Red Hat targets the enterprise

Trying to hasten its acceptance among enterprise users, Red Hat on Tuesday will roll out its first series of Linux-based operating environment products aimed specifically at corporations that plan to migrate away from other non-Linux versions of Unix.

The first product to be available as part of the company's Enterprise Platform Series is the Red Hat Advanced Server, which will feature improved management capabilities along with better performance, availability, and scalability features.

"In the past we had Red Hat Linux as a one-size-fits-all from kids in dormitories to enterprise users. But with Advanced Server we are building on that base release with features required by enterprise users and software developers, including clustering and system management features," said Paul Cormier, Red Hat's executive vice president of engineering.

Red Hat officials hope the new series can sway users to move from Unix-based operating systems offered by Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. that they claim are more expensive to buy and maintain.

"We see enterprises speeding up their move away from expensive, proprietary Unix and going towards Linux," said Matthew Szulik, Red Hat's CEO.

Backing up his claim that products such as those in the Enterprise Platform Series are less costly to maintain, Szulik pointed to a recent total-cost-of-ownership analysis by market research firm IDC. That report showed Linux reduces per-user costs by 50 percent in Internet-intranet environments compared to those in a Unix environment and lowers costs by 75 percent in collaborative computing environments.

At a New York press conference on Tuesday, 22 software developers -- including Oracle Corp., Veritas Software Corp., SAP AG, Tibco Software Inc., and Borland Software Corp.-- are expected to give the Enterprise Platform Series their approval, and user companies such as Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. Credit Suisse First Boston Corp., and UBS Warburg LLC will promise to implement it.

Some of the new features of Advanced Server, which is based on the 2.4.9 version of the Linux kernel, include the Red Hat Cluster Manager, which allows for high availability, fail-over configurations, and data integrity. The product also has an updated process scheduler and supports eight IA-32 processors, input-output lock contention, and bounce buffer elimination.

The product has a Java-based Web console for cluster node management, automated security, and performance updates from the Red Hat Network.

Red Hat also will make available some time this year the Advanced Workstation version of the product aimed specifically at users involved with more technical and workgroup-based applications.

"We are designing the Enterprise series to provide ISVs with all the tools they need so they can more rapidly migrate their applications to an enterprise-level Linux environment," Cormier said. "We believe this is the version ISVs will certify their applications on," he said.

Advanced Server will include a one-year subscription to the Red Hat Network, which provides users with a set of managed services, secure configurations, asset management, and centralized maintenance.

Pricing on the Advanced Server starts at US$800 per server.

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