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Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is widely deployed on-premise to run a variety of applications, but more conservative customers may need guidance in taking their first steps toward the cloud. One of the features in RHEL 8.3 is Image Builder’s Push to Cloud capability, which can help simplify and accelerate the transformation of workloads to the cloud. Building custom images is just one way to deploy RHEL for your enterprise. 

Flexibility for your enterprise: 3 ways to consume RHEL

Perhaps the simplest way to get started is with Red Hat’s Pay as You Go (PAYG) model using on-demand images. This route may work well for enterprises that want to try out RHEL in the public cloud or that need flexibility of adding or destroying virtual machines (VMs) in relatively short periods of time. 

With PAYG, enterprises can go to their public cloud provider and select a preferred RHEL image when creating a new VM. These images are pre-built by Red Hat’s cloud partners and certified with Red Hat—this means they’re backed by Red Hat Update Infrastructure (for security, usability, etc.). 

Another option is to deploy RHEL using Red Hat Cloud Access. When you need more flexibility with your resources and need “always-on” machines, (e.g., web services, databases, AI/ML), this may be your most suitable option. While using Cloud Access, on-demand images can also be used for bursts of high demand. 

Cloud Access allows customers to run eligible Red Hat product subscriptions in the public cloud with Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Providers (CCSPs). It helps customers combine and optimize bare metal machines, private cloud VMs or public cloud VMs. This option provides subscription portability between on-premise, datacenter, and certified public clouds.

When there are company standards or processes requiring a particular setup (e.g., identity management, access keys, backups), a third option for RHEL deployment to consider is generating and uploading a custom RHEL image using Image Builder. In this case, enterprises can bring their own cloud subscription. Using the new Push to Cloud capability in RHEL 8.3, administrators or developers can automatically upload completed images to their selected cloud provider directly from Image Builder. Amazon Web Services or Azure are supported currently. 

How RHEL addresses perceived open source barriers

RHEL is downstream of Fedora, which pulls from many other upstream open source projects. Enterprises may feel some hesitation when considering open source software because a wide net of contributors could conjure up concerns on security or lack of dedicated support. 

Some top barriers to using enterprise open source solutions reported in Red Hat’s 2020 State of Enterprise Open Source survey include security of the code, level of support, compatibility, and lack of internal skills to manage and support. Organizations count on vendors like Red Hat to turn upstream projects into vetted products that come with expert support. 

RHEL offers a stable, supported application binary interface (ABI), and a RHEL subscription can provide support for common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs). Architects have a stable kernel ABI that they can update whenever they’re ready. Operations may appreciate the easy-to-learn management interfaces that eliminate retooling headaches on upgrades. They can manage their systems using the RHEL Web Console, limiting the need to learn the command line right away. And developers count on stable APIs and ABIs that reduce certification and testing cycles.

Additionally, Red Hat Insights, included with RHEL subscriptions, helps teams proactively identify security threats to avoid issues, outages, and unplanned downtime. In the RHEL 8.3 web console, administrators will see an updated view for overall system health status at a glance. However, Insights is more than just security (even though this may be the most pressing issue). Insights has more than 1,000 rules affecting stability, performance, availability, and security.

Setting up for more autonomous deployments

RHEL can be the starting point for future, more autonomous, deployments on Red Hat OpenShift. 

What if the same application you develop on RHEL can run on an even higher level of abstraction with kubernetes? Red Hat’s Universal Base Image (UBI) can help make applications running on RHEL even more universal. UBI is available for free for container developers. Think of it as a redistributable version of RHEL—one that follows the same release and patch schedule and that is tested by the same performance, security and quality teams as RHEL. 

Container images built with UBI can run on any kubernetes system, but when run on Red Hat OpenShift, with Red Hat’s Core OS, provides full compatibility and supportability. The generic nature of RHEL applications—whether developed on RHEL as a traditional application or using UBI as a containerized application—can be deployed anywhere and comes with full support and compatibility guarantees of RHEL. 

Hear more about RHEL from Summit sessions

RHEL provides a stable, manageable platform for applications for architects, operations, developers. Though some organizations may be hesitant to deploy an open source OS, RHEL is a supported solution, and there are ways to give it a try. For more information, and for a quick Image Builder demo, check out the Red Hat Summit Virtual Experience “Moving your applications to the cloud with Red Hat Enterprise Linux” breakout session, led by Red Hatters Karen Noel and Amnon Ilan (Director, Software Engineering and Senior Manager, Software Engineering, respectively). Summit keynotes and breakout sessions are available until April 2021; you can still register today to view this content on-demand.


About the author

As the Managing Editor of the Red Hat Blog, Thanh Wong works with technical subject matter experts to develop and edit content for publication. She is fascinated with learning about new technologies and processes, and she's vested in sharing how they can help solve problems for enterprise environments. Outside of Red Hat, Wong hears a lot about the command line from her system administrator husband. Together, they're raising a young daughter and live in Maryland.

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