Keep Your Servers and Run Your Applications Forever with Red Hat Virtualization powered by KVM

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Overview

This article was written by myself and fellow colleague Götz Rieger. Often one of the most challenging problems we are facing today is both absorbing and leading change. Software defined-everything has taken over and is leveling the playing field, de-marginalizing staunch competitive advantages and nothing is safe anymore. Develop great applications and thrive or become irrelevant is the mantra facing many organizations. In such environments it is important to innovate constantly, delivering new capabilities at an ever increasing speed. In order to do so, new practices (DevOps), values (Agile) and of course technology (Containers) are being implemented.

Today it seems almost everyone is focused on “the new” software-defined whatever, when in reality change happens at different levels and different speeds. Gartner tried to summarize this with “mode 1 vs mode 2” but that trivializes things too far. It comes down to application lifecycles which dictates dependency on change.  What if certain software doesn’t need to change? What if it has a purpose and is already doing it’s job function? What if the software cannot be ported to a new operating platform? What do you do then? The answer surprisingly, is maybe nothing? Maybe we let those applications live well beyond their intended support lifecycles. Consider the old programs in the Matrix, some found a way to survive and were not killed. These were also some of the most important, powerful programs.

Virtualization has enabled us to let x86 platforms essentially run forever or at least well beyond their support lifecycles (hardware and software). If we consider outdated Cobol applications on UNIX or Windows platforms like NT, XP and 2003; they haven’t been supported for years. Applications running on these platforms might are not able to migrate for whatever reason, else they would have already done so. If we think about it, this is in fact a very valid use case for virtualization. There are of course other considerations that are important, like isolation (since these applications are not receiving patches) but assuming that is handled, why not? If it ain’t broken and doesn’t need to change, why fix it?

In this article we will look at how to run Windows NT Server (an operating system that hasn’t been supported since 2004) on KVM and Red Hat Virtualization powered by KVM.

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