The latest release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux has a very strong focus on the hybrid cloud

After conquering the data center, the king of Linux is now looking at cloud. According to the 2017 Vendor Ratings by Gartner, Red Hat controls more than 70% of the entire Linux market. The figures must have increased in 2018 (check the latest ratings by Gartner).

As containers and cloud posed threats to Red Hat’s core business, in 2014 the company swiftly switched their focus towards ‘cloud and mobile’. The trait of identifying potential market trends and adapting to them is of the of factors that Red Hat has emerged as the most successful open source company. The proof can be seen in the 2017 financial results in which the company registered ~ 3 Billions in revenues.

“The future of enterprise IT doesn’t exist solely in the datacenter or in the public cloud, but rather as a fusion of environments spread across IT’s four footprints: physical, virtual, private cloud, and public cloud,” said Denise Dumas, vice president, Platform Engineering, Red Hat.

It is not a surprise that the latest release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL 7.5), the cash cow for the company that brought in roughly $2.5 billion in 2017, is being fine tuned for cloud. But there is no single cloud. Companies use a mix of infrastructure, some run on-prem, some run on public cloud and most on the private cloud (the latest CNCF surgery gives a great picture of cloud consumption). As a result, the core focus of RHEL 7.5 is on hybrid cloud, including enhanced integration with Microsoft Windows infrastructure both on-premise and in Microsoft Azure.

It seems RHEL 7.5 has four core focus areas:

Enhanced hybrid cloud security and compliance:  Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 provides enhanced software security controls to mitigate risk while also complementing, rather than hindering, IT operations.

A major component of these controls is security automation through the integration of OpenSCAP with Red Hat Ansible Automation. This is designed to enable the creation of Ansible Playbooks directly from OpenSCAP scans which can then be used to implement remediations more rapidly and consistently across a hybrid IT environment. Sensitive data can also now be better secured across varied environments with enhancements to Network-Bound Disk Encryption that support automatic decryption of data volumes.

 Improved storage performance and efficiency: Virtual data optimizer (VDO), helps customers reduce data storage costs in the cloud and on-premise by up to 83 percent according to Red Hat internal research. VDO reduces data redundancy and improves effective storage capacity through deduplication and compression of data before it lands on a disk.

Simplified management: DevOps Engineers, operators, sysadmins and developers have other important things to do than deal with the complexity of the underneath operating systems.

RHEL 7.5 tries to reduce the overall learning curve for new Linux systems administrators, troubleshooters, and developers by making complex tasks, like systems management, easier through enhancements to the cockpit administrator console. Provided as a simplified web interface, these enhancements are designed to eliminate many of the complexities involved with managing Linux-based systems, including network and storage set-ups.

Additionally, new functionality and integration with Windows-based infrastructure is offered in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, including improved management and communication with Windows Server implementations, more secure data transfers with Microsoft Azure, and performance improvements for complex Microsoft Active Directory architectures. Overall, this can help to provide a smoother transition for organizations seeking to bridge the scalability and flexibility of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 implementations with existing Windows-based IT investments.

Production-ready Linux containers: Everyone knows the rivalry that exists between Docker and Red Hat. Containers pose a threat to traditional OS based operating systems, but Red Hat has already adopted a very focused container strategy. The company recently acquired Core OS, one of the most innovative players of the distributed systems space. With RHEL 7.5, Red Hat claims to make container-based technologies production-ready. Container security has been enhanced, adding proactive security and compliance configuration at build along with finer-grained security and host layer access controls.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 also adds full support for Buildah, an open source utility designed to help developers create and modify Linux container images without a full container runtime or daemon running in the background. This enables IT teams to build and deploy containerized applications more quickly without needing to run a full container engine, reducing the attack surface and removing the need to run a container engine on a system not intended to do so in production.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 is simultaneously available across all supported architectures, including x86, IBM Power, IBM z Systems, and 64-bit Arm. This release also brings support for single-host KVM virtualization and Open Container Initiative (OCI)-formated runtime environment and base image to IBM z Systems.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 is now available in the Red Hat Customer Portal to all customers with an active Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription. You can also grab a free evaluation copy for Red Hat for free.

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