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RHEL 8 beta looks to speed development of cloud-based apps

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0 updates the software's DevOps capabilities with Application Streams, and boosts its appeal to both developers and line-of-business managers.

Red Hat has introduced a long-awaited beta version of its flagship Linux operating system, which at its core, promises to help speed up development and delivery of cloud-based apps.

One of the new capabilities of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8 is Application Streams, which separates user-space packages from the operating system's kernel. This lets users deliver new versions of their on-premises or cloud-based applications with minor versions of RHEL, and not wait for major versions of the operating system to arrive.

Application Streams is an evolution of Red Hat's Software Collections, technology used to update various versions of databases, languages and frameworks, according to Ron Pacheco, the director of product management at RHEL.

"RHEL 8 has a delivery stream for everything in the user space," Pacheco said. "There will be one for MongoDB, Node.js or MySQL. So as these are being developed they are sent upstream where app developers can access them from a minor RHEL release and not have to wait for a major release," he said.

Application Streams is a necessary step for Red Hat to refresh its appeal for the new breed of corporate and third-party developers, said Asish Nadkarni, an IDC analyst.

"Red Hat has been dinged for being too old school, and with this move they are clearly trying to discard that image," he said. "It's a step in the right direction to put enterprises first and to be more developer centric."

RHEL 8 also includes Composer tool to help build packages and deploy images across hybrid clouds, from bare-metal to virtual and cloud instances. The bundled file system, Stratis -- which recently reached 1.0 status, symbolic of improved stability -- simplifies data management using an API for system administrators who aren't data experts. RHEL 8 also includes support for OpenSSL 1.1.1 and TLS 1.3, Yum 4 for Linux package management, NVDIMM and package versions of Python 3.6, Gnome Shell 3.28 and PHP 7.2.

RHEL 8 seeks a LOB audience

One of the challenges Red Hat grappled with to develop RHEL 8 was how the software would accommodate the dual role that modern operating systems play in the DevOps world.

This release shows Red Hat's recognition of the shift from IT managers making the buying decisions to now sharing that responsibility with LOBs.
Asish Nadkarnianalyst, IDC

IT organizations need improved capabilities to maintain VMs and hardware, properly secure environments, and give developers access to the latest languages, databases and frameworks, Pacheco said. At the same time, enterprises see how these technologies help them be more efficient and competitive, especially in the cloud, so line of business (LOB) managers are increasingly involved in IT procurement.

IDC's Nadkarni said he thinks Red Hat is right to focus on the needs of LOBs, who increasingly influence strategic corporate purchasing decisions.

"Infrastructure companies don't have much brand recognition with line-of-business managers," Nadkarni said. "This release shows Red Hat's recognition of the shift from IT managers making the buying decisions to now sharing that responsibility with LOBs."

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