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Red Hat Summit recap: RHEL 6.1, cloud platforms, and a new openness

May 6, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Red Hat released Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.1 to select customers at this week's Red Hat Summit, in which the Linux market leader promoted a greater tolerance for open-ended hybrid platforms. The event featured announcements of a “Red Hat CloudForms” cloud-computing initiative plus a related “OpenShift” platform as a service for open source cloud developers, among other news.

The final version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL 6.1) is not yet generally available, but was released to select partners this week at the Red Hat Summit in Boston, according to a report by Darryl Taft, writing in our sister publication eWEEK.

The release follows a beta version posted in late March, as well as the RHEL 6.0 release last November. The final is expected to be generally available in the coming weeks, says eWEEK.

RHEL 6.1 features virtualization performance optimizations, new hardware enablement, improved operational efficiency, and high availability improvements, says Red Hat. Newly enhanced development and monitoring tools are said to include a Gdb debugger with improved C++ and Python handling and a Valgrind memory tracing tool that's tuned for multicore processors.

An updated Eclipse development environment includes enhanced breakpoint and code generation for C/C++ and Java, says the company.

Red Hat also announced today that the 2012 Red Hat Summit and JBoss World will once again return to Boston, and will be held at Hynes Convention Center, June 26-29, 2012.

CloudForms pushes Red Hat further into the clouds

Earlier this week at the Red Hat Summit in Boston, Red Hat announced a sweeping CloudForms cloud-computing initiative that includes a new offering for creating and managing cloud environments. It also unveiled an OpenShift platform for developers using open source technology to create cloud applications.

As reported in a separate story by Taft at eWEEK, the beta release of Red Hat CloudForms provides a way for IT departments to create and manage IAAS (infrastructure as a service) private and hybrid clouds. Due to arrive in final form later this year, the beta CloudForms incorporates both ALM (application lifecycle management) and the ability to create integrated clouds from a range of computing resources with portability across physical, virtual, and cloud-computing resources, says the story.

CloudForms addresses key problems encountered in Red Hat's first-generation cloud products, says eWEEK. In particular, it is said to help mitigate the cost and complexity of growing virtual server sprawl, compliance nightmares, and security concerns. CloudForms is also touted for enabling users to more easily configure and manage complex multi-tier applications, rather than having to independently manage large numbers of virtual servers.

According to Red Hat, CloudForms enables applications to be more quickly modified for time-critical security fixes, application updates, or configuration changes. Compliance and security problems associated with clouds are said to be substantially reduced because administrators know and control the applications, their configurations, and where they are allowed to execute.

The technology also enables the creation of hybrid clouds using existing computing resources, including virtual servers, from many different vendors, such as Red Hat and VMware, writes Taft. It is said to support a range of public clouds from Red Hat Certified Cloud Providers such as Amazon, IBM, and NTT Communications, as well as traditional in-house or hosted physical servers, including high-density racks and blades.

"Red Hat's delivery of CloudForms is a game-changer for the industry," stated Lew Tucker, vice president and chief technology officer for cloud computing at Cisco. "Red Hat CloudForms introduces a new level of openness and choice for application developers."

OpenShift seeks open source cloud developers

In conjunction with CloudForms, Red Hat also announced OpenShift. This PAAS (platform as a service) for developers who build on open source platforms is said to offer more choice in languages, frameworks, and clouds available for developers to build, test, run, and manage their applications.

The technology builds on Red Hat's JBoss expertise and delivers features including CDI (Contexts and Dependency Injection). Support is said to be planned for Java EE 6.

Red Hat touts OpenShift for its ability to "end the lock-in of PAAS, allowing users to choose the cloud provider upon which their application will run," writes Taft.

OpenShift is also said to bring the Red Hat and JBoss ecosystems to PAAS, giving developers access to the company's middleware services. For example, OpenShift launches with support for MongoDB and other services certified to RHEL.

OpenShift will be delivered as an online service, and is available now in a developer preview, with general availability coming at a later date.  OpenShift will come in three editions — a free Express edition, available now, plus Flex and Power editions, currently available as developer previews.

Cloud deals with HP and BMC

This week, Red Hat also announced new cloud-related agreements with a pair of longtime IT partners, Hewlett-Packard and BMC Software. In the HP deal, Red Hat announced what it calls the Red Hat Cloud-HP Edition, which is a private cloud design and reference architecture for IAAS clouds combining Red Hat Cloud solutions with HP's CloudSystem, Cloud Maps, and associated services, says the story.

Meanwhile, BMC is offering new Red Hat product described as a tightly integrated turnkey DLM platform that will consist of its own Cloud Lifecycle Management solution running on RHEL and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV).

A shift toward openness?

This week's Red Hat Summit in Boston not only demonstrated Red Hat's increasing focus on cloud platforms, but also suggested the company was promoting its offerings as a more open platform than it has in the past. While last year's event was dominated by Red Hat's attempt to force KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) technology on the industry over Xen or VMware, the company is now taking a more open-ended, hands-off approach, writes Barbara Darrow in an IT Knowledge Exchange blog.

It is notable that CloudForms supports existing technologies including "virtual servers from Red Hat or VMware, public clouds by Amazon, IBM, and others, and on-premises or hosted physical servers," writes Darrow.

Neither will Red hat play favorites with OpenShift, she adds. The open source platform is said to support Java, Python, PHP, and Ruby programming languages, as well as frameworks including Spring, Seam, Weld, CDI, Rails, Zend, Django, and Java EE.

According to Darrow, Red Hat is simply facing up to reality. There are "a heckuva a lot RHEL shops running (gasp!) VMware," she writes. "Even RHEL shops that would love to go with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) aren't gonna go there until they no longer have to run RHEV management on a Windows (yes, Windows!) server. That hated Windows requirement will finally go away with the upcoming RHEV 3 release."

According to Larry Dignan, writing in ZDNet, the new CloudForms and OpenShift, as well as various JBoss middleware enhancements, indicate Red Hat's increasing diversification from its RHEL foundations. Dignan points to a research note from Stifel Nicolaus analyst Tim Klasell arguing that Red Hat's open cloud pitch should play well, especially considering that CIOs are increasingly becoming worried about being locked in.

Dignan also cites a recent note from Oppenheimer analyst Brad Reback stating that Red Hat is "no longer just a one-trick pony." Reback was said to have added, "In just five years, JBoss transformed from one middleware product (application platform) to offering a suite of eight middleware products."

On the JBoss front, Red Hat announced this week that it has opened registration to an early access program for JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 6. The release is planned for general availability at the beginning of next year, according to another eWEEK report.

Red Hat partners on KVM

Despite its more open posture, Red Hat still hasn't given up on advocating KVM as the virtualization platform of the future. In another eWEEK story, Taft reports on an announcement that led off the show about a new partnership with IBM to collaborate on KVM technology.

Together, IBM and Red Hat will drive adoption of the KVM technology through jointly developing key virtualization and cloud management interfaces and using the APIs in their respective management products, including RHEV, IBM Director, and Tivoli software, says the story. The APIs will address cloud, datacenter automation, virtual storage and networking, virtualization security, and virtual appliance management.

All told, the Summit seems to have been a smashing success for Red Hat, which continues to be the driving force for Linux in the server world, as well as increasingly, in the cloud market. Meanwhile, with Attachmate's recent consummation of its Novell acquisition featuring widespread layoffs, questions remain about the future of RHEL's chief rival SUSE Linux.

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