Red Hat Targets Enterprise with Advanced Server

Clustering in this flavor

Targeting mission-critical applications, Red Hat Linux, Inc. announced its Red Hat Advanced Server distribution. The product targets areas of the enterprise that have long been dominated by Unix.

Red Hat announced on Tuesday that its Red Hat Linux Advanced Server, which supports up to eight Intel processors, will begin shipping in April. Other enhancements of the upgraded operating system, which starts at $800, include asynchronous I/O, an improved process scheduler and a Java-based Web console for cluster node management.

Advanced Server’s clustering support distinguishes it from Red Hat’s other Linux offerings. Administrators can configure multiple nodes in either load-balancing or failover clustering. Although Linux is frequently deployed in super-computing clusters, the lack of deployments in availability clusters has been considered a knock on Linux as an enterprise-worthy platform.

Red Hat also sells services and support around the new operating system. The cost of Red Hat CDs generally includes an installation and short-term service contract.

Partners at the New York City launch included Intel, Oracle and Veritas. Dell announced Tuesday that it will sell systems running Red Hat Advanced Server.

Industry analysts maintain that most Linux-based server market share growth comes at the expense of Unix systems, not Windows servers. Red Hat focused on cost savings over RISC/Unix systems in its public statements.

Following the event in New York, Caldera International, Inc., which sells both a Linux distribution and the SCO Unix flavor issued a statement questioning Red Hat’s enterprise strategy. The statement asserted Unix was better suited to back-end and mission critical applications, while Linux is ideal for applications such as Web serving. It also asserted Red Hat would do better to pursue Windows customers, rather than Unix users.

Linux advocates often cite Linux’ common code base as an advantage over proprietary Unices. Users can generally use the same shells, compilers, and libraries, regardless of the distribution, offering portability and ease-of-use across the enterprise. (Although this is not entirely true, projects such as the Linux Standards Base and Open Source Development Lab are aggressively pursuing standard implementation.)

Red Hat ensures that each of its distributions uses a common code base with differences only between packages specific to a particular implementation. It is playing up the common code base in its enterprise marketing.

For their part, Unix flavors from Caldera and IBM Corp. such as AIX 5L offer binary compatibility with Linux, allowing the same skill set to apply on both Linux and Unix systems.

"The global enterprise IT market is looking for choice and hard-dollar savings. The low-cost/high value proposition of Red Hat Linux Advanced Server on Intel architecture delivers IT buyers the choice to receive performance without the lock-in and inflated costs of proprietary operating systems," Paul Cormier, executive vice president of engineering at Red Hat, said in a statement.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.