "I probably could have forced my way through" the process, but Glover thinks "part of my responsibility is being a good steward of the company's money." As a VP of the Carrollton, Texas, startup, he opted for the open source code route instead.

"Having a lot of expertise with Red Hat (products) gives us power and flexibility in our approach. It was a significant savings over the VMware option," he recalls. Ganart even runs its MySQL database systems in KVM virtual machines.

"With REV (Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization), we can see CPU and random access memory usage, and inspect the network connections," Glover said. Getting the maximum from his virtualized resources is a requirement since Ganart's business is cyclical, with customers making heavy use of their kiosks and other means of connection to deposit paychecks and pay bills at the start of each month. "Our services go to the people at the bottom of the pyramid, those who are living paycheck to paycheck," he said.

The transactions must have the isolation, privacy, and security guarantees set by the payment card industry standards and SAS 70. The switches serving the host servers have themselves been virtualized and serve to direct VLAN traffic to the virtual machines.

Glover said there's a thriving open source community around the KVM hypervisor and he expects it to remain closely tied to the Linux operating system itself. KVM stands for kernel virtual machine because the KVM hypervisor works inside the Linux kernel, making use of its scheduler and memory manager instead of duplicating those functions in the hypervisor itself. "KVM itself does everything we want it to do. As an open source project, it's a great thing to build on," he claimed.

In Glover's view, Ganart has been operating as a private cloud or highly virtualized server cluster managed through the virtualization layer for the past 12 months, and will continue to do so as more servers are added to the cluster. "There's a lot of elasticity in our rack. We can move things around as we need to," and he's counting on open source and Red Hat development to continue to keep him abreast of industry changes.

Only if it does will Ganart remain competitive, he realizes. "It has to be fault tolerant, secure, reliable, and able to deliver services from a constrained amount of space." There's still room for improvement, he said.

But from the Ganart point of view, "People are fleeing the banks, swelling our opportunity." Red Hat, Linux, and KVM are helping him move into that opening and benefit.

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