In terms of engaging its customer base, for example, Red Hat has worked with Wall Street's financial institutions to simplify data center operations by capturing a single operating system image, including hardware and software. The payoff: IT has only one image to update and manage, which can be deployed across the network, he said. Currently, Red Hat is testing this technology by burning an OS image onto a USB key and using it to boot up servers, desktops and laptops, he said.
"With this technology, you will be able to push updates to 1,000 systems and different types of hardware with a common image," Stevens said. "This is a very powerful tool for IT. A system could fail in a complete outage, and you wouldn't lose your configuration. You'd just reboot."The Ovirt foundation
Red Hat also announced several beta offerings yesterday that arose from its collaborative customer development efforts. The first is an embedded hypervisor inside the Linux kernel for hosting Linux, Windows and Solaris virtual machines. A beta version can be downloaded for free from Ovirt, a Red Hat-sponsored open source community development project.
Embedding a virtualization layer directly inside the Linux kernel speeds virtualization and renders it more powerful and ubiquitous, present everywhere from desktops to servers and mobile applications, Stevens said. With virtualization embedded in the kernel core, there will no longer be overlapping, wasted virtualization resources, he added.
The ongoing effort to put the hypervisor inside the Linux kernel is one of those rare opportunities to get involved in a total architectural overhaul, he said. Data center managers want secure virtualization, and Red Hat's mission is to meet that goal without hindering performance, he said. The goal will be met in stages, with the help of Ovirt, which began writing the first lines of code for the virtualization management project last fall, he said.
Second, Red Hat announced a beta version of a new virtualization management infrastructure that will enable enterprises to build their own on-demand computing clouds instead of renting space from Amazon or other third parties. This virtualization management stack also can be downloaded in beta version from Ovirt.org.
Red Hat also announced yesterday the availability of a third kernel enhancement that adds security for virtualized environments. This kernel modification can be downloaded from freeIPA.org, whose initials stand for three key aspects of security: identity, policy and audit.
Collectively, these Red Hat collaborative efforts to create a secure virtualization management structure signal a not-so-distant future of enterprise cloud computing, with IT in control of allocating in-house cloud computing resources as departments' requirements grow or contract, he said.
"Google, Amazon.com and leading Internet companies have put Red Hat in a great position to be able to build this management platform," Stevens said.
Other Red Hat projects with customers, many of them Wall Street financial institutions, include the Red Hat Enterprise MRG (which stands for messaging, real-time, grid) component of its Linux Automation roadmap. Red Hat is working with 30 customers, for example, on attaining real-time performance (currently defined as 10 milliseconds or less) through an AMQP-compliant messaging bus, that will enable users to take full advantage of cloud computing, with the ability to dispatch workloads remotely on a large scale, he said. The Advanced Messaging Queuing Protocol is an open middleware messaging specification initiated by JPMorgan Chase.
Collectively, these examples demonstrate that Linux is a robust and innovative platform because its unique open source business model has gradually evolved to embrace customers as an integral part of the development effort, Stevens said. The open source collaborative model has also made a huge impact on the products of other major proprietary companies such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc. and Novell Inc., he said.
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