Enterprise Linux Log

Sep 11 2009   5:20PM GMT

What I learned at the Red Hat Summit

Leah Rosin Leah Rosin Profile: Leah Rosin

To pay homage to the many schoolchildren around the country in the process of relaying what they did on their summer vacation, I thought I’d share what I did last week at the Red Hat Summit with you.

To start with, you can watch most of the Red Hat Summit keynotes and some of the sessions via the video page from Red Hat. This will give you a taste of the large ballroom sessions, and what angle Red Hat’s executives and guest speakers were promoting. Sadly, DreamWork’s Derek Chan’s presentation on how the animation giant is using Linux and Red Hat to render massive 3-D movies isn’t available. The big themes overall were the power of collaboration through open source, interoperability, cloud computing, and meeting business needs faster.

RHEL 5.4 and Satellite 5.3 released, but where is RHEV?
The big news at the Summit was the open availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.4. But what was missing was the package of virtualization management tools, referred to as Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) for servers and for desktops that are slated to be released “later this year.” The release of Red Hat Satellite 5.3 was also announced, and how the new RHEV tools and Satellite will play together remains to be seen. Brian Stevens, CTO and Vice President of Engineering, said that the two are largely complementary and Red Hat will focus on integrating functionality going forward, providing a seamless experience for the end-user. We’ll look forward to seeing all the features of the RHEV release, which Naveen Thadani, Red Hat’s Senior Director of Virtualization explained would be best suited for those who want turn-key virtualization management.

Red Hat Catalyst Partners
The Red Hat Catalyst partner program was launched on the first day of the event, and was seen by some as an effort to appease the unhappy ISV’s who along with some VARs have complained that Red Hat doesn’t “get” partner programs. But at the show the vendors I talked to relayed their satisfaction and enthusiasm for the new program and the promise it offers for codevelopment and packaging of ISV offerings. Some shared with me that in the meeting with partners, when complaints were aired, Red Hat execs pointed to the Catalyst program in their response. It is clear that the company is hoping this initiative will resolve some of the woes of the past – and the partners can do nothing more than be hopeful as well.

The exhibit hall featured many partners displaying their products and I got one to provide a quick demo of their software. Trusted Computer Solutions has created Security Blanket a Linux security product that locks down the operating system and automatically configures it to meet industry standard and customized security requirements. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 and 5 are supported (as well as CentOS 4 and 5, Oracle Enterprise Linux 4 and 5, Fedora 10 and Solaris 10).

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/F0rJVWUjZK8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Performance tuning and other lessons from the sessions
After a hectic day of press conferences and appointments with various representatives of companies in attendance, I had the chance on Thursday to sit down and listen to some of the session presentations. Red Hat has made some of the session slides available online, including the slides for the back-to-back performance tuning session.

With 131 slides, it is safe the say that Red Hat engineers John Shakshober and Larry Woodman were a bit ambitious, and they didn’t quite get through their deck in the session. But if you are really interested in learning more they provided a lot of good example tools and on slide 128 they provide a list of good resources to check out to learn more about performance tuning. I asked some attendees if they got out of the session what they had wanted. They said that unfortunately, for their high performance computing application that it wasn’t all that relevant, but they had learned some new information and tools that might be helpful. I asked if they couldn’t get Red Hat support to help them with their HPC performance questions and they told me that honestly, they “hadn’t had much luck with that.” I was a bit confused: if you pay for the support, yet you don’t get good help with the support, what’s the point? “Compliance.” So just curious – readers, have you had similar issues? Why do you pay for support licenses on your servers when Fedora is available with no fees?

I also sat in on “Unmatched Security is Manageable” by Spencer Shimko, senior security engineer, Tresys Technology, about using open source system management tools to configure, monitor, and update the security configuration of Linux systems. He covered the open vulnerability assessment language (OVAL), and OVALDI (OVAL + interpreter). I won’t go into too much detail, but we should have a tip on using the language in SearchEnterpriseLinux.com soon.

On Wednesday I sat in on a session on using iSNS to simplify iSCSI management presented by Shyam Iyer, a development engineer senior analyst from Dell and Mike Christie a software engineer at Red Hat. In the manage and secure “What’s Next” track, this presentation discussed how storage management can be simplified with a plug-and-play environment for iSCSI SANs. Iyer discussed the new features being built into the open source storage name service. He also answered a couple questions from attendees regarding how iSNS and iSCSI will fit in a virtualized environment and the differences between it and DNS. The iSCSI network will fit on virtualized guests the same as it would on a hardware environment, explained Iyer. And in the same way that you can have a primary and secondary DNS, you can have a primary and secondary iSNS.

Overall, the summit provided a great opportunity to see and hear about what businesses are doing with RHEL, and learn more about what the future will bring. Our news contributor, Pam Derringer, has written specifically about some of the examples and case studies that we hope you find interesting and useful. If you feel like you missed out this year, next year’s summit will be in Boston, Mass., and perhaps it won’t be scheduled opposite VMworld.

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