Red Hat, IBM Hook Up on Linux V3 for eServers
January 5, 2004 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Commercial Linux distributor Red Hat last week unveiled its Enterprise Linux V3 collection of operating systems, which it previewed back in October. In conjunction with the shipping of the new products, the company also announced pricing on the different implementations of Enterprise Linux ES and AS for servers with different processor architectures as well as a further expansion with server maker IBM.
As we reported back in October, the Enterprise Linux V3 variants for servers, clusters, and workstations all use the same Linux 2.4.21 code base across 32-bit and 64-bit Intel, 32-bit and 64-bit AMD, and 64-bit IBM Power (iSeries and pSeries) and zSeries platforms. For the past several years, different implementations of Red Hat’s Linux for these seven distinct server architectures have employed different kernel levels. With Enterprise Linux V3, Red Hat has only one code base, which makes it easier for Red Hat and customers to support Linux across multiple server platforms and for independent software vendors to create applications that run on them.
You may be wondering why Red Hat didn’t just wait to launch Enterprise Linux V3 with the upcoming Linux 2.6 kernel, which is expected to be in production in the first quarter of 2004. Linux 2.4 is very stable–just the kind of product that IT managers like to deploy in production. Only companies that need symmetric multiprocessing scalability that goes beyond eight-way machines are going to be jumping aggressively to Linux 2.6 in the new year, so Red Hat is in no hurry to get there. It would not be surprising for Red Hat, SuSE, and others to offer versions of Linux 2.6 for 32-bit Intel platforms at first, then let it settle in before rolling it out across all the other platforms.
Red Hat says that Enterprise Linux V3 has 350 enhancements into the current Enterprise Linux 2.1 release, so there are plenty of reasons to upgrade to it. There are three different variations on Enterprise Linux V3. Enterprise Linux AS is the top-end server environment with all the bells and whistles. The Enterprise Linux ES variant is a midrange platform for smaller servers. Enterprise Linux WS is for workstations. One big change for the Linux AS variant is that the clustering features that were part of the original Linux Advanced Server that was announced in May 2002 and which have been sold as part of Linux AS 2.1 have been cut out of the Linux AS 3 variant and will be sold separately as Red Hat Cluster Suite. Exactly when Red Hat will do this is unclear. The company will also debut a new tool called Red Hat Developer Suite, which is based heavily on Eclipse tools, is also due as an adjunct to Enterprise Linux V3 sometime in 2004.
The good news with Enterprise Linux V3 is that Red Hat is now charging relatively uniform and fair pricing for its Linux implementations across all server architectures. The bad news is that Enterprise Linux ES is still only available for 32-bit X86 platforms. Linux ES, which runs on uniprocessor or two-way machines and which supports up to 8 GB of main memory, is an appropriate option for entry iSeries or pSeries Power servers as well as entry servers based on 64-bit Itanium or 64-bit Opteron processors, but Red Hat wants to push these customers up to a more expensive Linux AS license. The higher prices that Red Hat is charging for 64-bit machines is going to limit the appeal of Red Hat, not of those 64-bit machines. And when it figures that out, it will offer Linux ES licenses on two-way 64-bit machines. Linux AS scales to 16 processors and 64 GB Of main memory on a single machine.
In any event, here’s how the pricing breaks down. Red Hat offers basic, standard, and premium editions of its Linuxes:
For years, IBM and Red Hat have been talking about how they were going to support each others’ products, and with Enterprise Linux V3 this seems to have finally happened. IBM says that it will support Enterprise Linux V3 on its xSeries, iSeries, pSeries, and zSeries servers as well as on its X86-based HS20 blade servers, the PowerPC 970-based HS20 blade servers, and the Opteron-based eServer 325 servers. Linux WS is going to be supported on IBM’s IntelliStation workstations, too. IBM Global Services and Red Hat are working together to give customers a single point of contact for tech support issues, much as Hewlett-Packard has done in its alliances with Red Hat and SuSE. IBM also says that it has ported some 200 of its own database, middleware, and development tool programs to Red Hat’s Linux.