Ask The Expert: Red Hat Linux Advanced Server Questions Answered

Tim Burke
Enterprise Developer, Red Hat

Q:  What is Red Hat Linux Advanced Server and how is it different from other Red Hat products?

Red Hat Linux Advanced Server is Red Hat's Linux platform tuned specifically for the needs of enterprise customers. For example, a set of kernel enhancements are targeted at database performance and scalability. Advanced server is the launchpad for Red Hat's new Cluster Manager for high availability clustering. Also included is another complementary load balancing cluster technology called Piranha.

Previously, many customers found performance barriers when attempting to use multiple common enterprise applications such as databases, storage management, and ERP. The difficulties arose because the ISVs may have certified on different releases of Red Hat Linux. For the Advanced Server release, we have coordinated the certification efforts of major ISVs and IH's to alleviate integration problems.

Q:  Why should we care about Red Hat Linux Advanced Server?

Red Hat Advanced Server addresses demonstrated business problems. It provides a stable, high performance platform which is well suited for enterprise deployment. Key software and hardware partners are rallying around this release to alleviate customer integration issues. Through the introduction of features such as clustering which were previously prevalent only on proprietary offerings, Red Hat is demonstrating that it is serious about the enterprise.

Although Advanced Server marks a new initiative into the enterprise space, Red Hat is still strongly committed to its Linux community heritage. Red Hat will continue to offer its consumer-oriented releases at low cost. Additionally, the new features included with the Advanced Server release are open source.

Q:  Can you talk a little about clustering in depth? How it affects scalability and other functionality features?

Red Hat Cluster Manager for high availability clustering is an excellent match to the performance and scalability enhancements that increase database throughput. The combination of availability and scalability positions Advanced Server into enterprise deployments that were previously the exclusive domain of proprietary operating systems.

Q:  What is two-node failover? What is its role in Red Hat Linux Advanced Server?

Two-node failover allows a pair of computers to cooperatively ensure the application services are highly available. By having Cluster Manager running on a pair systems, they are able to regularly monitor each others' health. Should one system fail, the other system will take over the services previously running on the failed system. When both systems are operational they can both run cluster services. This is referred to as an active-active configuration, which allows the hardware investment to be fully leveraged, versus sitting dormant merely waiting for a takeover failure.

Q:  Nearly everyone recognizes that information security is more important than ever. How is the release of Red Hat Linux Advanced Server addressing the issue of secure transmission over the Internet?

Security is a main focus of this release, as high level of security is especially crucial in the enterprise. Using Red Hat Linux Advanced Server as the platform, a new Red Hat Stronghold Enterprise version will be released in late April. Stronghold Enterprise (version 4) is the next major addition to Red Hat's expanding portfolio of enterprise solutions. Based on the Apache secure Web server, Stronghold is optimized for use on Red Hat Linux Advanced Server.

Q:  How is Stronghold Enterprise optimized for Red Hat Linux Advanced Server?

Stronghold Enterprise incorporates key technologies that will make it more secure, perform better under demanding browser loads, and easier to install and configure for users running Red Hat Linux Advanced Server.

Q:  Who should use Red Hat Linux Advanced Server? Is there a profile of that company?

Advanced Server is designed for enterprise customers. These companies benefit from the scalability and performance enhancements as well as clustering features. Knowing key partners have performed integration testing to certify on Advanced Server alleviates integration concerns.

Q:  How can Red Hat Linux Advanced Server act in a multi-user environment? What are its possible uses?

Advanced Server will be deployed in the corporate datacenter. It's applicable for businesses ranging from small to large corporations. The combination of high availability and scalability can be leveraged in a number of scenarios. For example, database, heterogeneous file serving, mail, web and print serving. The Red Hat Network technology further solidifies the value of Advanced Server by automating the update process. All of these features combined help to make Advanced Server one of the lowest total cost of ownership, enterprise-ready alternatives on the market today.

Q:  What was your role in production of Red Hat Linux Advanced Server?

I was a lead developer in the new Cluster Manager features. Cluster manager is a high-availability infrastructure which is particularly well suited for database and heterogeneous file serving. This was a great project to work on, knowing that these capabilities will be directly beneficial to end customers, as well as being open sourced for community development.

Q:  What was it like working on this product? Were there any particular challenges or interesting events?

It was very gratifying to have worked on the Advanced Server release knowing that the results of our efforts would facilitate the adoption rate of Linux in the enterprise. Solving real-world problems in a cost-effective manner is a major driving force of the Linux movement.

The most challenging aspect of this release was to balance the more conservative needs of enterprise applications with the more fluid environment typical to open source projects. This required a cooperative team effort to closely monitor proposed changes.

Q:  Tell us what it's like to work at Red Hat:

Working at Red Hat has been the best of both worlds. It has allowed me to leverage my prior enterprise experience into an open source codebase. The whole Red Hat team has been great to work with in terms of integrating components and working out the dependencies. People here really do care about producing a quality product.