Red Hat Aims RHEL 5.4 At The Cloud

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New operating system release and hypervisor development work put the open source vendor on a collision course with VMware and Microsoft

Red Hat has today released new operating system (OS) and virtualisation features in an attempt to land grab in the cloud computing space.

Building on the vision set out by Red Hat chief executive Jim Whitehurst, the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.4 at the open source vendor’s annual conference has introduced expanded virtualisation capabilities. The company also announced the delivery of the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 5.0 middleware for the cloud.

RHEL 5.4 includes the kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) hypervisor, that Red Hat products and technologies executive vice president Paul Cormier said would form the basis of the company’s 2009 roadmap.

“Many enterprises who went with VMware in the early days [of virtualisation] are now starting to realise it’s just another part of the OS,” he told delegates, suggesting its development so far has only served to create new opportunities for vendor lock-in on the part of VMware and Microsoft, where much of their cloud capabilities have yet to be built.

The announcement has some similarities to Citrix’ announcement of an open source virtualisation move based on Xen.


“With RHEL 5.4, because the hypervisor is built into the OS, you only need certify systems once and you’re good all the way out to the cloud. We can do this because all our products share the same code base. And the only vendors that can do this are us and Microsoft. I’m hearing that our booth at VMworld is packed because of this.”

By playing on the tight integration between its OS and hypervisor, Red Hat said it was stealing the advantage from VMware and Microsoft in the development land grab within cloud computing, where 80 per cent of all clouds already use open source software.

“You have to have the ability to run your infrastructure in someone else’s cloud,” said Cormier. “This means you have to have the ability to move applications easily, as well as support multiple frameworks and languages.”

RHEL 5.4 also includes Intel’s directed I/O virtualisation technology (Intel VT-d) and PCI-SIG SR-IOV to allow multiple virtual machines to directly share I/O devices in an Intel Xeon processor 5500 series-based platform, which Red Hat said would help enterprises, including cloud providers, deploy virtualisation technologies more pervasively.

Cormier also pointed to the standalone release of its KVM hypervisor, as well as desktop and server virtualisation management products later in 2009.

While Whitehurst added: “We have developed an architecture of participation. We don’t force you to take our products or tools, and will work with whatever vendors, languages, frameworks and hardware you need us to work with.”