Red Hat announced that they've acquired VDI vendor Qumranet for $107M in cash. Qumranet only has one product—an end-to-end VDI product called SolidICE that includes a connection broker, a remote display protocol called Spice, and a hypervisor called KVM.
The connection-broker features of SolidICE are great, but really not that different than Citrix, Ericom, Quest, or VMware in the grand scheme of things. The Spice protocol is amazing, and much more appropriate for VDI than ICA or RDP. And the KVM hypervisor is a direct competitor to VMware ESX, Citrix XenServer, and Microsoft Hyper-V.
This takes us to the million-dollar question for this acquisition: Which "Qumranet" did Red Hat buy? Did they buy "Qumranet, the SolidICE vendor," or did they buy "Qumranet, the KVM creator?"
The whole first half of the press release is about Qumranet, the KVM creator. Actually, only two of the ten paragraphs in the while press release are about VDI and SolidICE. The rest are all about KVM.
Red Hat also posted an FAQ about the acquisition which is also more focused on the general virtualization value of KVM. However, one of the questions listed is: Does this mean that Red Hat is getting into the Windows desktop business?
Their answer: Red Hat will be able to offer a secure and scalable virtualization platform to Windows desktop customers. Red Hat is focused on providing the best infrastructure upon which to run the complete spectrum of enterprise workloads. This will range from server virtualization to desktop virtualization, which includes Linux servers, Windows servers, Linux desktops, and Windows desktops — all running on and managed by a Red Hat infrastructure.
So I guess really Red Hat wants to be another virtualization infrastructure provider, like VMware, Microsoft, or Citrix. Fine enough. I just can't help but wonder what this means for us in the application and desktop delivery space? I wonder if this will be like Symantec buying Altiris or Microsoft buying Softricity, where the portion that we care about sort of loses focus as The Borg concentrates on the parts of the acquired technology that are more relevant to them?
The upside to Red Hat only really caring about KVM is that they might decided to open source Spice. How cool would THAT be? Imagine being able to snap Spice into any Windows VM running on any hypervisor for free!
A few other random thoughts about this acquisition
Regarding the purchase price, $107M for Qumranet is about is crazy / far out as Citrix paying $500M for XenSource. The press release says that Red Hat doesn't expect Qumranet to contribute materially to Red Hat's FY08 revenue, this despite the fact that Red Hat's fiscal year doesn't end for another five months! Also, this deal is all cash, and $107M isn't too much lower than the cash portion of the Citrix / XenSource deal.
Second, it's getting harder and harder for people to argue that KVM is not a real hypervisor. Even though Red Hat was already committed to KVM, now they're obviously more determined focus on KVM over Xen.
The white paper that Gabe and I did analyzing SolidICE and studying desktop workloads on KVM is just about finished. Hopefully we'll get it published next week. As a quick preview, yeah, we like KVM for desktops a lot!
And finally, this is just another in the ever-growing list of BriForum exhibitors that has been acquired. It just confirms that after six BriForum events, if you want to see the future of our industry, BriForum is the place to do it!