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Why run Linux on AWS?

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For organizations using Amazon Web Services® (AWS), an open-source enterprise Linux® distribution makes it easier to accommodate different infrastructure types, so development and operations teams can innovate together in any environment. 

Running Linux and AWS together gives your organization the freedom and flexibility to move to cloud environments and simplify hybrid cloud management. It also provides the tools to build, deploy, and deliver applications in less time and at scale.

Before looking at what makes Linux and AWS such a strong combination, it‘s important to understand each of these technologies and their benefits.

Linux and the open source community played a major part in the creation of cloud computing and its proliferation. Since then, Linux has remained the operating system of choice for cloud computing and cloud services

Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® is the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform, certified on hundreds of clouds and with thousands of hardware and software vendors. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a stable choice for high performance computing and hybrid cloud use cases, providing long term support and technical user guides and offering compatibility with a number of industry partners, including AWS and Microsoft Azure®

AWS was the first global cloud provider and remains the largest in the market1. AWS provides organizations with on-demand, security-focused, virtual access to the computing capacity needed to scale workloads and applications through its own globally distributed network of data centers, providing the agility needed to respond to today’s market challenges.

While AWS has vast experience in providing cloud computing via their cloud marketplace, they also provide a Linux operating system, the latest version being Amazon Linux 2023 (AL2023). In some cases, it can be included at no charge for a period of time via the AWS Free Tier for those that choose it to run their applications in the AWS cloud. 

AL2023 works with various AWS services and offers optimized performance for Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Graviton-based instances.


1 Statista, "Worldwide infrastructure as. a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) hyperscaler market share from 2020 to 2022, by vendor," Jan 2022.

Organizations using enterprise Linux on AWS get the same benefits as using it on-premise and can more easily integrate cloud and on-premise systems. An enterprise Linux distribution provides AWS users with:

  • Flexibility.
  • Open source innovation.
  • Consistency across infrastructure, which can help reduce the complexity of a move to the cloud.
  • Container portability.
  • Massive scalability.
  • Continuous security.

By standardizing on enterprise Linux, organizations migrating workloads to AWS can take advantage of existing processes, business practices, knowledge, and skills that can be shared between on-premise and cloud footprints. Standardization on enterprise Linux improves time-to-market, reduces complexity, provides on-demand scalability, and lowers costs, among other benefits.

To fully realize the benefits of AWS in a modern IT environment, choosing the right Linux distribution is crucial. Different distributions offer different benefits, including a variety of subscription models, operational costs, support models, and integrations with existing infrastructure or third-party technologies.

Enterprise organizations aiming to scale efficiently and innovate to keep up with competitors, customer demand, and rapid market changes have a lot to consider when moving to the cloud. They must balance flexibility and scalability with issues of security, manageability, and reliability. This is where the choice of Linux distribution can make a huge difference.

Red Hat brings more than 25 years of Linux expertise and a broad portfolio of tools, solutions, and partners that integrate and work seamlessly with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Combining Red Hat Enterprise Linux and AWS brings together the best of both offerings. Organizations get an intelligent, stable, and security-focused OS foundation for modern, agile business operations. They also gain globally available, on-demand, security-focused, resizable cloud computing capacity for their workloads and applications.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux is certified on AWS, giving users consistency across their infrastructure. Whether using Red Hat Enterprise Linux on AWS or on-premise, enterprises can manage all of their applications and workloads with a single tool. 

With its roots in open source, Red Hat is a leading contributor to Kubernetes, the open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the foundation of its Kubernetes strategy–providing application mobility, proven enterprise security, and support at an enterprise scale.

Containers are Linux technologies, and Red Hat offers its solutions on AWS and other cloud providers to ensure enterprises have comprehensive integrations, support, and a consistent experience regardless of the workloads or applications you are running. A Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription includes open source container tools Podman, Buildah, and Skopeo, allowing developers to easily spin up containers, manage deployment, and speed development of new applications in the cloud. Red Hat Universal Base Image (UBI) provides developers pre-built images to consume a number of language runtimes. In many instances, developers can just consume an image and start working on the application they are building.

Simplified management. Choosing Red Hat Enterprise Linux helps enterprises minimize the complexity and management challenges associated with moving applications to the cloud. It does this through its openness and consistency, by simplifying the operating system, and through vast integrations across third-party hardware, software, and tools providers. 

Advanced tools from Red Hat and AWS automate and configure application management for everything from provisioning, scaling, policy enforcement, and decommissioning. Red Hat Enterprise Linux web console saves time and simplifies daily administration of your systems with an easy-to-use user interface accessible even to new Linux users, and automated system roles make it easy to optimize security groups and workflows and maintain them over time with minimal resources. Red Hat Package Manager (RPM) to help users install, update, remove, and keep track of software packages and permissions from specific repositories in the Linux system.

Security features. Red Hat Enterprise Linux and AWS verify consistency through a two process approach to continuous security. First, the operating system must pass a validation process to be listed on AWS Marketplace. Second, artificial intelligence tools–AWS Inspector and Red Hat Insights (included in Red Hat Enterprise Linux)–constantly monitor the enterprise environment. Red Hat also provides linux kernel live patching to respond to vulnerabilities without disrupting your Linux instances  and applies security updates to Red Hat Enterprise Linux as soon as they are available. These updates are designed to ensure reliability, protect user data, and fix security vulnerabilities as they are discovered.

Payment options. Red Hat works closely with AWS to provide convenient purchasing and pricing options. Organizations can use their committed spend with AWS toward the purchase of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This allows them to take advantage of the discounts outlined in their committed spend agreement with AWS (known as Enterprise Discount Program) when making the purchase on the AWS Marketplace. 

Alternatively, Red Hat can work with enterprises to develop a custom payment plan tailored to their needs, or for some organizations, the available pay-as-you-go cloud option would be ideal.

Flexibility. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is designed to have consistent performance and security across different footprints, whether in the cloud, on-premise, or at the edge. Today’s modern IT environments are hybrid, with workloads deployed in whatever location necessary for performance, scale, and compliance. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is engineered to perform optimally on AWS, but it is also part of a much larger partner ecosystem. SAP environments are certified to run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, one of only two Linux distributions that bears that certification. This extensive ecosystem also provides freedom from vendor lock-in.

Red Hat solutions on AWS are jointly engineered to ensure they are optimized for performance. Meanwhile, Red Hat Enterprise Linux has been designed to provide AWS users with the same level of security, scalability, manageability, and reliability Red Hat users have come to expect from their more traditional on-premise deployments.

Keep reading


What is Linux?

Linux is an open source operating system that is made up of the kernel, the base component of the OS, and the tools, apps, and services bundled along with it.


What is SELinux?

Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) is a security architecture for Linux® systems that allows administrators to have more control over who can access the system.


What is the Linux kernel?

The Linux kernel is the main component of a Linux operating system (OS) and is the core interface between a computer’s hardware and its processes.

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A stable, proven foundation that’s versatile enough for rolling out new applications, virtualizing environments, and creating a more secure hybrid cloud.