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Key takeaways from Red Hat Summit 2022

At Red Hat's 2022 Red Hat Summit, the organization announced changes to edge strategy, Linux admin skill gaps and hardware and software modernization.

The 2022 Red Hat Summit was held on May 10-11 and covered a number of customer, partner and industry expert approaches in open source technology delivery.

Red Hat has seen a lot of growth and market share when it comes to enterprise Linux. The innovation demonstrated at Red Hat Summit 2022 shows continued growth, not just when it comes to the OS, but also in ways that address organizational challenges such as skills gaps, edge growth and modernization across the ecosystem.

The shift in Red Hat's CentOS strategy caused disruption in the market for those using CentOS in production. However, Red Hat's advancements and forward-thinking direction seem to be addressing customers' biggest challenges. Market adoption will ultimately dictate the success of their strategy.

Key product takeaways

Here are the key highlights from the suite of products Red Hat showcased at the event:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 9. This version, now generally available, offers improved consistency across hybrid and public clouds, bare metal and edge networks. RHEL 9 is also built from CentOS Stream -- which is upstream continuous delivery of Linux. This allows for the RHEL ecosystem to see what is coming, see new code features and provide early input and feedback to Red Hat.
  • RHEL 9 edge capabilities. Edge is becoming increasingly important. RHEL 9 announced an edge management version delivered as a service that provides users the ability to monitor and scale remote deployments. This allows for enhanced security, control functionality, zero-touch provisioning and monitoring system health and migrations from a single viewpoint. This release also includes Image Builder, delivering customizable file systems and cloud provider support for AWS, Google Cloud Platform, VMware and Microsoft Azure.
  • RHEL 9 security. This release includes protection against hardware-level security vulnerabilities such as Spectre and Meltdown. This is achieved by having the OS create memory areas inaccessible to malicious code. RHEL 9 also provides PCI DSS and HIPAA customer security requirements. Another interesting enhancement is RHEL 9's integrity measurement architecture (IMA), which uses digital hashes so that users can detect rogue infrastructure modifications.
  • Automation with RHEL 9. This version offers an expanded set of system roles aligned with specific configurations. These roles include Postfix, high availability clusters firewall, Microsoft SQL Server and web console. Kernel live-patching from the web console enhancements enable IT teams to apply updates without using command-line tools. It enables management across the core to edge to multiple clouds.
  • Red Hat OpenShift Updates. OpenShift 4.10, released in March with zero-touch provisioning, provides repeatable automation for the edge, including factory workflows for partners and OEMs.
  • Ansible update and validate patterns. This update and release comes with new validate patterns for IT teams to build edge architectures quickly. The integration with GitOps gives healthcare providers a way to ingest, analyze and provide insights on medical images and data. Ansible Automation Platform adds new automation mesh virtualization to define where automations are running to provide scaling. The edge locations can scale while Ansible automation improves edge and hybrid cloud workflows.
  • Automotive OS and partnership. A partnership was announced with General Motors (GM) to deliver in-vehicle operating systems. GM is building the Ultifi software platform -- scheduled to launch in 2023 -- and has the Linux OS as the foundation.

Additional RHEL 9 highlights

I had the pleasure of speaking with Gunnar Hellekson, vice president and general manager of RHEL Business Unit and Chris Wells, senior director of product marketing for RHEL. During our conversation, we discussed the audience for the RHEL 9 release. The focus for this release targets three audience segments: hardware providers, application developers and operators.

For hardware providers, the support for Arm processers (ARM) and servers was added, elevating it to first-class citizenship. ARM is often used in enterprises, at the edge and in public clouds.

Red Hat is working closely within its ecosystem to collaborate, including providing boundaries to not overcommit. They are looking to accommodate the needs and function of the ecosystem but also provide consistency. This consistency is designed to provide app developers with a better experience.

Also, in order to keep customers current, Red Hat supports customers where they are with their systems. Red Hat plans to maintain different system states and versions, as this is important to customers, according to Hellekson. They plan to have a 10-year lifecycle for customers using previous versions of RHEL.

Another interesting discussion was around the edge. Red Hat states edge has different taxonomies. Edge is defined by Red Hat as a use where smaller OSes run on smaller hardware at multiple locations. This scenario means that updates can occur without any human intervention. Containerized apps would be deployed at the edge with the ability to roll back and use management tools. This is the horizontal use for RHEL edge.

Customizable solutions are also important to customers. RHEL is the so-called beating heart of customization, and internal and external groups depend and build on RHEL.

The conversation around the IT skills gap

Organizations are challenged by limited availability of Linux admins. One efficient way to address this is for organizations to provide consistency and unify their environment. Using tooling and automation like Ansible helps companies get the most of their Linux talent. OpenShift and automation can be used across a web console and with other hardware and software.

Managed services should also be considered. Steph Bacon, senior director of portfolio strategy at Red Hat, shared some insights about how Red Hat-managed services also play a key role in customer success. This is another area where organizations can use a managed service approach to offset the skills gap challenges.

And other Red Hat news

The hardware market is out of sync compared to a few years ago. The RHEL schedule is a three-year delivery for major release, and a six-month delivery for minor release. Consistency is important for customer roadmap planning, so providing this cycle publicly is important.

Future RHEL 10 and CentOS Stream releases were also discussed. When RHEL was first created, Fedora was a sandbox, RHEL was for the enterprise, and CentOS was meant to provide insights for the RHEL release. Now CentOS Stream provides the upstream version of RHEL as it is being created. CentOS Stream can be considered the new sandbox for enterprise RHEL.

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