Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 launches with simplified multicloud tools

Last version of RHEL before IBM merger makes Linux deployments easier for beginners and new admins

Open source giant Red Hat has made the latest generation of its Enterprise Linux operating system generally available, bringing with it a host of new features that it hopes will support the growing adoption of hybrid and multicloud deployments.

By upgrading to the new Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8, customers will be able to benefit from a more streamlined process for updating developer tools and frameworks, better security support, compatibility with some of Red Hat's newest services out of the box, and a more user-friendly GUI that aims to reduce the barrier to entry for Linux beginners.

Red Hat is hoping to capitalise on a growing multicloud industry that's seen adoption across 70% of customers, according to recent IDC data. What's more, 64% of applications from an average company's IT portfolio are based in either public or private cloud.

With Linux poised to play a part in around $10 trillion in global business revenue this year, Red Hat believes that the software layer should be keeping pace in the multicloud era, particularly when companies are also adopting other disruptive strategies, like AI and DevOps.

Speaking at Red Hat Summit this week, Stefanie Chiras, vice president and general manager of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, explained that the company wants to serve as a "junction" between innovative products and applying these to a business ecosystem.

"Innovation and Linux are inseparable - from building the Internet's backbone to forming the first neurons of AI, Linux drives IT's present and future," said Chiras. "We want to redefine the value of an operating system in this new era of IT. We want to really show to the industry that Red Hat is an enterprise software portfolio company, not a product company."

As an example, she highlighted the addition of Insights into RHEL 8 by default, effectively a support service that allows customers to access expertise on their Linux deployments. This will monitor a business' deployment and identify any security vulnerabilities or stability issues, and flag these automatically to admins. Red Hat was keen to state that this was more of a "coaching" approach to support, as customers become more familiar with the platform, and effectively replaces the idea of support tickets.

"We've pulled Insights directly into the RHEL subscription - that allows customers to use a software-as-a-service offering, [and] leverage all the tools that we offer," Chiras explained.

Another major addition is the Application Streams feature, a tool that aims to improve the platform's process of updating languages and frameworks, something that has traditionally been difficult to do without creating instability. With Application Streams, these languages and frameworks will be updated far more frequently without straining core resources.

It's clear that making things easier is the theme of the iteration, something that's certainly resonated with Red Hat's customers. Today, RHEL enjoys over 50,000 deployments, and recorded 8,000 downloads for its beta phase of version 8 - compared to just 400 for RHEL 7.

Specifically, it has hidden many of the more granular system tasks behind the updated RHEL GUI, which now also makes it easier to update instances from version 7 to 8. It also draws upon Ansible, Red Hat's automation platform, to power new system roles and allows the creation of workflows for more complex management tasks. This should make it far easier for, for example, new system admins to adopt new protocols and reduce the possibility of human error.

RHEL is still Red Hat's flagship product, and will certainly serve as a springboard for the rest of its portfolio. In fact, Red Hat also plans to introduce Enterprise Linux CoreOS, a lightweight version of RHEL 8 designed for customers using OpenShift 4.

The release marks the last iteration of RHEL released before the completion of the $33 billion acquisition by IBM, which was approved by the US Department of Justice this week.

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