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CeBIT 2007: Red Hat releases Enterprise Linux 5

New version of Red Hat's enterprise-level Linux distribution goes on general release, offering users revised pricing and a host of new features.

Linux vendor Red Hat has unveiled the latest version of its open source operating system for the business market.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 includes several new features and sees the company implement a revised set of subscription prices.

Tim Yeaton, senior vice president of marketing at Red Hat told us that the core message of this latest release is simplification. The company is also trying to bolster its reputation among business leaders by offering a new subscription model based on a per machine licence, bringing it into line with other established software providers.

This means customers don't have to count users, installations or cores. Each Advanced Platform licence allows the user to run as many virtualised instances of RHEL 5 as they like on a system. And this extends to virtualised storage.

"If you don't have virtualised storage," said Yeaton, "You lose a lot of the benefits [of a virtualised environment]."

The Xen-enabled virtualisation capabilities of RHEL 5 form one of the main new advances in the platform, as is support for the power-saving and 64-bit features of the latest chip hardware, including x86 32- and 64-bit processors, from AMD and Intel, and Itanium2 and IBM Power mainframe hardware.

The Red Hat Network has also been extended for virtualised and part-virtualised environments.

Quite what virtualisation means for Red Hat was unclear. Yeaton had little data on virtualisation adoption within the current strata of Red Hat customers, but expected the technology to 'lead to a whole set of uses for which this could be compelling'.

Yeaton said that Red Hat will continue to work with VMWare, despite building in virtualisation technologies to RHEL 5.

RHEL 5 also features new management capabilities which, the company claims, allows system administrators to manage five times the number of Red Hat servers as Windows servers.

Security features in its SE Linux version are built in to RHEL 5.

The company has also simplified the installation process, which is now run off a single image and configured for specific workloads. Specific set-ups available for RHEL 5 include the Data Centre solution, Database Availability solution and High Performance Computing solution. Each includes a package of RHEL 5 licences, management services, and training and support options.

The basic product is available in two versions, however. Advanced Platform features application migration, logical volume management and global file systems built-in and enhanced management capabilities, as well as unlimited guests. The basic Enterprise Linux version is aimed at smaller servers of up to two sockets, four guests and has limited scalability and flexibility.

They cost $2,499 and $1,299 respectively with Premium support, $1,499 and $799 with Standard support, and the Enterprise Linux version is also available with a Basic support package for $349.

Yeaton said the subscription pricing allows customers to upgrade 'at whatever pace is right for them'.

The company is also working on applying open-source principles to other areas of its business. It wants to encourage its customers to participate in development - Yeaton noted the work Red Hat is undertaking with a number of banks both here and in the US on a project in the area of messaging.

Red Hat says it will also open up its knowledge base to customers, allowing greater transparency in its operations and better opportunities for sharing knowledge and collaboration.

It is working on a partner federation to offer a range of open-source applications and solutions all certified to a Red Hat stack, and using Red Hat as the single point of contact for support.

There will also be support options for a 'one throat to choke' scenario, said Yeaton. 'And that's us.' Rather than having to phone around the support numbers of all vendors involved in an issue, one call to Red Hat will set its operators calling on all the parties for you.

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