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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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Red Hat's revenue grew at a 20% rate in its first quarter of fiscal 2011, despite the lingering effects of the recession. One of its customers, Ganart Technologies, a financial services firm, illustrates how Red Hat is positioning itself in the era of cloud computing and how virtualization may prove to be one of the contributors to its ongoing revenue growth.

Ganart's reliance on several forms of open source code as the basis for a set of software-as-a-service products also shows how Red Hat poses an alternative to Oracle, another fast-growing company through the recession. In its most recent quarter, Oracle said its revenue grew 48%. Like Red Hat, Oracle has ambitions to become a supplier of the private cloud and virtualization. It issues a Linux distribution, Oracle Linux, based on the CentOS knockoff of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and offers technical support at prices below Red Hat's.

A considerable tension exists between the two firms as they compete in different ways for some of the same Linux users. As Oracle tries to move onto the turf of the skinnier Red Hat and kick sand in its face, the Ganart example suggests how Red Hat may stick around and fight back as a competitor.

Ganart VP of software development Kristopher Glover said his firm supplies financial transaction management and check cashing services to "the unbanked and underserved" who lack easy access to banks or bank ATM machines where they have accounts. Using Ganart services, a check can be deposited or cashed at a generic kiosk machine provided by Ganart or a partner to fulfill the function of what used to be a bricks-and-mortar check cashing store.

Ganart services are allowing a new form of banking transactions to take shape, primarily in California and Texas, through its kiosks, touchscreen devices, and mobile devices that generate a browser window to provide transaction services to those who don't have ready access to a bank, Glover said.

Ganart transaction processing host software runs on a cluster of seven Dell PowerEdge R710 rack mount servers, each with 64 GB of RAM, attached to five different networks, said Glover. He runs Red Hat Enterprise Linux on the servers, with Red Hat's KVM hypervisor generating and managing eight to 10 virtual machines per server.

Glover said policies for the virtual machines are set through the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization management console. Enterprise Virtualization is the management system that Red Hat has built out around the KVM hypervisor since its acquisition of the Israeli firm Qumranet two years ago. The VMs can be moved around while running through point-and-click decisions made at the console. Features of the console include calling up additional virtual machines for workload balancing or consolidating virtual machines on fewer servers for power savings.

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