Red Hat has released the second beta of its upcoming enterprise Linux offering.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (RHEL v5), the final version of which is due to debut early next year, will include integrated server and storage virtualisation and failover at both the application and virtual machine level.
RHEL v5 will compete against Novell's Suse enterprise server offering.
Al Gillen, research vice president at analyst group IDC, said: "The incorporation of virtualisation technologies into operating system software is a major industry development that will have long term impact on how customers design their computer infrastructure, how they deploy, and how they plan for scalability, availability and continuity."
Gillen added: "Red Hat's approach of integrating virtualisation software and clustering technology together with file system software gives... the capability to go beyond basic server consolidation and address more sophisticated virtualisation requirements."
Red Hat says it has made "extensive enhancements" to the kernel, network and I/O subsystems since release of the fourth version. Senior vice president Tim Yeaton said: "We continue to drive down costs by optimising performance, manageability and availability."
It has been a tough month for Red Hat. Firstly Oracle started to encroach on its market share by saying it would sell support to Red Hat customers and offer its own free clone of the open-source operating system.
Then a week later, Microsoft revealed that it would recommend Novell's products to customers who want to deploy a mixed Microsoft/open-source environment.