The release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 at a media event in San Francisco on March 14 reflects not only years of engineering work by Red Hat itself, but also its collaboration efforts with strategic partners such as IBM.
This collaboration resulted in the integration of Real-Time Linux capabilities, improved virtualization features and security enhancements into the latest version of the companys operating system, said Dan Frye, vice president for open systems development at IBM.
Paul Cormier, executive vice president of engineering at Red Hat, also acknowledged the contributions of others to the product.
"RHEL 5 is much more that just an upgrade to Linux—it is the culmination of a complete enterprise architecture that includes a broad ecosystem of certified, reliable solutions from partners like IBM," he said.
RHEL 5 includes the Xen virtualization technology found in the Linux kernel, which helps businesses lower management costs by increasing server utilization.
IBM, which have been working with Red Hat and the Xen development community over the past two years to develop and harden the Xen hypervisor, plans to support the Xen technology in RHEL 5 through the companys virtualization portfolio running on its Intel and Opteron processor-based server and IBM BladeCenter systems, Frye said.
But Justin Steinman, director of product marketing for Linux and open source at Red Hat competitor Novell, is quick to point out that SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 was first to market with Xen virtualization, which provides enterprises with a lower-cost alternative to market leader VMware.
"With RHEL 5, Red Hat is following Novells lead by including Xen into their distribution. Novell is already in Phase Two with our Xen virtualization offering, including exclusive interoperability with Microsoft Windows and new tools to manage both physical and virtual servers in the data center," he said.
IBM is currently testing and certifying RHEL 5 across all of its standards-based systems hardware and middleware and also plans to provide services and support for RHEL 5.
In addition, Big Blue and Red Hat developers collaborated with the open-source community to build Security-Enhanced Linux into Red Hats core operating system to provide Multilevel Security capabilities.
These capabilities enable enterprise customers, particularly those in the government sector, to create a mandatory access control policy that allows information to be classified as top secret, secret, confidential and unclassified.
"This security underpinning of the Linux kernel compartmentalizes applications and services into distinct security domains, providing a highly secure platform for applications or data for all types of customers. After testing and certification, these features will be available in RHEL 5, and supported by IBM software and systems," Frye said.
IBM hardware and software products running on RHEL 5 are also being evaluated at the Common Criteria EAL (Evaluated Assurance Level) 4+, LSPP (Labeled Security Protection Profile), RBAC (Role Based Access Control Protection Profile) and CAPP (Controlled Access Protection Profile).
Red Hat plans to include in RHEL 5.1 as a technology preview new encrypted file system capabilities developed by IBM and adopted in the kernel to protect user identity by encrypting data at the file level in systems and on laptops.