As expected, Red Hat has released its latest server business operating system: Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.1. This is the first major update to the platform since RHEL 6 shipped in November 2010.
RHEL 6.1 features optimized KVM virtualization, new hardware support, improved operational efficiency, and high availability (HA) improvements. It also includes improved development and monitoring tools such as an updated Eclipse development environment includes enhanced breakpoint and code generation for C/C++ and Java.
The company also announced, to no surprise, that it's improved RHEL's virtualization and cloud offerings. The company also claimed customers will see faster performance with HP and IBM hardware. You can see it for yourself. RHEL 6.1 is available to subscribing Red Hat customers today worldwide via the Red Hat Network.
Red Hat also commissioned a study from industry analyst firm IDC to examine its long-term total cost of ownership (TCO) benefits. This study compared RHEL with running mixed environments or non-paid Linux distributions. In a statement, Al Gillen, Program VP, System Software at IDC said that "Organizations that are heavily standardized on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and compared those organizations with others that had a mixture of Linux distributions in use, and organizations that were heavily penetrated by non-paid Linux distributions. The outcome of the study found that there is demonstrable business benefit associated with having professional support for an operating system, compared to a do-it-yourself approach. The real benefits came from lower IT staff costs and reduced end user downtime." For the full report, see Understanding Linux Deployment Strategies: The Business Case for Standardizing on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
At the same time all this is happening, Red Hat's most direct rivals, CentOS and Scientific Linux, both RHEL clones, are having trouble keeping up with RHEL. You may not have heard of CentOS, but it's the most popular Web server OS of all.
CentOS has been lagging behind RHEL though for the last few months. Some users, tired of waiting for CentOS to catch up with RHEL are abandoning it for Scientific Linux. While Microsoft-of all companies!--is now supporting CentOS was an optimized OS on its Hyper-V virtualization platform--specifically Windows Server R2 Hyper-V, it seems likely that the RHEL clones are going to find it harder than ever to keep pace with RHEL.
That's by design. Red Hat wanted it that way. As Bryan Stevens, Red Hat's CTO and VP of worldwide engineering, wrote recently, "Our competitors in the Enterprise Linux market have changed their commercial approach from building and competing on their own customized Linux distributions, to one where they directly approach our customers offering to support RHEL. Frankly, our response is to compete While Red Hat was aiming this change in how it handled its source code mostly at Oracle, which has its own RHEL clone, Unbreakable Linux, the move has also made it harder for all of Red Hat's would-be competitors to keep up with RHEL.
At the same time, SUSE Linux is under new management. While its new owner, Attachmate, at first said encouraging things about SUSE/Novell's future, since then though Attachmate has cut hundreds of Novell employees.
Add it all up and Red Hat has released a new strong, cloud-friendly Linux at the same time that its Linux rivals are starting to fall behind. Red Hat has long been the dominant business Linux. With these developments, I expect it to become the server Linux in the same way that Windows long ago became the desktop operating system.