Calling it one of the most significant announcements in its short history, Red Hat has unveiled Red Hat Network, an Internet-based subscription service that will deliver open-source software innovations, upgrades and security features direct to developers and users.
Some of the key features of the network, which will be part of all Red Hat service offerings by December of this year, include: customisable update management services that keep systems secure during rapid open-source development cycles; use of Red Hat's RPM Package Manager for packaging source code into source and binary forms; and a number of support services from experts across the open source community.
"The Red Hat Network is a connection between the user's machine and Red Hat, where customers can receive a managed stream of innovation coming down the pipe. They also have access to a variety of management services such as security, performance and system health monitoring," said Paul McNamara, vice president of products and platforms at Red Hat.
With some functional similarities to the online database jointly announced by IBM, Microsoft and Ariba earlier this month, the Red Hat Network will serve as a central warehouse where developers can register information on their hardware and software systems, enabling other developers to better pursue joint projects.
McNamara feels the network will serve as a platform for the exchange of open-source components, a way to "process" those raw materials into something that is useful and available to the entire community.
McNamara said, as updates become available, developers with an interest in particular updates are automatically notified. Customers are then given a range of choices as to how they want to receive those updates including declining it, downloading it for the purposes of evaluating it later, or installing it on a server or desktop system directly from the network.
The first major component of the network will be its software delivery and updates feature, is to be released soon.
Developers will be able to create subgroups such as, being able to put all of their file and print servers in one group and their Web servers in another. This makes it easier to apply patches and upgrades to a particular subgroup. Companies can also manage an entire subgroup from a single image, according to McNamara.
"If you have 1,000 geographically dispersed file and print servers, you can manage them as a single image," he said.
The company will also announce next week a 60-day free trial of the Red Hat Network, available through www.redhat.com, that will include access to directory services, outbound user notifications, an automated stream of open-source software and access to community support forums.
Subscription services begin at $US9.95 a month for individuals, and peak at $US500 per system, per year for large businesses.