IBM resells Virtual Bridges VDI powered by KVM

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Virtual Bridges is a company founded at the end of 2006, that always offered commercial flavors of QEMU for Linux, BSD and Solaris platforms.
After KVM made its appearance Virtual Bridges started to implement support for it on its products for Linux. Where KVM is not available KQEUM is automatically used.

In August it significantly extended its scope by releasing its first VDI connection broker for KVM: Win4VDI.

Compared to other products in this space, Win4VDI doesn’t connect the user to the actual guest OS, but rather to the underlying host. From there the user session is started.
In this way Virtual Bridges can leverage the authentication methods and profiles that the host is using.

The choice has been courageous.
Even if KVM is part of the Linux kernel and even if its maintainer, Qumranet, has been acquired by Red Hat, the spread of a new virtualization platform must surpass a huge obstacle: the ISVs support.
And at this point no ISV formally supported its applications inside KVM virtual machines.

Despite that, Virtual Bridges has been rewarded as IBM just closed an agreement with them to resell a bundle made by:

  • Canonical Ubuntu Linux (which is adopting KVM in place of Xen since February)
  • Virtual Bridges VERDE (a subset of WIN4VDI that only supports Linux guest OSes)
  • IBM Lotus Symphony, Lotus Notes and the other Lotus applications (dubbed Open Collaboration Client Solution)

The whole package is available at $49 per concurrent user.

So the move is remarkable because IBM is the first big player supporting (and actively selling) KVM-based virtual infrastructures. But it’s also remarkable considering how heavily IBM invested in Xen in the past.
After the acquisition of XenSource by Citrix, a number of entities behind the open source hypervisor development were reportedly unhappy and decided to shift to KVM. And this seems the first concrete step that demonstrate how unhappy IBM is about Xen.

True or not, looking at what IBM just did, we can have an idea of what Red Hat could do.
The difference between the two vendors is that Red Hat is in a much better position to sell an out of the box VDI package: it controls the operating system, it (indirectly) controls the virtualization platform, it controls the connection broker, and its role in the industry as OS provider certainly gives much influence on what ISV applications will be supported on top.

Now, considering that, besides Qumranet, Virtual Bridges is currently the only other vendor offering a connection broker for KVM and that its experience has to be somewhat limited, the real question is: why IBM didn’t do this with Red Hat instead of Ubuntu and Virtual Bridges?