Red Hat Inc’s acquisition of Netscape security technologies from America Online Inc has given it the platform it needs to move forward its Open Source Architecture with new projects, according to its VP of engineering.
It’s not just about directory services or security alone, Paul Cormier told the audience at the Raleigh, North Carolina-based company’s analyst day. What that gives us now is the ability to tie all these pieces together.
Cormier was referring to the company’s Open Source Architecture, which includes not only the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system but also additional products such as Red Hat Application Server, the Red Hat Developer Suite, and Red Hat Network Provisioning Module, among others.
The Netscape directory server and certificate management system will be added to the architecture, and will provide common services across the architecture as well as enabling new projects such as stateless Linux.
Stateless Linux does not work without network-wide security, without a directory service, Cormier said of the company’s project to enable network-based diskless deployment of the Linux operating system, for example to a lap top or blade server. We just bought two of the last pieces into the architecture to enable us to do that, he said. It really brings us ahead in this architecture by maybe two or three years.
Stateless Linux functionality will be added to Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux family during 2005, probably in an interim release to Enterprise Linux 4 due to its reliance on directory services. The current roadmap sees Enterprise Linux 4 released in the first quarter of 2005 with directory services added mid-release.
The company is also planning to add server virtualization functionality to the Open Source Architecture with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5. Virtualization right now with regard to Linux is the next big thing, it’s the next evolution of the operating system opening up many more possibilities, said Cormier.
Red Hat currently partners with EMC Corp subsidiary VMware Inc for its virtualization technology, but the indications are that the company will turn to open source virtualization projects that will be tightly integrated into the Open Source Architecture.
Virtualization is one of the big areas coming into this ecosystem, said Cormier. I know you see a lot of solutions out there trying to do virtualization by bolting it on to the side of Linux. It’s just not going to work; it’s too embedded in the operating system.
He continued: We typically don’t get asked by our customers ‘go build me a virtualization solution’. What happens more often now with our customers is they say: ‘I’m watching the development going on with Xen or UML [User-Mode Linux] in the virtualizations space, do what you did in the operating system for that, commercialize that’.
Xen is an open source virtual machine monitor project for x86 systems from the University of Cambridge, UK’s Computer Laboratory, while User-mode Linux is a patch for the Linux kernel that enables virtual machines.
Cormier said the ability of Red Hat to capture the innovation of the open source community and work with that community to bring it to market was key to why Red Hat would continue to take open source projects and commercialize them.
Innovation is happening at an unbelievable rate. From concept to commercially ready, in the course of a year and a half to two years, he said. To get virtualization technology that will be commercially ready in a year, year and a half from now; that’s the power of open source: it’s the development process.