Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, October 3, 2023

New RHEL 7 Linux Stresses Apps, Scaling 

Red Hat has unveiled the latest version of its open-source operating system, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, promoting it as the foundation of an "open hybrid cloud" that delivers emerging new capabilities like application containers.

The latest version is the first major update of RHEL since mid-2010. Red Hat claims that more than 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have deployed RHEL over the last decade and that the OS now supports about 13,000 certified applications.

"The application is king," reiterated Paul Cormier, Red Hat's president for products and technologies, during the Version 7 introduction. RHEL 7 "is more application-friendly," making it easier to deploy apps on the cloud, he claimed.

Red Hat said RHEL 7 could speed the delivery of new enterprise applications via Linux containers across physical, virtual and cloud deployments. The new capability supports Docker software container and application packaging technology.

Red Hat claimed the emphasis on "lightweight, simplified application delivery and isolation," would help improve datacenter scaling as the move to hybrid clouds gains momentum.

Red Hat introduced its Atomic Host in April that is "tuned" to run in container environments. The company said it would be announcing general availability of Atomic Host "shortly."

Atomic Host "is the glue between Docker technologies," said Jim Totten, vice president of Red Hat's Platform Business Unit.

Red Hat also said it would build out a container certification program over the next several months to ensure "trust in both platforms and container contents." Certification would cover the Docker format, the operating environment for the container as well as the container's interaction with the host operating system.

Red Hat started beta testing of RHEL 7 in December 2013. A key issue for testers was stability given the challenges of datacenter virtualization and cloud deployment.

Beta testing included more than 60 "high-touch beta customers" and along with about 10,000 downloads by other beta testers.

The company said it expects about 60 percent of customers to deploy RHEL 7 within six months. Deployment could be speeded by automated migration from version 6 to 7. Totten added that Red Hat's subscription model would help eliminate financial barriers to adoption of the latest Linux operating system.

A key Red Hat customer, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, is expected continue testing RHEL 7 through 2014 and begin deploying it early next year. "We'll keep Red Hat on their toes," an exchange official guaranteed in a testimonial video.

Analysts stressed RHEL 7's new scaling and virtualization capabilities. Forrester analyst Richard Fichera noted that the Linux kernel now scales to 4,096 X86 CPUs and up to 16 TB of memory, meaning it would support the largest X86 servers available. (No X86 machine has that many cores, but 16 TB and more is possible on a number of machines from SGI and Hewlett-Packard.)

Fichera also noted that RHEL 7's Linux containers supporting Docker-compliant images have "very low overhead" while generating OS images from a single root OS image. That, Fichera added, is "both a great strength and a great weakness, depending on use case."

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).