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With an eye toward easing digital transformation projects, the latest version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux includes improved container tools, new security profiles and the addition of several System Roles, including ones for kernel settings, SAP HANA and NetWeaver.
Red Hat also improved RHEL performance, adding updates to Tuned, which is a set of pre-configured profiles. Tuned allows IT shops to take better advantage of Red Hat's multi-architecture, enabling software to run faster across a number of different hardware architectures. Also, Red Hat Insights continues to remain available by default for RHEL systems. As part of version 8.3, Red Hat added administrator views specifically for SAP HANA deployments.
System Roles makes both common and complex RHEL configurations more consistent and accessible to a wider range of IT skillsets in large organizations.
RHEL 8.3 updates ease digitization during pandemic
The addition of technologies that make it easier to implement digital transformation projects is not surprising. With a pandemic still raging, corporate shops are accelerating digital transformation projects and need ways to implement them faster and more efficiently.
"It's clear more people are looking to do [digital transformation projects] but are finding in many cases it is a little more involved than they thought," said Daniel Elman, research manager with Nucleus Research Inc. "Red Hat is looking for ways to streamline that process by simplifying it and making it easier to use."
The new System Roles for SAP HANA address user complaints about the complexity of SAP's offerings.
Daniel ElmanResearch Manager, Nucleus Research
"It has been one of the biggest criticisms by users that SAP's products are difficult to get set up and configured, which still persists," Elman said. "It looks like IBM and Red Hat are taking it upon themselves to do what they can to make it a little bit easier to install and use."
Red Hat bolstered the product's security with Secure Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) profiles for the Center for Internet Security Benchmark. This helps IT shops configure systems quicker and more precisely to meet a wider range of security requirements while also adhering to a number of industry and government security standards, according to the company. Red Hat also expanded System Roles for security to include identity management, certificate management and network-bound disk encryption.
Red Hat's focus on improving security with the latest System Roles offerings is also not surprising because it relates in part to large companies having to deal with many more remote employees amid the pandemic.
"Before the pandemic, most companies had five to 10% of their employees working from home, but now it is more like 80 to 90%," said Judith Hurwitz, president of Hurwitz & Associates, Inc. "Added security and support in the System Roles for things like containers are key capabilities users are focused on."
RHEL8.3 also contains improvements to Applications Streams, which is where developer frameworks, databases, container tools and a number of other resources are separated from the core components of the operating system. The company added support for the first time to several developer tools including Node.js 14 and Ruby 2.7. The updated version of RHEL 8 still works with earlier versions of these tools, the company said.
Equally important is the improved stability of the new version, particularly for developers creating cloud-native applications, said Stefanie Chiras, senior vice president and general manager of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, in a prepared statement. She noted that Red Hat has seen technical innovations and enterprise-grade stability as elements that "aren't mutually exclusive" -- a perspective they held in the development of version 8.3.
"We continue looking to reinforce Linux as the bedrock for enterprise digital transformation," she said.
Giving incentive to corporate developers who build cloud-native applications, Red Hat updated container images for Buildah and Skopeo to reduce the level of friction that commonly exists between developer and operations teams in container deployments. The updates make it easier to build and consume containerized applications wherever they are needed, the company said. Podman 2.0 is also included, with a new REST API that lets users retain container code that relied on the Docker Container Engine.
RHEL 8.3 will be available in the coming weeks to those with Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscriptions via the Red Hat Customer Portal.