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Red Hat users enveloped by cloud, virtualization

Cloud computing, virtualization and new features in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, which hits beta 2 next week, were the hot topics at Red Hat Summit 2010.

BOSTON--Open source users who attended the annual Red Hat Summit and JBoss World 2010 confab here Wednesday got an earful of cloud talk during the keynote and sessions along with news of a new cloud management offering.

Virtualization was also a big topic with the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) 2.2 release, which integrates server and desktop virtualization technologies and includes better scalability, migration tools, performance and security.

The company also shed light on improvements to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6, which will hit beta 2 next week. RHEL 6 will include a completely updated operating system kernel and other core enhancements, performance enhancements to all components and much better scalability.

Ian Anderson, a Denmark-based IT pro with Lego Corp. who uses RHEL, said he is eager to test the version 6 beta, especially with the scalability and performance improvements to KVM, which make it a viable supplement for his VMware environment.

Matthew Micene, a solutions architect with DLT Solutions, a Herndon, Va... Red Hat partner, said some of the greatest "unsung" new features in RHEL 6 are in the development tools. For instance, the Systemtap utility has been greatly improved and there is much better support and more hooks for Java interoperability.

"Instead of getting a blank interface, you get pre-written scripts," Micene said. "That makes it very useful to a lot more people."

He said the developer tools are more template driven, which makes it easier to see how tools are used while remaining fully customizable. "They are chasing D-Trace" in terms of features and functions," Micene said. The improvements will be important for sys admins and developers, he added.

Still, as with any OS update, there is institutional inertia. "If it's too new," said Tai Ton, a systems architect with MBA Consulting Services, Inc., "Should we wait?" Ton echoed the sentiments of many attendees that are interested in the latest release but have no definite plans to update yet.

Red Hat's cloud play
Like it or not, cloud computing was as persistent a theme as virtualization at the Red Hat Summit 2010, where the company launched a cloud management platform called Red Hat Cloud Foundations. The new platform helps IT pros plan, manage and build public and private cloud environments and includes products, implementation how-to's along with reference architectures, services and training classes to help administrators create and operate clouds.

This "how-to" approach to cloud management resonated with attendees who are still confused about what cloud means for them, said an IT consultant with a consulting firm in VA.

"I had a client interested in public cloud, and they asked me what they should do with all of their people when they move to cloud," he said. "They didn't realize that you can't just move everything to Amazon [Web Services]; there are databases and things that you'll want to keep in house."

While public cloud computing remains a bit of an abstract concept, many IT shops already use virtualization to build private cloud environments.

For instance, one IT engineer who works for a major aerospace engineering company in Texas said government firms are interested in what cloud has to offer, but have security and compliance concerns. Instead, they are building private clouds, and Red Hat's cloud management platform could prove useful for them, he said.

Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst said during the keynote most of the interest in cloud stems from customer frustration over operating system bloat and having to pay for features they don't need; a clear reference to Microsoft Windows. With cloud, companies only pay for what they need. "Cloud is about addressing deep seated issues with the way software is being developed," he said.

*Senior News Director Barbara Darrow and Assistant Site Editor Ryan Arsenault contributed to this report

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho or follow @BridgetBotelho on Twitter

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