RHEL 6 Marks Cloud as New Enterprise IT Turf

It's official: the cloud is now the place to be for enterprise Linux.

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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 has been released, according to a the big whoopity-doo press conference and attendant press releases that hit the wires this afternoon.

If I seem less than enthused, perhaps it's because this release has just been a looong time coming (RHEL 5 was rolled out in 2007) and the amount of hype from today's announcement is rather high.

Still, it's Red Hat, and like them or not, they do tend to set the bar for enterprise-level Linux distros. Hey, they even say so themselves.

There's a lot to be said about what's new in the RHEL 6 release, but right off the bat it seems that cloud, which used to be touted as a separate feature for any given Linux distro, is baked right in to the RHEL 6 architecture. From the release:

"Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 includes hundreds of technical feature enhancements and additions that offer customers a significant technology leap over marketplace alternatives. It offers:

  • "A highly optimized application platform for large-scale, centrally managed enterprise deployments.
  • "Enhanced efficiency with the latest generation of highly scalable hardware systems.
  • "Industry-leading virtualization performance, flexibility and security for both host and guest environments.
  • "Extensive support for features designed to minimize ecological impact and carbon footprint of IT systems.
  • "A platform suitable for long-term, stable deployment while able to incorporate new technologies for physical, virtual and cloud deployments."

In other words, no matter where you use the operating system--datacenter, cloud, physical, or virtual--RHEL 6 should deliver the same performance. Hype aside, that's a pretty important piece of news. The platform that can deliver the most seamless cloud experience is the platform that will work best in the enterprise.

This is not a surprise for anyone watching the ongoing progress of RHEL development over the past year or so. In March, IBM announced it would be shifting to Red Hat technology for its cloud-based services, despite having worked with VMware on virtualization. At the time, this was a big win for Red Hat, and there have been others since.

Cloud is a significant bet for Red Hat moving forward, and if RHEL 6 can deliver the goods promised in today's barrage of news, then Red Hat would have a big advantage over the other cloud contenders, like Novell and VMware. Is it any wonder then, that VMware is supposed to be eying Novell? Seamless OS/virtual integration for the cloud is not kid stuff, and both of these companies will need what the other has to keep up with where RHEL 6 is now.

As for the other player in the market, Ubuntu Server, it will be interesting to see how their work with Amazon and Eucalyptus will fare in this space.

The cloud, not the server room, is the new battleground for enterprise IT. Que the thunder and lightning.

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