In outlining its plans for the near term, open-source specialist Red Hat said it will focus on integrating virtualization technology and support for "stateless" Linux in forthcoming versions of its enterprise product.
Set for debut in late 2006, the next major release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux will feature server virtualization capability, based on the Xen virtualization engine, to tailor the core operating-system platform for virtualized environments.
The result, the company said, is that customers will be able to reduce costs and improve operational efficiency.
Red Hat's pricing model for server virtualization technology will enable customers to run an unlimited number of virtualized instances for a flat subscription rate.
With stateless Linux, the characteristics and data that make an individual machine unique are moved to the network. Through intelligent backup and update agents, the user's personal preferences and other information can be moved to any local machine.
The motivation for using stateless systems is that, much like the old client-server model or thin-client model, they can help reduce maintenance and deployment costs. If all user data is stored in a central location, it is, in theory, more easily accessible and is not reliant on a single desktop machine.
"It is clear that organizations are looking at ways to cut costs and make sure their investments offer immediate value," said IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky. "Virtualization helps them achieve those goals by aggregating the workloads handled by older machines on a bigger machine."
New Work Environment
The virtualization software and hardware markets are expanding at a rapid clip, Kusnetzky noted, because such technology lets businesses aggregate applications so they can coexist on the same server. Also, organizations need only one installation of any software application for the whole system.
With open-source Xen, customers can create virtual instances of an operating system that can be copied or transferred to a different computer. Kusnetsky compared Xen to VMware and Microsoft's Virtual Server software, both of which can create an environment in which work is abstracted from the hardware, providing increased system scalability and reliability.
Similarly, with stateless Linux built in to the kernel, the operating system can be run on several clients in a virtual environment rather than as separate installations on individual machines, Kusnetzky explained, adding that Novell's SuSE Linux has incorporated this capability in its latest enterprise product.
"This makes it much easier to move applications from one machine to another as the workload shifts," the analyst said.
Red Hat also said it will provide developers with open-source tools such as Eclipse, SystemTAP, and Frysk to foster the evolution of open-source technology for the enterprise.