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Reflections on Red Hat Enterprise MRG Realtime Announcement

The recent public announcement of the broader MRG product suite marks a significant milestone for Red Hat’s realtime development team. This announcement formalized Red Hat’s product commitment to realtime - a significant step toward the upcoming product availability. This is extremely gratifying for the development team - to see the fruits of several years of effort come that much closer to imminently being deployed by demanding customers.

It has been a long road in getting the bulk of the realtime feature set successfully incorporated upstream. This wasn’t easy due to the strict upstream kernel acceptance criteria. A tough crowd to please, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. The high bar for design and code review, while it can appreciably lengthen the process, ultimately yields a superior implementation. It took a lot of patience and community-development skills to pull off the leadership of the realtime initiative. We’d rather have things done right than hastily.



Lest we suggest that upstream Linux kernel realtime development is a Red Hat-only show, that is not the case. In fact, all throughout our development of realtime capabilities we have been doing this entirely in the open and inclusive manner. This has allowed other companies to also make substantial contributions. We’d like to specifically call out the excellent participation of IBM and Intel in these efforts. A vibrant community is crucial for realtime’s current success. It’s really cool to see an increasing number of companies starting to get involved in the upstream realtime initiative that Red Hat continues to lead. A rising tide “floats all boats.” The more the merrier.

Prior to the recent launch of the MRG product beta, we had earlier alpha versions of what became MRG Realtime out for alpha test. There was a diversity of high-profile customer participants to date. The early alpha was extremely constructive as it gave us exposure to uniquely challenging custom-application workloads. Through close analysis of customer workloads, we have substantially improved the performance and correctness of the realtime implementation. This gives us a lot of confidence going into the formal product beta.

The composite product offering in MRG (Messaging, Realtime, Grid) has been a real plus for the realtime initiative. The industry-leading performance results of the messaging component heavily rely on Red Hat’s realtime kernel for consistent, low-latency response time. This has been an extremely demanding test workload. This close integration of the messaging and realtime teams has been a win-win. Not only is this beneficial from a development and test perspective, but also from a customer perspective. The same customers who had the strongest need for realtime performance also had requirements for high-speed messaging middleware. This combination is a compelling “solution stack,” rather than being just a realtime kernel offering.

We’re looking forward to working closer with customers through the upcoming beta. From a codebase perspective, the realtime focus through the duration of the beta is entirely on hardening and productization. We’ll be focusing on bug fixing, performance enhancements per customer workloads and hardware enablement. You know, the sort of work that differentiates a “project” vs. a “product.” Similar to what we do to turn upstream bits into a Red Hat Enterprise Linux release.

In parallel to the productization, Red Hat continues to lead the ongoing upstream realtime kernel development. This is an ongoing evolution that we continue to work cooperatively with other companies and individuals. Realtime will never be complete. Rather, there’s always room for improvements. For example, branching out into a broader diversity of kernel subsystems and striving to make ongoing improvements. We intend to continue to apply the same level, and more, of Red Hat expertise, which was instrumental in progressing the state of the art in mainstream kernel realtime capabilities. Consider the first release of MRG Realtime as the beginning of true enterprise realtime Linux products. We look forward to the exciting road ahead that we share with our most demanding customers.