Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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Red Hat Targets Apps With Project Atomic And RHEL 7 

"The app is king," declared Red Hat's president of products and technologies at the company's annual summit today. Indeed, the focus on applications and how they are ported among virtual and real platforms is driving much of the development around Red Hat's flagship Enterprise Linux operating system.

Linux, especially Red Hat's version, has become central to the datacenter, argued Paul Cormier. "What is really driving [Linux] is the convergence of the physical, virtual, private, and public cloud."

This, Cormier added, is creating a single environment for applications in the datacenter. "The app is king, you gotta remember that. This is all about the application and it's always been about the application. It's all about running that application with consistency across the datacenter. And that's where the operating system comes in."

Not surprisingly, Cormier insisted that Red Hat Enterprise Linux led the way for open source software into the datacenter. One result was that applications became "decoupled" from proprietary hardware.

Once virtualization began solve real problems in the enterprise, innovation took off, something Cormier described as "one of the big, hockey-stick moments" for the open-source community, a reference to innovation climbing the y-axis on a chart.

"Virtualization was and continues to be developed as an integrated part of the Linux operating system instead of a separate layer" as in proprietary systems. "This is the really the power of the open source model."

Last June, Red Hat targeted the hybrid cloud with its RHEL OpenStack Platform. During the summit, Red Hat also announced several enterprise deployments of its RHEL OpenStack Platform, including rollouts at a biomedical research institute operated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University and a computing network at the Australian National University. 

The company cites these deployments as evidence that OpenStack in making inroads throughout the public and private cloud.

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The next challenge is providing portability for applications across physical, virtual, private and public clouds, Cormier argued. So-called container technology allows applications to effectively be split from the operating system underlying host. Containers have been used in this way for several years, but Cormier maintained that Linux-based development has accelerated their use to port applications among platforms. LXC containers and Docker application packaging, which EnterpriseTech talked about in a RHEL 7 preview last week, are key components of a lighter virtualization stack for Linux workloads.

"This is one of the things that is really going to drive the future" of cloud computing, Cormier asserted.

In response, Red Hat also announced during the summit an initiative called "Project Atomic" designed to develop these lightweight Linux container hosts. The tools developed under the initiative will result in a RHEL variant called Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host. The company said it would debut with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, which got its first release candidate (RC) edition today for partners and on April 21 for the public at large.

Cormier said the goal is to leverage container technology to streamline application delivery across physical and virtual machines along with public and private clouds. "We’re bringing this out as a platform to run containers all the way across. This is going to be one of the main technology advancements" of RHEL 7, he added.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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