RHEV Upgrade Saga: RHEL 7 Licensing and RHEV Support

While continuing on my way toward getting a fully running RHEV set up on RHEL 7, I find myself facing two new problems. Neither has a simple solution. The first is the lack of support in RHEV for RHEL 7 as a hypervisor. The second concerns a change in Red Hat’s handling of virtualization licenses. Solving these issues will entail making some hard choices or spending lots of money.

RHEV RHEL 7 Support

RHEL 7 as a hypervisor support does not even exist in oVirt (the upstream project for RHEV). I wished to install RHEV in hosted-engine mode. When RHEL 7 came out, I fully expected all of Red Hat’s products to be at the same level and support the latest hypervisors, etc. Granted, OpenStack 4.0 is available, but I wanted to try out oVirt/RHEV and see where I could get. At the time of this writing, my only two options for managing my KVM system(s) are to use virt-manager directly and connect to each hypervisor, or to use something like HotLink to manage my KVM hosts from within VMware vCenter. The second appeals to me, as I have been using vSphere since v1.5; yet, a full Red Hat solution is where I wish to go. When will RHEL 7 as a hypervisor be supported inside oVirt? I have no idea; there is nothing yet that tells me.

So, for RHEV, we are in a wait and see mode.

RHEL 7 Licensing

I run many RHEL virtual machines. I want to upgrade my templates and base images to RHEL 7, so that I have a unified approach to management, but this is not possible yet. Why? Because in order to upgrade to RHEL 7, you need to use Red Hat’s new Subscription Manager within the RHN portal. Subscription Manager works quite a bit differently than the traditional RHN. For one, if you have a Virtual Datacenter license, which used to cover multiple hypervisors, you license per hypervisor. At least, that is what I gather from the current discussion with Red Hat.

A Virtual Datacenter spans hypervisors, so why is it locked to a single hypervisor? This is either a massive oversight within Red Hat or a ploy to make more dollars. I hope it is an oversight. However, what this means is that all those folks who use RHEL within VMware vSphere and other hypervisors, including KVM, will just refrain from switching to RHEL 7 immediately. This will definitely prolong the use of RHEL 6.5 until all the tools and licensing catch up with RHEL 7. The other option is to invest in a RedHat Satellite server, which is fairly pricy but would also solve this problem.

Where Am I Going from Here?

The RHEV Upgrade Saga may be stalled until three things happen:

  • RHEV/oVirt supports RHEL 7
  • Licensing of RHEL 7 is fixed for Virtual Datacenters (these SPAN hosts are not tied to any given host)
  • There is a better way to manage RedHat KVM (perhaps using OpenStack?)

If you want to stay with Red Hat and are currently using RHEV and traditional RHN, you may want to hold off on RHEL 7 until such time as these items are fixed or documented in a better way. I know I have to do so, which will delay my rollout to RHEL 7 for all my virtual machines.

Edward Haletky

Edward L. Haletky, aka Texiwill, is an author, analyst, developer, technologist, and business owner. Edward owns AstroArch Consulting, Inc., providing virtualization, security, network consulting and development and TVP Strategy where he is also an Analyst. Edward is the Moderator and Host of the Virtualization Security Podcast as well as a guru and moderator for the VMware Communities Forums, providing answers to security and configuration questions. Edward is working on new books on Virtualization.

6 thoughts on “RHEV Upgrade Saga: RHEL 7 Licensing and RHEV Support”

  1. If RHEL7 as a hypervisor for RHEV isn’t supported, why even continue with the “struggle”? You wouldn’t be complaining about anything unsupported with any other virtualization vendors, so why RH? In my opinion, RHEL7 hosts will either hit RHEV 3.5 or RHEV 4, 3.4 was released at the same time as RHEL 7, and normally, any product that relies on a platform starts developing and working towards a GA based on the new platform after the platform’s GA. In short, I don’t see any reason for your complaints, they basically sound like a whiny “but I want rhel seeeeven”.

    1. Hello Vasily,

      RHEL7 has changed its licensing and that is a big deal to many folks who do not have satellite servers, etc.

      Other hypervisors vendors, do not ship a new version of their hypervisor without all the management tools ready to support it. Often with a required upgrade. So if you want the latest version of Hyper-V or vSphere, you upgrade System Center or vCenter and away you go. Nothing magic there. RedHat has taken a different approach, one that implies for those who need advanced features, such as VFIO, that they are stuck until their management tools catch up.

      If vCenter did not work with the latest version of ESXi then there would be some fairly serious consequences. When Windows 2012 came out, Hyper-V was readily supported within System Center. So when RHEL7 came out, it is perfectly reasonable to expect it to work within RHEV.

      So yes I am currently in a wait and see mode. There is a beta of the latest RHEV that does support RHEL7 that is out now, waiting to see if I can get my hands on it.

      The real crux of the problem however is not the unavailability of RHEV, virt-manager does work after all but it is a bit clunky, but that there has been a pretty major change in licensing that impacts not just RHEV, but vSphere, Hyper-V, Xen, and any hypervisor running RHEL7 VMs. You have to license each hypervisor separately where today you do not.

      Best regards,
      Edward L. Haletky

      1. Hi All,
        Unfortunately, this is incorrect. A Virtual Data Center subscription is designed to cover high density Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtual machine environments running a non-Red Hat hypervisor. You can still purchase a Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription – this is good for up to 2 Physical Sockets for a Bare Metal deployment **OR** 2 virtual machines on any hypervisor. The subscription follows the guest and is not tied to the hypervisor in this case. These subscriptions are “stackable” to support systems with greater than 2 sockets. You would use this in an instance where you many Windows machines on you hypervisor platform and only a few Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems.

        Red Hat has also released a Red Hat Enterprise Linux + Smart Virtualization subscription that allows you to deploy Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization or KVM as a hypervisor on a 2 socket system **and** deploy unlimited Red Hat Enterprise Linux guests. It is a couple hundred bucks on top of the VDC sub.

        So, not a cash grab. Just trying to make the subs simpler.

        Subscription-manager provides way better tracking for guests and subscriptions than RHN classic. Yes, its different, but once you use it, you are going to like it way better – especially from a channel/repo management perspective.

        Paul Armstrong
        Red Hat

        1. Then the subscription(s) have changed. I actually do like subscription-manager but at the time I would have had to buy 4 licenses over the 1 I already use. I think it is still the same way and I will need to reprice things. I have 4 vSphere hosts and 1 RHEL7+KVM host, so licensing is a bit different.

  2. RHEL7 is fully supported as guest operating system. RHEL7 as a hypervisor is something completely different so I do not see the issue with the management tools…

    1. Hello,

      Agreed it is supported as a GOS but what I really want due to my need for VFIO-PCI-VGA support is RHEL7 to be supported as a hypervisor with the management tools to support what is currently shipping. Unfortunately the real problem is not that I am using RHEL7 as a hypervisor but that RedHat changed their licensing in such a way that to run what I do now on 6.5 will cost nearly 5x with RHEL7. That alone is not a good move by RedHat, actually, it could end up being disastrous. I already know of some companies who use RedHat, are switching away from them due to the sudden increase in licensing.

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