An industry analyst says the real news is that Linux is catching up to proprietary RISC Unix systems

The latest version of Red Hat Inc.’s corporate Linux distribution offers improvements to allow IT managers to run hybrid cloud infrastructures from the operating system.

The company released Red Hat Enterprise Linux  7 this week, saying  it lays the foundation for open hybrid cloud so enterprises can run workloads across converged infrastructures.

Strategies including Bare metal servers, virtual machines, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) are converging to form a robust, powerful datacenter environment to meet constantly changing business needs, Red Hat said in a release. To bring all of them together it says RHEL 7 offers a “cohesive, unified foundation”  that enables IT departments to meet modern demands  as well as leverage Linux Containers and big data, across physical systems, virtual machines and the cloud.

“As the worlds of physical, virtual and cloud systems converge, Red Hat is delivering a true open hybrid cloud platform that gives both ISVs and applications a consistent runtime platform across bare metal systems, virtual machines, and public and private clouds,” Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s president of products and technologies said in a release. “This will be essential as applications move from on-premises to the cloud.”

New features include

–enhanced application development, delivery, portability and isolation through Linux Containers including Docker, across physical, virtual, and cloud deployments as well as development, test and production environments;

–file system improvements, including XFS as the default file system, which can scale to 500 TB;

–Cross-realm trust, to enable secure access for Microsoft Active Directory users across Microsoft Windows and Red Hat Enterprise Linux domains,. This allows RHEL to co-exist within heterogeneous datacenters;

–a kernel patching utility, kpatch (a technology preview) so the kernel can be patched without rebooting;

–the systemd system and service manager for overseeing processes, services and security;

–the Hardware Event Reporting Mechanism (HERM), that refactors the Error Detection and Correction (EDAC) mechanism of dual in-line memory module error reporting;

–the ability to manage Linux servers more easily with OpenLMI, an API that can be used from multiple languages as well as its own client;

– secure application runtimes and development, delivery and troubleshooting tools;

–and an improved installer and interface.

INSIDE image RHEL 7 installer page

In a lot of ways its not the new capabilities but that they are all in one operating system, Forrester Research analyst Richard Fischera said in an interview. “This is a packaging of features and functions that allows Red Hat)Linux to act as a substitute for most RISC-Unix workloads” in competition with Unix operating systems and platforms from HP, IBM and Oracle.

“The difference between this and proprietary Unix is shrinking. This is the next step along the road.”

HP, IBM and Oracle run their own versions of Unix on their own RISC-based processors, which are more powerful than x86 CPUs. But, Fischera noted, Intel recently released a Xeon E7 v2 processor which includes reliability improvements over previous processors. So not only is the Linux software catching up to RISC-Unix, so is x86 hardware.

Red Hat says RHEL 7 runs analytics applications 11 per cent faster than version 6, an open source database 13 per cent faster and server side Java 25 per cent faster

RHEL 7 runs on 64-bit Intel and AMD processors, and IBM’s Power7 and System z systems. It will not run on the IBM System z10 mainframe.

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