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Technology / AI and automation

Red Hat calls for Linux management focus

We think it’s time that the open source community looked at a ubiquitous management platform, Red Hat’s newly appointed chief technology officer and vice president of engineering, Brian Stevens, told Computer Business Review.

The explosion of Linux is continuing but there hasn’t been a leap forward in terms of managing Linux farms, compared to the leap forward at the operating system level, he added. We want to create a new effort around SLA management for Linux infrastructure that ends up getting enough involvement from the community of users.

While there are numerous Linux systems management technologies available on the market, Stevens said that Red Hat sees the need to take a different view of the management problem, staring with service level agreements and then the functionality to meet them via automated management.

It’s really coming at the problem from a different way – top down, not bottom up, he said. The management problem is a long-term focus for Red Hat, which is planning to create a definition of the new management platform during 2006 and 2007 before taking it to customers, and then the wider community.

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We’re going to try to get an understanding of the vision, validate with clients, and then create something external as a community, said Stevens. We’re looking at getting participation before we’ve even finished thinking about how we solve the problem.

While plans for the management platform are in the early stages, Red Hat believes that a new approach to management is required to handle the new virtualization and stateless Linux functionality that it will be introducing in Red Hat Enterprise Linux in 2006.

The company has confirmed that both technologies will be delivered in Red Hat Enterprise Linux in the second half of 2006 as it has outlined its focus for the next two years.

Stateless Linux is designed to enable network-based diskless deployment of the Linux operating system, for example to a lap top or blade server, while the Xen open source virtual machine monitor will also be included in RHEL 5.

Both technologies will increase the emphasis on management, as virtualization increases the number of logical machines to be managed, while stateless Linux puts the focus on centralized management and administration.

The inclusion of these technologies in RHEL is no secret – the company began discussing them in 2004 and early developments are visible in the Fedora community-led project – but Red Hat’s VP of global marketing, Tim Yeaton, said the company wanted to formally announce its direction to the industry to encourage more high-level understanding.

One of the advantages of the open source model has is great transparency, what we thought was important was announcing to the industry ‘this is what we’re going to do’. It’s a framework for how we see that unfolding and how we see ourselves evolving.

As well as virtualization and stateless Linux functionality, Red Hat also plans to focus on developer enablement over the next two years, bringing the benefits of the open source development model to customers.

Despite the tremendous power of the development model, there’s not been a place where corporate or community developers can get that information on best-practices and community development, said Yeaton.

Red Hat is aiming to change that via continued investment in open source tools such as Eclipse, SystemTAP, and Frysk, as well as new content, services, and training focused at commercial application developers.

Meanwhile, Stevens revealed that Red Hat has split its R&D team in two, with a new emerging technology team focusing on the new developments, while a new program is being introduced to bring the remaining product team closer to the company’s customers.

Stevens said Red Hat has taken about 30 people from the product line team and is doubling that number via new hires, to focus on new emerging developments and disruptive technologies, giving them the freedom to work on new projects that that not even see the light of day.

About 300 people remain in Red Hat’s product team, focusing on core enterprise developments that drive down costs, and a new project is being implemented to get them closer to the company’s customers, building on its customer advisory board.
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CBR Staff Writer

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