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What is Kernel-based Virtual Machines (KVM)?

Has the term KVM ever been brought up in a Linux based environment? Does the term seem unfamiliar? New? Many hosting and server service users are newly introduced to the term KVM; service providers know that the term is as old as 2007.

So, what is it? The term KVM stands for Kernel-based Virtual Machine. It is associated with Linux operating systems. KVM serves the purpose of virtualization within a system, thus enabling multiple virtual machines to exist in a single software environment. Simply put, if a server uses Linux OS, KVM can be used for a virtual division. It is a Virtual Machine enabler for any user that operates via Linux.

Since it is an open-source virtualization technology, it has been adapted by many hosting providers as an alternative to other virtualization codes that are held under the ownership of single shareholders or companies.

Working of KVM

KVM Architecture

Before starting, know that the term hypervisor is essential. A hypervisor is a place for guest machines to be hosted. A hypervisor is a wholesome system with individual input/output, drivers, disc space, and more. The hardware or software of a hypervisor undergoes optimization of capacity to be distributed among the virtual machines in a balanced manner.

There are two types of hypervisors: Type 1 directly uses the hardware of the system to create virtual machines, whereas Type 2 hypervisor uses the software of the host operating system for a virtual division.

Type 2 hypervisors need a medium to make virtual machines. Here comes the Linux kernel, KVM, that makes any Linux OS software suitable for divisions into small units of virtual machines. It converts a Linux system into a type 2 hypervisor to allow the division of cloud hardware to each of these units for them to work independently.

Advantages of KVM

  • 1. The strongest point of KVM is cloud hardware, which makes each virtual machine self-sufficient.

  • 2. It can convert any Linux based software into a hypervisor, thus eliminating the extra step of finding suitable hardware and software for the job.

  • 3. Optimized for best performance due to the balanced resource distribution of virtual hardware.

  • 4. Supported by many service providers.

  • 5. Free to use

  • 6. KVM is open source and free to use, which means the coding of a KVM program is available to be played around with unlike other kernels that are enterprise owned and operated under strict guidelines.

Alternatives to KVM

The most popular alternative to KVM is VMware, owned and supported by the company of the same name. It might seem worth it, for the enterprise's support, but the cost is high for the same as compared to KVM, which is supported by many service providers under a lower price. Another hurdle in using this kernel over KVM is the unavailability of source code. Moreover, this or any other alternatives to KVM is mostly preferred in Windows-based software.

KVM is the best option to create type 2 hypervisors in any Linux run environment. Not to mention, it creates a balanced ecosystem between individual virtual machines, such as to keep the server running without glitches for the longest time possible.

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Posted By

Aisha Sulaiman

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