by Brian Stevens, CTO and vice president of engineering, Red Hat

Red Hat Enterprise Linux: The Business OS for Flexibility and Value

Nov 16, 20076 mins

The choice for reducing operating costs and providing a secure, reliable, scalable operating system.

Today’s IT departments need to do more, with less budget. They need to rapidly develop and deploy new applications. They need to build a flexible infrastructure—one that can rapidly adjust to the needs of the business. There are many key benefits inherent in Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

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Cost Savings

The latest release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, version 5, often coupled with other Red Hat open-source solutions, transforms the economics of IT by eliminating the need to purchase, integrate and maintain the proprietary server software stack. Customers today deploy many expensive software components on their servers: clustered file systems, volume managers, virtualization, application servers and the like, which cost thousands of dollars per server. With Red Hat Enterprise Linux, many of these capabilities are included for no additional cost, freeing up hundreds of thousands of dollars of budget—which can be used to deliver new applications, improve service levels and train staff. The goal is to disrupt the economics and to free budget that CIOs can reallocate to close the capabilities gap. For example, virtualization, storage management and high availability capabilities are all integrated into the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform.



A primary goal of Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform was to make virtualization simple and practical in real-world deployments. Consequently, the product includes both server and storage virtualization and a powerful system management infrastructure.

One of the great features of virtualization is the ability to move virtual machines from one physical server to another in real time, called live migration.

In the latest version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux:

  • Virtualization is provided in all server products and is optionally available for client products.
  • Storage and extended server virtualization are provided with Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform.
  • Red Hat Network supports virtualized guest operating systems.
  • Virt-manager, libvirt/virsh management tools are included.


Live migration through virtualization is not very useful if the servers don’t have a common view of storage. So we included a global file system and multinode logical volume management with every copy of Advanced Platform. It allows virtual machines to migrate at will, while keeping seamless access to their storage.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 includes:

  • Support for root device multipath IO, improving availability
  • Single system/guest version of Red Hat Global File System, included in the base server product
  • Block device data encryption support


Another major focus area for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 was to deliver industry-leading security. Red Hat recently announced that the product was the first to receive EAL4+/LSPP certification, thereby meeting the needs of the most demanding security environments. In other areas, the product provides the latest technologies for application development, heterogeneous interoperability and desktop users.

Red Hat’s leadership role in the open-source development community means that its engineering organization is responsible for development of many of the technologies that deliver these features.

In Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5:

  • SELinux enhancements include multilevel security and targeted policies for all services.
  • SEtroubleshooter GUI simplifies SELinux management.
  • Integrated directory and security capabilities.
  • IPSEC enhancements improve security and performance.
  • ExecShield enhancements, such as a call frame Canary word, strengthen hacker defenses.
  • New audit features provide powerful new search/reporting and real-time monitoring.


Another critical value of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux family of solutions is the huge partner ecosystem that customers can draw on to complete their deployment. Red Hat’s ecosystem of certified applications is by far the largest in the open-source market, and its size creates a powerful halo effect, attracting new ISVs that are looking to support Linux. To date, nearly 3,000 applications have been certified on Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux and JBoss product families. Systems and peripherals from all the leading hardware vendors are certified with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and are available from the industry’s leading distributors. Applications available today for version 5 cover many different markets from leading vendors including BEA, EMC, Ingres, Opsware, Oracle, Platform Computing, SAP, Sybase, Symantec and VMware.


Red Hat also offers the world’s most comprehensive open-source services and support capabilities, ranging from onsite consulting, to developer support, to extensive training courses for administrators, users and developers.

Kernel and Performance

  • Based on the Linux 2.6.18 kernel
  • Support for multicore processors
  • Broad range of new hardware support
  • Updated crash dump capability provided by Kexec/Kdump
  • Support for Intel Network Accelerator Technology
  • Numerous enhancements for large SMP systems
  • Enhanced pipe buffering
  • IPv4/IPv6 fragmentation offload and buffer management
  • Dynamically switchable per-queue I/O schedulers
  • Kernel buffer splice capability for improved I/O buffer operations

Networking and Interoperability

  • Network storage enhancements include Autofs, FS-Cache and iSCSI support
  • IPv6 support and conformance enhancements
  • Improved Microsoft file/print and Active Directory integration

Community Participation

Red Hat’s development model starts with the community and with customers. A key part of a Red Hat subscription is the ability to work with us to define what our products will be. So, when we sat down with our customers to define Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, many had already started using the key features, available through our free Fedora distribution. This direct experience guided their input and allowed us to design Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 to meet their specific needs. They worked through the trade-offs between simplicity and complexity, flexibility and manageability, and so on. It engendered a level of participation unobtainable in the proprietary software world.

Other benefits

Red Hat Enterprise Linux also includes flexibility, improved resource management, scalability, advances in the application development environment and more.

In summary, we’ve built our solutions to reduce operating costs and provide a reliable, scalable, performance-enhancing solution for customers.

Brian Stevens, CTO and vice president of engineering at Red Hat, has more than 20 years of enterprise engineering experience in Unix and Linux technologies, including work as a developer on the first commercial release of the X Window System. Stevens now leads the emerging technologies group.