Red Hat has answered the virtualization bandwagon's call in a major way by ushering in a new era that could be described as "Linux on the move."
A cavalcade of company officials held a press conference today to detail various plans for letting customers run the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) operating system in a more fluid way. Buzzwords? Grand promises? Talk of things in clouds? Yes, they were all present during the conference call, but they are some concrete plans afoot to complement the marketing speak.
The most eye-catching new push from Red Hat comes via a partnership with Amazon.com. Under the - prepare yourself - Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) service, customers will be able to run an application certified for RHEL on Amazon's utility computing style data center.
In case you've missed it, Amazon has opened its data centers to customers, allowing them to tap into processing power and storage on a rental basis. This helps Amazon make use of the spare hardware it keeps around to deal with spikes in holiday shopping and presents smaller companies with a way of tapping into a world-class data center.
(Update: Amazon tells us this is not just an excess capacity thing. "In many cases, Amazon.com is using the same web services that our Amazon Web Services customers are using. In fact, we believe this is a core value proposition of these services. Given that these are shared services, we pay a lot of attention to forecasting to make sure that there’s plenty of capacity for everyone. This is really not a utilization of excess capacity.")
Under the Red Hat deal, customers can place their applications onto Amazon's system and then dial up more capacity as needed. Perhaps you've just launched a new version of your software and want to prepare for loads of downloads.
"As part of this solution, Red Hat Network offers a common set of management and automation tools across on-premises deployments and the Amazon EC2 cloud computing environment," Red Hat said. "Red Hat will provide technical support and maintenance of Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Amazon EC2. This is the first commercially supported operating system available on Amazon EC2. "
At present, the service is only available via a private beta. It should, however, go public by the end of the year. "Base prices are $19 per month, per user and $0.21, $0.53 or $0.94 for every compute hour used on Amazon's EC2 service, depending on whether customers choose a small, large or extra-large compute instance size, plus bandwidth and storage fees," the companies said.
You can find more information here.
Pulling our collective heads out of the cloud, we find Red Hat attacking virtualization via a couple more efforts closer to home.
No press release assault would be complete without a point upgrade announcement. That said, we give you RHEL 5.1.
With the fresh operating system release, Red Hat has refined its support for Xen's paravirtualization tools. Users can now perform live moves of virtualized guests and will find paravirtualized drivers for guest OSes and older versions of RHEL (3,4). In addition, Red Hat has added in much better support for Windows OSes, lending a hand to XP, Server 2000, 2003 and 2008 beta guests.
Apparently, the 5.1 release also includes a major speed up for virtual machine I/O performance, so Red Hat thinks customers can now start running beefy software such as databases and ERP/CRM apps in virtual machines. Good luck with that.
Still going with virtualization, Red Hat has revealed more details on its server appliance strategy. It will now work with a broad set of ISVs to craft so-called appliances that can be run on physical servers as well as virtual machines on either VMware ESX Server or Microsoft's upcoming "Viridian" hypervisor.
The appliance thing is mostly a bundling exercise when an ISV's app is paired with RHEL as a single package. Customers can then download this package as a virtual appliance.
There's even a special version of Red Hat dubbed the Appliance Operating System that's meant to help partners with their appliance building. Red Hat will ship this OS in the first half of next year and include a Virtual Appliance Development Kit (vADK), but then you saw that coming.
Some folks that are part of the Red Hat Exchange have already put up some virtual appliances for trial and purchase.
Having missed out on buying VMware or XenSource, Red Hat is now dealing with the rise of virtualization as best as it can. For a company that seems to take forever to do things, today's actions look quite impressive. In particular, the Amazon deal - while swollen with hype - has Red Hat taking the right kind of risk. ®
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