Red Hat Makes Virtualization Play With RHEL 7 Beta

Red Hat on Wednesday launched Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 into beta.

RHEL 7 incorporates several changes, including a move from Oracle’s MySQL to the open source MariaDB, the adoption of the XFS file system, and improvements in various areas, including storage and file size.

“Together, the attributes of RHEL 7 certainly help sustain Red Hat’s position as a leading Linux supplier with a compelling value proposition,” Bill Weinberg, principal at Linux Pundit, told LinuxInsider.

Taken together with Red Hat’s October beta of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.3, the changes seem to indicate the company is ramping up its efforts to compete in the virtualization market, where up to now it has been a minor player.

What’s New in RHEL 7

RHEL 7 is designed to provide the underpinning for future application architectures while providing the flexibility, scalability and performance needed to deploy across bare metal, virtual machines and cloud infrastructure.

It is based on Fedora 19 and the upstream Linux 3.10 kernel.

RHEL 7 uses Linux Container technology such as Docker, which lets users partition only the necessary system resources and security isolation to each application container, thus offering a lightweight alternative to Linux’s KVM and providing increased scalability and agility within the IT infrastructure.

Data centers can migrate existing RHEL 6.5 systems to RHEL 7, as well as virtual machines from RHEL 6 hosts to RHEL 7 hosts, without downtime or the need to modify the virtual machines.

RHEL 7 has adopted the XFS file system as its default, scaled to support file systems of up to 500 TB. Red Hat also has increased the maximum standalone file system size for the ext4 file system from 16 TB to 50 TB, and it will offer the emerging btrfs file system as a technology preview.

Release 7 includes support for enterprise storage arrays; Red Hat has enhanced RHEL’s scalable storage stack, which is a lower-cost alternative to storage arrays. RHEL 7 includes a Linux management framework that interfaces to popular system management frameworks through OpenLMI.

Admins can use existing Microsoft Active Directory domains because SAMBA 4.1 is included in RHEL 7. They can deploy RHEL Linux Identity Management in a parallel trust zone with Active Directory so users can leverage existing deployments.

Aloha, MySQL

MariaDB is an open source fork of MySQL and has been made the default database for RHEL 7 because “we strongly believe in the community’s growth and commitment to innovation,” Mark Coggin, the company’s senior director of product marketing, told LinuxInsider. It is fully compatible with MySQL.

“MariaDB is getting a lot of recognition in the industry as a great alternative to MySQL,” noted Al Hilwa, a program director at IDC.

Red Hat will continue to support MySQL in more mature editions of RHEL, including RHEL 6.

The move to MariaDB “should provide clean continuity for MySQL users and applications, with the added benefit of MariaDB having an outward-facing and active developer community that is not beholden to a single commercial entity,” suggested Linux Pundit’s Weinberg. “Enterprise customers who absolutely insist on sticking with legacy MySQL can always look to Oracle and Oracle Linux for support.”

Virtualization and Red Hat

RHEL and RHEV “are complementary in a variety of ways,” although RHEL is a “strong general virtualization solution” and RHEV is aimed at advanced use cases for virtualization, Red Hat’s Coggin said. The company will “ensure [RHEL 7 and RHEV 3.3] are tested as a unit” for customers seeking to run RHEL 7 in an RHEV environment.

The inclusion of Docker may boost Red Hat’s push into virtualization because the technology “solves an important problem of standardizing the way containers work across systems,” IDC’s Hilwa told LinuxInsider. “That is a great move.”

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