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The evolution of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and the answer to “Who will be the Red Hat of OpenStack?”

Editor’s note: In a four-part series, Red Hat’s Tim Burke will explore the evolution of Red Hat Enterprise Linux to the recently announced Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, and discuss why the combination of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and OpenStack can help make OpenStack consumable for enterprise deployments.



Throughout its history, Red Hat Enterprise Linux has been been transformative in the information technology infrastructure platform arena. It was founded on the principles of bringing stability and a longer lifecycle required by commercial IT organizations to the rapidly changing, community-developed Linux operating system. This unleashed a wave of commoditized computing as Red Hat Enterprise Linux displaced expensive proprietary UNIX offerings, delivering customers lower costs and freedom from vendor lock-in.



The next wave of Red Hat Enterprise Linux focused on being first in the industry to offer the highest levels of security built into the mainstream product rather than being an obscure offshoot. This focus on security – including collaboration with the U.S. government’s National Security Agency (NSA) on Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) – paved the way for security-conscious governments and businesses around the globe to adopt Red Hat Enterprise Linux.



The third wave of Red Hat Enterprise Linux’s major innovation was virtualization. Red Hat Enterprise Linux, combined with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization management, has achieved industry-leading benchmarks in virtualization performance and security, and enabled cost-effective workload consolidation and administration flexibility. Today, Red Hat Enterprise Linux provides a consistent deployment platform for both bare metal and virtualized guest workloads.



In each successive wave, while Red Hat led and was heavily involved in the feature development and ongoing advancement of Linux, the real fuel of Linux's success was the unprecedented levels of cooperative development and testing that spanned a wide, diverse range of hardware and software companies and individual contributors. As we have proven through continued innovation, Red Hat Enterprise Linux is never “done;” it is consistently evolving. In the face of all this advancement, the key tenets and distinguishing factors of Red Hat Enterprise Linux continue to be stability, security, and lifecycle maintenance. These features have enabled customers to deploy with confidence, and also opened the door to widespread adoption for mission-critical operation, including in the financial services sector, where today, 50 percent of the world’s trading volume is powered by Red Hat.



The next evolutionary step for Red Hat Enterprise Linux is integration with OpenStack to enable new cloud-based deployment models that demand extreme agility. In so many ways, OpenStack today is very similar to the early days of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Back in Red Hat Enterprise Linux’s early days, open source was not widely accepted in the datacenter. It tended to be raw, difficult to integrate, and rapidly changing from a development perspective. To those who were not intimately involved with the development, it was extremely difficult – almost impossible – to know which version, or subset of code was stable versus bleeding edge. With Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat not only advanced the technology, we made it enterprise-consumable.



Today, OpenStack is in its early phases and presents the next big wave of collaborative development. The growth rate of the OpenStack project is phenomenal; the initiative is well-organized and strongly poised for success. Development cycles are rapid with significant improvements added with each release. As with the early days of Linux, OpenStack is currently a challenge to deploy, though many large-scale deployments are already demonstrating great success. The promise of OpenStack is the ability to deploy systems in minutes, not days or weeks, and unprecedented levels of scale-out that are primarily made possible by automated deployment. These benefits are the reason the industry is so excited about OpenStack, and providing this level of operational efficiency in an enterprise-consumable manner is the goal of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform.



Red Hat recently produced a t-shirt that asks, “Who will be the Red Hat of OpenStack?”



Of course, we contend that – through the introduction of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform – Red Hat is the answer. In subsequent posts, I will detail why.



The OpenStack™ Word Mark and OpenStack Logo are either registered trademarks / service marks or trademarks / service marks of the OpenStack Foundation, in the United States and other countries and are used with the OpenStack Foundation's permission. We are not affiliated with, endorsed or sponsored by the OpenStack Foundation or the OpenStack community.