Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 boasts cloud tie-ins

Latest version of Red Hat's flagship product includes major OpenStack and Docker support, and many more under-the-hood improvements

It's just about impossible to release a major piece of software these days without having the word "cloud" in the description somewhere. The release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 is no exception: There's scarcely a part of the OS that, in Red Hat's view, isn't somehow cloud-centric.

The company describes RHEL 6.5, now in general availability, as "designed for those who build and manage large, complex IT projects, especially enterprises that require an open hybrid cloud."

The biggest and most visible cloud tie-ins for RHEL 6.5 come through support for integration with two major cloud-oriented open source projects: OpenStack and Docker.

The presence of OpenStack shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's followed Red Hat in the past year. The company clearly has ambitions to become the pre-eminent OpenStack distributor, not just by offering a distribution of OpenStack but also by integrating it tightly into RHEL's management and automation frameworks.

Docker might not ring as many bells as OpenStack, but it ought to. It's an open source project that allows any application to be packaged and shipped in a container that can run in most any environment, from bare-metal installations to VMs to -- you guessed it -- OpenStack clusters (via OpenStack Nova). Both Red Hat and the folks behind Docker had previously announced support for Docker would be available in RHEL by the either the end of this year or the beginning of 2014, so it's heartening to see it arrive early.

Other major features in RHEL 6.5 include:

  • General virtualization enhancements. vCPUs can now be dynamically enabled for disabled for guests, and the KVM hypervisor now supports up to 4TB of memory and can directly integrate with GlusterFS volumes. RHEL also works that much better as a guest in other people's hypervisors (including Microsoft's Hyper-V).
  • Support for NVMe-based SSDs. NVM Express, or NVMe, provides a standard way for SSDs to attach directly to PCI Express without the legacy limitations of SATA or AHCI. RHEL 6.5 now works directly with NVMe devices, whether they're being used for read/write caching or as a full-blown substitute for conventional mechanical disks.
  • High-precision network time. Most of the obvious applications for this involve financial transactions, something Red Hat touts on its list of RHEL accomplishments. (Red Hat's JBoss Data Grid package is also being pushed to the same audience.)
  • OpenSCAP 2.1-certified security tools. The OpenSCAP standard was created to "provide a standardized approach to maintaining the security of enterprise systems," including things like automatic patch verification and detection of compromised systems. Suse also uses OpenSCAP, and Red Hat has used earlier iterations of the standard since RHEL 5.7.

Red Hat's talk of RHEL as a cloud solution has been pretty consistent since version 6's release in 2010, back when it was described as "the comprehensive foundation customers need for physical, virtualized, and cloud deployments." The next version of RHEL is likely to expand that foundation into the burgeoning world of ARM-based servers, which Red Hat has been eyeing closely as a new frontier.

This story, "Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 boasts cloud tie-ins," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.