KubeVirt is a tool for scheduling and managing the lifecycle of Virtual Machines (VMs) across a distributed set of nodes. In a broad sense KubeVirt is targeting all use-cases involving VM placement and management in the datacenter.

This means KubeVirt is being built with a feature set capable of delivering both the scale out functionality that powers cloud IaaS projects as well as the high availability features desired for on premise datacenter virtualization. Since KubeVirt is built upon Kubernetes, this also introduces the option of a hybrid cluster where both container and virtualized workloads coexist.

This may sound ambitious and slightly confusing considering how many other projects exist in the VM scheduling space. By comparing KubeVirt to these other projects, it should be clear what KubeVirt’s scope is and where it fits in the ecosystem.

KubeVirt vs. Other Projects


Kubernetes is an open source project built to automate deployment and lifecycle management of containerized applications.

KubeVirt is a drop in addon that can be applied to any to Kubernetes cluster that gives Kubernetes the ability to manage VMs.


OpenStack is an open source IaaS platform built of various components to provide a wide range of features such as compute (VM scheduling), networking, block storage, object storage, etc.

KubeVirt is a single component focused entirely on VM scheduling and lifecycle management. Network and block storage are something that KubeVirt consumes from other systems and not something KubeVirt attempts to define. Similar to the way Libvirt has become a standard for managing VMs on a local node across multiple projects, we hope to see KubeVirt become the widely adopted standard for scheduling VMs. It is theoretically possible OpenStack could adopt KubeVirt for VM scheduling.


Nova is the open source component of OpenStack responsible for VM scheduling. Nova provides an abstraction layer that allows multiple virtualization technologies to be utilized. This means Nova is maintaining drivers for technologies such as Xen, VMware, KVM, Hyper-V, and LXC.

KubeVirt has made the choice to focus on KVM managed by Libvirt. Initially this may sound like it is limiting KubeVirt’s functionality, but in practice KVM and Libvirt have emerged as the leading standard in open source virtualization. By focusing on this technology stack we aren’t limited by creating a one size fits all virtualization technology abstraction. We can fully support a feature set that leverages all that Libvirt and KVM have to offer.


oVirt is an open source virtualization management platform that provides VM scheduling, network and storage. One of the fundamental differences between oVirt and other similar projects like OpenStack is the requirement for infrastructure High Availability.

Cloud infrastructure provided by OpenStack or public clouds like EC2 and GCE make the assumption that applications running on their platforms have resiliency built in. oVirt is for the use cases where applications require strict HA guarantees at the infrastructure level. With oVirt, data integrity is enforced by node level fencing.

KubeVirt aims to provide a feature set capable of providing the strong consistency guarantees required for oVirt VMs as well as the scale out functionality desired for cloud IaaS VMs. Compared to oVirt, KubeVirt could replace the scheduling component of oVirt and consume network and storage from Kubernetes.


Libvirt is an open source project that provides a feature set for handling VM lifecycle actions (start, stop, pause, save, restore, and live migration) as well as VM network and storage interface management on a local node. Libvirt features are provided by the libvirtd daemon which exposes an API client applications can invoke.

KubeVirt is leveraging the libvirt daemon for management of KVM VMs. Although KubeVirt could invoke KVM directly, this would require KubeVirt reimplementing functionality that libvirt already provides. It’s worth noting here that KubeVirt is primarily using libvirt for it’s virtualization capabilities. Storage and network will be consumed from Kubernetes.

AWS EC2 and Google GCE

EC2 and GCE are closed source public cloud IaaS offerings provided by AWS and Google. This means users are locked into using datacenters and pricing models provided by these companies. Both of these projects provide an API allowing users to schedule and manage VMs within their datacenters. Those APIs are tightly coupled with other AWS and Google services that provide networking, storage, and other capabilities.

It should be obvious that KubeVirt is not a service. Kubevirt is an opensource project that focuses solely on scheduling VMs onto a cluster of machines and is not tightly coupled to any network or storage backend. When compared to EC2 and GCE, we view KubeVirt’s scope to be that of the scheduling component provided by these services.

We aim to provide the kind of feature set and flexibility that would allow IaaS providers to replace their underlying VM scheduling component with KubeVirt.

Use Cases

Hopefully by understanding KubeVirt’s relationship to other projects the scope of KubeVirt is more obvious. KubeVirt is not trying to compete with any of these projects, but instead it is a tool these projects can adopt for scheduling VMs and consuming storage/network resources rather than maintaining their own custom logic.

To distill all of this down to more precise terms, these are the use cases we are initially focusing on.

Cloud Virtualization - A feature set capable of managing VM scale out with the type of abstractions people have come to expect from cloud IaaS APIs provided by OpenStack, EC2, and GCE.

Datacenter Virtualization - Providing the strong infrastructure consistency guarantees required for projects managing pet VMs.

Kubernetes Trusted Workloads - The ability to run virtualized workloads in a Kubernetes cluster that are unsafe to run without the security guarantees a hypervisor provides.

Combining Container and Virtualized Workloads - The ability to schedule both container and virtualized workloads on the same Kubernetes cluster.