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IT teams are expected to deliver more services at a faster pace than ever before to support modern business needs. Even so, 86% of organizations deploy applications in multiple IT environments and 62% use 3 or more environments.1 This complexity can lead to interoperability and availability issues, complicated management and higher security and compliance risks.

Standardizing your IT environment can help you boost flexibility, efficiency and reliability to meet increasing demands. A standardized operating environment (SOE) can help simplify your IT infrastructure to streamline management and control while still providing the flexibility to customize systems for a wide variety of users and purposes.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) brings together stability, control and flexibility, making it an ideal foundation for your SOE. Because RHEL runs with greater consistency across physical, virtualized, cloud and edge infrastructure, you can maintain a single, standard foundation for your entire organization without limiting user options.

With RHEL 8.9, we’ve added more features and capabilities to help you create an operating foundation that supports your organization’s goals. All of these features are also available in RHEL 9.3, so you can upgrade on your schedule with less disruption.

More rapidly deploy and manage images across footprints

Most organizations have multiple deployment environments, and operating system image management is critical for security-focused operations with greater reliability. The RHEL image builder tool—available as a hosted service or on-premises—lets you create optimized operating system images based on a standard foundation for deployment across infrastructure footprints. The on-premises version of the tool now includes support for AWS hybrid-boot configurations—including UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) and legacy BIOS (basic input/output system) boot modes—that let you take advantage of features like UEFI Secure Boot. You can also package VMware images into the open virtual appliance (OVA) format and import them into your VMware vSphere Template Library for faster virtual machine (VM) provisioning.

Simplify migrations from other Linux distributions

Running multiple operating systems increases management complexity, but operating system migrations are often complicated in their own right. The Convert2RHEL tool simplifies migrations from other RPM-based Linux distributions to RHEL. It converts your systems in place—both in on-site datacenters and in cloud environments—while preserving your existing operating system customizations, configurations and preferences. This minimizes operational disruptions, as there’s no need to tear down or redeploy your application stack. Convert2RHEL is supported for migrations from several other Linux distributions—read this article to learn more.

Streamline configuration management

Maintaining uniform operating system configurations across your environment can be challenging. Automation is key to improving consistency across deployments. RHEL 8.9 includes new system roles and enhancements to existing roles to help you manage configuration complexity more easily. New roles include:

  • Keylime_server: Automate configuration and maintain consistent deployment of Keylime servers, including the Keylime registrar and Keylime verifier settings.
  • Systemd: Automate common systemd tasks—like starting, stopping, enabling and disabling units and deploying custom units—at scale to reduce repetitive tasks and avoid potential issues.
  • PostgreSQL: Automate the installation and configuration of PostgreSQL— a frequently used database included with RHEL—to save time and improve consistency.

Enhanced roles include:

  • Podman: Automate the configuration of Podman networks, health checks and secrets and use Quadlet container definitions to simplify container definition and deployment across RHEL instances.
  • Kdump: New options give you greater flexibility when setting basic kernel dump parameters across RHEL resources.
  • Storage: Improve storage management at scale by expanding file systems without unmounting them, setting ownership and permissions on filesystem mount points and setting stripe size for RAID LVM volumes.
  • Microsoft SQL: Improve Microsoft SQL Server database performance by specifying custom data and log directories.

The RHEL web console also includes new features for enhanced system manageability. For example, consolidated, color-coded views of hourly performance and disk I/O usage let you analyze system performance and troubleshoot issues more quickly. You can also specify actions—including restarting, stopping or force-stopping unhealthy containers—in response to Podman health checks. Finally, new VM management capabilities let you check for VMs that require a restart due to configuration changes.

Tailor system performance

Optimizing resource performance across multiple, large-scale environments can present a challenge for the most experienced IT professionals. Continuously monitoring systems, analyzing extensive datasets and making the right optimizations demands significant time and effort.

Included with RHEL 8.9, Performance Co-Pilot is a set of tools, services and libraries for monitoring, visualizing, storing and analyzing system-level performance measurements. New metrics in version 6.0.5 monitor the performance of even more hardware resources—including interrupts, non-volatile storage and external memory—and help you more quickly detect potential issues with your infrastructure. You can also send webhook actions directly to Event-Driven Ansible to automatically initiate specific processes whenever the system state matches a defined Performance Metrics Inference Engine (PMIE) rule. With Grafana 9.2.10, it’s easier than ever to analyze streaming performance data across your RHEL infrastructure.

Access new Application Streams

Massive hybrid cloud environments have to support multiple user communities, each with its own requirements for core technologies like compilers, runtimes, databases and web servers. For example, development organizations want the latest updates and features to help them build innovative applications. At the same time, IT operations teams require stable, tested and robust tool versions to improve reliability when deploying applications into production environments.

Application Streams lets you independently update tools and technologies, separate from the core operating system. It provides the flexibility to select the specific technology versions that align with your needs and priorities, streamlining tool and application management and making it easier to meet the requirements of every user community.

New Application Streams in RHEL 8.9 include:

  • Node.js 20: Improvements to fundamental parts of the JavaScript runtime environment along with a new version of the V8 engine bring improved performance and new language features to this popular, cross-platform, open source server environment.
  • Java-21: New features in OpenJDK—an open source implementation of the Java Platform, Standard Edition—include lightweight virtual threads, a minimal web server, sequenced collections and a service-provider interface (SPI) for host name and address resolution to help you rapidly build applications.
  • Compiler toolkits: New versions include GCC 13, LLVM 16.06, Rust 1.71.1 and Go 1.20.46:
    • GCC toolset 13 features new and improved optimizations and better language support for C++23, C++20 and C23 to increase workload performance.
    • LLVM toolset 16.0.6 contains new default errors for implicit function declarations, incompatible function pointer types and implicit integer return values to help developers write more secure code.
    • Rust toolset 1.71.1 includes new implementations and protocols to improve performance and efficiency while increasing the safety of some cross-language operations.
    • Go toolset 1.20.6 incorporates improved data handling and new packages to enhance application performance.

Learn more

Learn more about the latest features in RHEL 8.9.

Additional resources


1  F5 Networks. “2023 State of Application Strategy Report,” March 2023.

About the author

Gil Cattelain is Principal Product Marketing Manager for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Cattelain has more than 20 years’ experience as a leader in high-tech software product marketing with a proven track record of managing major product releases and go-to-market strategies. Prior to Red Hat, Cattelain held product marketing leadership roles at Micro Focus, Novell, and Genesys, focusing on the endpoint management and DevOps/agile solutions, including digital marketing for the contact center market.

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