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Red Hat Acquires Virtualization Pioneer For $107 Million

The addition of Qumranet and its KVM hypervisor will give Red Hat Enterprise Linux a chance to play an expanded role in enterprise virtualization.

Red Hat has acquired Qumranet, a small Israeli firm, for $107 million, the company announced Thursday.

Qumranet is the supplier of KVM, the only hypervisor to be included in the Linux kernel. The addition of Qumranet will give Red Hat Enterprise Linux a chance to play an expanded role in enterprise virtualization.

The move potentially puts Red Hat in a position closer to Microsoft's than VMware's: as the owner of Qumranet, Red Hat will be able to supply virtualization features that are part of the operating system, or tied into a hypervisor that's part of the operating system, just as Microsoft makes Hyper-V a part of Windows Server 2008.

"Qumranet's KVM and virtual desktop infrastructure technologies are at the forefront of the next generation of virtualization," said Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat president, in announcing the deal.

KVM is open source code issued under the GPLv2 license, same as Linux. It was added to the Linux kernel 2.6.20 in October 2006. It was a compact, 12,000-line patch submitted by Qumranet's lead developer Avi Kivity. It exploited both the virtualization hooks in the latest chips from AMD and Intel and the Linux kernel's scheduling engine, instead of adding one of its own. Kernel developers liked the patch because it didn't affect other operations of the kernel and fit easily within the kernel's modular infrastructure, said Andrew Morton, a lieutenant of Linus Torvalds' in kernel development, in a 2007 interview.

Qumranet produces Solid ICE, a product for desktop virtualization that generates and stores virtual desktops on a central server but allows individuals to vary them within certain policy limits. The user's desktop may be using Windows or Linux as its operating system, said Qumranet spokesmen in interviews last year.

Qumranet's CTO and co-founder, Moshe Bar, is a former founder of XenSource, supplier of the Xen open source hypervisor and now part of Citrix Systems.

Red Hat said the addition of Qumranet to its line-up will not contribute materially to its revenues for the fiscal year ending Feb. 28, 2009, but it should add $20 million to Red Hat's revenues in the following year.

Red Hat is seeking to compete in the still immature desktop virtualization market through the acquisition, Whitehurst said.

"Red Hat… has collaborated enthusiastically with us since the very beginning," said Benny Schnaider, Qumranet CEO. "I, along with the entire Qumranet team, am pleased to be joining Red Hat to create market-leading virtualization solutions," he said. He is the former CEO of PentaCom, a firm acquired by Cisco in 2000. Gumranet's chairman is Giora Yaron, former chairman of Mercury Interactive, acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2006.

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