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Red Hat bolsters Edge strategy with major RHEL platform update

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.4 brings container deployment and management tools scaled around edge requirements

Red Hat has added a host of features to its flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) platform to refine the product as a lightweight, production-grade operating system for edge computing

With RHEL 8.4, which will launch in the next few weeks, the company is adding Linux container deployment and management capabilities scaled for the intensive demands of edge computing. The latest version of the flagship operating system adds container images, enhanced management of edge deployments at scale, and automatic container updates.

Together, these improvements comprise the foundational layer for the ‘Red Hat Edge’ initiative, which aims to extend the capabilities of the firm’s hybrid cloud portfolio to edge computing across various industries. The segments being targeted initially include telecoms, transport, as well as smart vehicles. 

“The vision of open hybrid cloud - that sort of build once and deploy anywhere - that gets extended to the edge as we have seen this incredible thirst for the capabilities that edge can bring,” said senior vice president and general manager for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Stefanie Chiras, speaking on a panel at Red Hat Summit 2021. 

“As we look at what we have done with open hybrid cloud, edge becomes that next extension for us to broaden out that hybrid cloud, bringing that choice that our platform delivers out into edge use cases.”

“To me when we look at our value in edge, it fundamentally comes to our capabilities in Linux. What we’ve done in RHEL, how we’ve built that out to be the heart of an ecosystem, and a stable, secure platform, how we’ve brought that into the OpenShift platform to deliver Kubernetes and management around containerisation - all of that consistency is critically important when we get out to the edge.” 

With updates to Podman, RHEL’s open standards-based container engine, the platform will help to maintain standardisation and control across several Linux containers, which is critical to edge deployments. 

There’s also new functionality to Image Builder, a tool that creates customised deployable operating system images for a variety of users. This tool supports the creation of installation media tailored for bare metal, which helps IT teams maintain a common foundation across disconnected edge environments.

Finally, the Red Hat Universal Base Image (UBI), which allows containers to retain RHEL’s traits such as security at the application level, is now available in a lightweight micro image. This makes it ideal for building redistributable, cloud-native app standardisation on an enterprise-grade Linux foundation, minus the overhead of an entire operating system deployment. 

The latest version of RHEL also adds a few non-edge-oriented features, including greater flexibility for cloud-based applications, more simplified and automated system configuration and management, as well as greater security. 

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