Red Hat Unleashes Project Atomic as Part of Linux Container Effort

Red Hat introduces Project Atomic, which enables apps to easily be deployed on containers, as Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 release nears.

Red Hat is pushing forward with its next generation of enterprise Linux technologies, and virtualization containers are set to play a starring role. Today, Red Hat announced new virtualization and cloud initiatives leveraging open-source container technology, including an effort known as Project Atomic.

Paul Cormier, president of Red Hat's products and technologies, explained to eWEEK that Project Atomic is really a cloud host operating system. With open-source container technology from Docker, instead of requiring a separate operating system with each virtual machine, as is the case with traditional virtualization hypervisor technology, applications run in containers on top of a host operating system.

With Project Atomic, Red Hat wants to make sure that the host operating system used for containers will be its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). The Atomic project is the upstream open-source project that enables applications to easily be deployed on containers and will be complemented with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host commercially supported offering.

"Atomic is effectively a much slimmed down Red Hat Enterprise Linux on which multiple application containers can ride," Cormier said. "The beauty is that it's the same RHEL 7 across bare metal, OpenStack and now the Atomic platform."

RHEL 7 is currently at the final release candidate stage, with a generally available update expected before the end of the month. By having a single platform that is consistent across multiple deployment approaches, the goal is to enable applications to be certified once to run across multiple environments.

The Docker technology is not yet at its 1.0 release and has only been in existence for a year. In the RHEL 7 release, Docker support is a technology preview, with full support expected to arrive with a RHEL 7.1 update later this year, Cormier said. In March, Red Hat announced a certification effort for container technology to help accelerate enterprise adoption.

"You have to realize that what is really running the containerized application is RHEL," Cormier said. "Docker provides the tools, data format and structures, but what the application is really still sitting on top of is RHEL."

The Project Atomic effort is one that in many ways mirrors other vendors attempting to build a lightweight cloud operating system. Startup Cloudius, which was founded by former Red Hat engineers, has a cloud operating system called OSv. The open-source Xen Linux Foundation Collaboration Project has its own cloud operating system called Mirage.

"What other people are still missing is that a cloud operating system is still an operating system," Cormier said. "It's still all about having a platform where you know how the application will act and perform."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.