Red Hat, Inc announced the general availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9.2 and the forthcoming availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.8. These new releases further Red Hat’s efforts to simplify and streamline complex Linux platform tasks across the hybrid cloud, from datacenters to public clouds to edge deployments, helping IT teams to better overcome staffing and skill shortages and improve efficiency in critical infrastructure areas.
According to IDC’s report “Worldwide Server Operating System Environments Forecast, 2022-2026: The Public Cloud Shifts the OSE Market into Overdrive,” Linux operating system environments will grow from 78% in 2021 to 82% in 2026 across the hybrid cloud (physical, virtual and cloud deployments). To Red Hat, this indicates that the need for comprehensive Linux infrastructure skills and capabilities will not only go away, but will become even more critical as these environments grow in complexity.
Linux automation everywhere
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9.2 and 8.8 continue to expand the capabilities of system roles, Red Hat Enterprise Linux-specific Ansible content that helps bring greater consistency and efficiency at scale by automating common administrative tasks. This means that a number of common Linux roles, from Microsoft SQL Server to virtual private networks (VPNs), can be readily configured, credentialed and deployed with rudimentary Linux knowledge. System roles also help future-proof deployments by making upgrades less disruptive, as the automated nature makes it easier to reconfigure any of these functions.
The latest releases extend these roles with the addition of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux system role for Podman, Red Hat’s tool for developing, managing and running containers on Linux platforms. Creating a Podman instance normally requires knowledge of the command line, but this system role enables administrators to automate configurations that fit their specific environments. This includes the ability to deploy pre-integrated, production-ready container workloads across Red Hat Enterprise Linux hosts, helping Linux admins extend their skills to maintaining container infrastructure.
Additional Red Hat Enterprise Linux system roles updates include expanded capabilities around Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Active Directory. This includes the automation of SQL Server/Active Directory authentication, Always-On availability group support and support for SQL Server 2022.
Operational consistency across the hybrid cloud
Red Hat Enterprise Linux helps IT organizations basing hybrid cloud operations on a single, “gold” operating system standard through image builder. Image builder simplifies the creation of standardized operating system images optimized for a variety of environments, from public clouds to the edge, while maintaining adherence to overarching IT controls and policies for system security and compliance. New in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9.2 and 8.8 is the ability for the tool to include organizational-specific security policies in created images, such as those defined by a given OpenSCAP security profile or for more securely provisioning edge devices
Image builder also now supports the creation and sharing of Red Hat Enterprise Linux blueprints, both inside and outside of the datacenter. Blueprints provide a framework for specific, standardized operating system images, which can then be consumed by image builder as a specification. This helps to drive internal image standardization, even for disconnected or air-gapped Linux systems. IT teams can also use this capability to further external collaboration with partners, end users and open source communities around Linux configurations that meet unique challenges.
Beyond image builder, the Red Hat Enterprise Linux web console helps further drive IT security and compliance policy enforcement across the hybrid cloud. The console enables administrators to perform a variety of configuration and management tasks from an intuitive browser interface.
The web console now includes the ability to configure automatic encrypted disk unlocking on root filesystems using network bound disk encryption (NBDE). This helps protect data at rest and is now open to a much wider range of Linux skills, where previously it required expertise in command line parameters. Admins can now also use the web console to select frequently used combinations of system-wide crypto policies, which helps keep all associated systems in line with various compliance and organizational-specific needs.
Powering containerized innovation
With containerized applications powering much of the next wave of software innovation, IT organizations must now manage and maintain containers at an exponentially-increasing scale. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9.2 and 8.8 both include enhancements to Podman to help bring order to potential container sprawl, starting with the ability to track container creation events, both manually and as part of an automated workflow. This helps maintain a full view of system activity, especially in environments that require regular audits.
Podman now also supports custom container health checks, which enables IT administrators to automate remediation and mitigation when a container becomes unhealthy. This means that containerized applications in remote or edge environments, even those with intermittent connectivity, can still maintain consistency with centralized operations.
Expanding architectural options
The latest versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux add support for 64k page-sizes for Arm architecture, opening up an even wider array of Arm-based, certified hardware for Red Hat customers. This expanded set of hardware options makes it easier for organizations to choose the underlying architecture that best fits their unique needs, even for those running memory-intensive workloads.
Enhanced Red Hat Enterprise Linux Lifecycle offerings
Red Hat continues to listen to customer needs when it comes to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux support lifecycle. IT organizations now have two new lifecycle management options for supported enterprise Linux:
Enhanced Extended Update Support, available for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9 and later, entitles systems to receive software updates for up to four years after the general availability of the respective minor update.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Extended Lifecycle Support (ELS), which will be available for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.9, supports continuity after the 10 year Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 lifecycle end-of-maintenance. The extended lifecycle period runs from July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2026. Red Hat encourages customers to use this extended support offering to plan migrations to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 or 9, which can be done as part of existing subscriptions.