Red Hat aims to erode Microsoft ecosystem with RHEL 6.0

Newest version is groomed to scale for sprawling, virtualization-intensive cloud-computing architectures

With any major enterprise technology event these days, there's a 95 percent chance of clouds being mentioned. Today's official unveiling of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 was no exception.

Indeed, Red Hat's top brass used to occasion to declare the cloud-readiness of its latest and greatest platform as they touted its scalability, flexibility, and openness. Red Hat Linux is not only "a great product to erode the Microsoft server ecosystem" and an option to high-value RISC/Unix architectures, announced the company's president of products and technologies Paul Cormier, but it will also "be the bellwether for building the private clouds of tomorrow."

Among the 1,800 improvements to RHEL are enhancements to draw higher performance from data center hardware, a result of the company's close work with the likes of Cisco, HP, IBM, and other major hardware vendors. The kernel, according to Jim Totton, vice president of Red Hat's platform business unit, is aware of the interconnected fabric of data centers and cloud environments, enabling the platform to optimize how workloads are scheduled across many CPUs and processor cores, in the most efficient way.

That, in turn, contributes to RHEL 6's superior scalability, according to Red Hat, as much as doubling network rates and improving multiuser filesystem workloads up to five-fold. The platform also brings enhancements to virtualization I/O, meaning more guests per host, while reducing I/O overheard significantly as compared to bare-metal performance.

Aimed at companies struggling to reduce data center operating expenses, Version 6.0 also has more power management capabilities, potentially increasing energy efficiency by 20 percent over Version 5.5. Red Hat engineers accomplished this feat by tweaking the algorithms of various utilities so as to power down components and systems when they aren't in use.

Further, the platform gives admins a new set of dials and knobs for creating policy profiles to suit particular architectures; for example, an admin could adjust how much memory, networking bandwidth, and other resources a given system consumes. Those profiles can be migrated from point to point, plus Red Hat offers some premade profiles designed to suit common data center architectures. The feature would enable an admin to set a policy as to which virtual guests have higher priority, for example.

Red Hat has also added Svirt, an SELinux-based security enhancement for virtualization, that can be used to restrict a virtualized guest's ability to access resources such as files, network ports and applications. This forms a two-layer check-and-balance system, according to Red Hat, whereby a malicious guest finding a way to exploit a vulnerability in the virtualization layer could be blocked from accessing resources of other virtualized guests -- or the host platform.

This article, "Red Hat aims to erode Microsoft ecosystem with RHEL 6.0," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.