Red Hat has delivered an early Christmas present to ISVs. At a press conference Nov. 7, the leading Linux company announced that in 2008 it will release a new appliance version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.1: Red Hat Appliance Operating System.
With RHAOS, and its associated SDK (software developer kit), ISVs will be able to minimize their development and support costs by writing once for RHEL and then being able to run the application on any physical, virtual, appliance or cloud version of RHEL. The company claims that this will allow applications that are certified on RHEL to be deployed as software appliances on the broadest range of servers in the industry. With RHAOS as a virtual machine, these RHEL-certified applications will also be able to run on VMware ESX and Microsoft Windows Viridian platforms.
This is all part of Red Hat's Linux Automation strategy, which was also announced Nov. 7. Linux Automation is meant to deliver a standardized development, deployment and management infrastructure for the entire RHEL ecosystem.
RHAOS is built from RHEL 5.1; it shares full ABI and API compatibility with RHEL 5.1. It also includes the Virtual Appliance Development Kit, which will allow ISVs to easily configure the operating system along with their middleware and applications to produce a complete system image. Brian Stevens, Red Hat's chief technology officer and vice president of engineering, said RHAOS is RHEL 5.1 optimized for use as a VM (virtual machine). Red Hat believes that the complete package will enable thousands of existing software vendors to quickly leverage this new deployment model without extra development effort.
Red Hat reduces complexity for ISVs, Stevens added, allowing them to develop, test and certify a solution once. Deployment is then seamless across stand-alone servers, virtual machines, appliances and Web-scale "cloud" computing environments. ISVs significantly reduce their development costs by standardizing on a single operating system—"certify once, deploy anywhere."
"Red Hat allows ISVs to bring better solutions to market faster, while reaching a broader range of customers, without the expense of porting and maintaining software on multiple operating systems," said Stevens. "Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based appliances, enjoying the full suite of Linux Automation capabilities, will enable ISVs to deliver software in a form that is significantly easier for their customers to acquire, configure, deploy and manage."
"New software form factors such as software appliances have to overcome user skepticism, including concerns over what software elements are integrated inside the appliance itself," warned Brett Waldman, an IDC research analyst for system software. "Red Hat's solution will reduce the barrier to adoption of software appliances by alleviating some of the packaging concerns, allowing ISVs to create appliances using the same processes and certifications as their other applications based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux."
RHAOS won't be available until the first half of 2008. Still ISVs who want to join Red Hat's appliance program are urged to contact Red Hat now.