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Red Hat Enterprise Linux still central to Red Hat's strategy

While it may be overshadowed by OpenShift and Kubernetes, Red Hat Summit attendees were reminded that Red Hat Enterprise Linux still has a strategic role to play.

With technologies like OpenShift, Kubernetes and hybrid clouds hogging the spotlight at Red Hat Summit this week, a number of company officials offered gentle reminders that its flagship operating system, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, remains a key foundational piece for each of those technologies.

Paul Cormier, newly appointed president and CEO of Red Hat, and Stefanie Chiras, vice president and general manager of Red Hat's RHEL business unit, each said Linux serves as not only a foundational technology for OpenShift and Kubernetes but for the rest of the company's portfolio as well.

"RHEL not only has to serve users for all it does as an operating system but also has to serve OpenShift in its mission," Chiras said about Red Hat Enterprise Linux. "That means OpenShift is putting a good deal of pressure on our roadmap to deliver new innovations on the container side of things. The OpenShift experience for us amounts to a different way to deploy Linux."

In a conference session focused on the road map for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, company executives declined to offer up specifics on any features planned for upcoming versions. But Chiras did make it clear the company will maintain a hard focus on improving the operating system's security over the next few releases, which, she noted, sits at the top of most corporate users' wish lists.

"Security in the enterprise remains critically important; it is something our customers want us to continually address," Chiras said. "Building that security starts with a solid foundation, which is the operating system."

Another item high on users' wish lists is an easier way for users to stay on top of managing their subscriptions effectively -- something the company has addressed in the newly released RHEL 8.2. Some Red Hat users found it challenging to stay on top of all the features and functions their subscriptions give them access to, Chiras said. For instance, some Red Hat Enterprise Linux users aren't fully aware of some of the features available in the company's Insights package, which the company has offered as a service to RHEL subscribers the past several years.

"Starting with RHEL 8.x and going forward, we are integrating Insights technology directly into the offering," said Tim Cramer, Red Hat's vice president in charge of software engineering. "So, now we can offer more things like management capabilities, whenever and wherever the customer needs them. In the past, we weren't able to integrate Insights features directly."

Analysts see version 8.2 as an incremental, yet necessary release.

[RHEL 8.2] continues the momentum around the platform. It doesn't have the excitement of a brand-new operating system, but it's adding more stability to the platform as the next incremental step.
Judith HurwitzPresident and CEO, Hurwitz & Associates

"This continues the momentum around the platform with things like improved scalability, manageability and more consistent configuration policies," said Judith Hurwitz, president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates. "It doesn't have the excitement of a brand-new operating system, but it's adding more stability to the platform as the next incremental step."

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2 includes enhanced management and monitoring features via Red Hat Insights. Now organizations can proactively identify and remediate security, compliance and configuration risks across the breadth of a RHEL environment. The additional Insights features can help improve productivity by eliminating a number of manual methods when managing more complex corporate environments and, at the same time, improve security.

With the COVID-19 virus still raging, an increasing number of IT professionals are working remotely; there has been a greater emphasis on being able to monitor and analyze the underlying foundations of various technology stacks, regardless of where they are located across multi-cloud environments. Red Hat believes RHEL 8.2 can discover, as well as address, potential problem areas before they can disrupt productions environments.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2 also features new services to help IT personnel monitor internal policies and decide which Red Hat product advisories apply to RHEL instances. It can also provide guidance for remediation, the company said.

Red Hat also added improvements to the Red Hat Universal Base Image in version 8.2. Those improvements include OpenJDK and .Net Framework 3.0, which offer developers broader choice in building Red Hat-certified cloud-native applications. The company made it easier to access source code associated with a specific image using only a single command, helping Red Hat's development partners meet source code requirements for open source licensing.

The company has also added a Red Hat subscription watch software-as-a-service tool, designed to make it easier to manage cloud subscriptions. The tool lets users view Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform subscriptions across a hybrid cloud-based infrastructure.

RHEL 8.2 will be "available soon" through the company's customer portal, according to the company, adding that it has yet to determine a specific date to ship the final release.

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