Red Hat Updates Management, Provisioning Tools

Red Hat last week at LinuxWorld beat the drum about system administration tools for Linux. The company announced new provisioning capabilities for Red Hat Network, and pointed towards future virtualization and management features.

Red Hat Inc. officials last week beat the drum about the need for better system administration tools for Linux. To meet that need, Red Hat announced at New Yorks LinuxWorld new provisioning capabilities for Red Hat Network, while also pointing the way toward virtualization and a number of other future management features.

Improved system management tools will let customers "cut the cost curve as flat as possible," by keeping staffing budgets low, said Sean Witty, product marketing manager for Red Hat Network. Red Hat is taking an incremental approach, Witty said. Over time, the company will release an entire series of software modules for its Open Source Architecture, first unveiled in the fall.

/zimages/5/28571.gifRed Hats Open Source Architecture aims to provide a standards-based open-source infrastructure for management and application support across multiple hardware platforms. Click here to read more about the technology and strategy.

The companys update module and a management module have already hit the streets. Provided with every Red Hat Network subscription, the update module includes a GUI, priority notification, errata information, Red Hat Package Module (RPM) dependency checking software, and auto update. The management module provides system grouping and role-based administration of policies, permissions, and scheduled actions.

The new provisioning module, the third in Red Hats series, will help "drive down the costs of [software] delivery," Witty maintained.

Red Hat officials also mentioned a number of other future modules, which will add functionality such as virtualization, policy-based administration, and system "health and well-being."

The upcoming virtualization module will integrate technology from Sistina, a storage software firm acquired by Red Hat in December for $31 million. Officials said the company also has its eye on virtualization monitoring.

Witty also said Red Hat at this time has no plans for additional acquisitions to fill in the gaps in its system management product line.

Analysts see provisioning as a logical step for a vendor to take before moving into policy-based administration and/or virtualization. "With provisioning, the customer is assigning a [software] workload to a particular server," noted Tony Iams, vice president for systems software at D.H. Brown Associates Inc. of Port Chester, New York. "With virtualization, youre making the best use of available resources, from a performance and price perspective. Policy-based administration provides automation."

Customers deploying the Red Hat Network tools include DreamWorks LLC, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Rackspace Managed Hosting.

Specific capabilities of the new provisioning module include operation system provisioning; Red Hat Package Module (RPM)-based application provisioning; configuration management; and multi-state rollback.

Dirk Elmendorf, Rackmounts chief technology evangelist and co-founder, said that San Antonio, Texas-based Rackmount is using the provisioning module to quickly provision software and distribute software patches for its hosted customers.


To accompany the new Red Hat Network tools, officials made mention of a new API access layer; an embedded database; and an application server, which is now in beta.

Red Hat Network Director Greg Peters said that the company also supports non-Red Hat distributions of Linux, but only when the customer creates custom channels. This capability is available under the Red Hat Network-proxy mode used by outside hosters, and under the satellite mode used by most enterprises. However, it is unavailable for companies whose applications are being hosted directly by Red Hat, Peters said.

Next Page: Improved tools can help the bottom line.