It has been nearly six months since Red Hat has released Red Hat Enterprise 6 (RHEL 6). Red Hat engineers have been keeping busy over that time, working on the RHEL 6.1 release that hit general availability today.
With RHEL 6.1, Red Hat is expanding hardware platform support, virtualization features and introducing new identity technology as a tech preview.
"One of the key themes of RHEL 6.1 is hardware enablement," Tim Burke, vice president of Linux Engineering at Red Hat, told InternetNews.com. "We have been working with hardware vendors to have RHEL 6.1 prepared and ready for the upcoming generation of hardware."
Burke added that RHEL 6.1 includes lots of improvements for scalability and reliability as well as improved networking capabilities with 40 GbE, iSCSI and FCoE support.
"We've also made improvements in operational flexibility with enhancements in the systems scheduler to more efficiently use the latest generation of CPU's, as well as improvements in the developer and compiler toolsets," Burke said. "This is really a very broad sweeping release with a lot of enhancements across the board."
One of those enhancements comes in the form of new support for the automatic failover of virtual machines and applications.
"Now that we high-availability of KVM virtualized guests, the upcoming version of RHEV (Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization) will have an easy GUI configuration that system administrators can use to setup high-availability failover on virtualized guests," Burke said.
Red Hat is also speeding up network connectivity in RHEL 6.1. Burke explained that there are new capabilities in new hardware that provides for multiple interfaces for the same physical device.
"You can bind a channel or a subset of the physical bandwidth to a CPU," Burke said. "The main benefit there is you avoid context switching or interrupt handling."
For virtual machines RHEL 6.1 has also improved the efficiency of networking.
"The way we have done that is we have moved the majority of the network packet handling out of userspace and it is now optimized in kernelspace," Burke said. "Depending on workload, that can yield a five percent performance enhancement."
RHEL 6.1 also includes a technology preview of Red Hat Enterprise Identity (IPA) services. IPA is based on the open source FreeIPA project which has been part of the Red Hat sponsored Fedora Linux project since 2008. IPA provide identity and authentication services.
Burke noted that Red Hat does not productize technology until it is enterprise ready. Now that developers have been working on IPA for several years, Red Hat is ready to label it as a technology preview to enable its enterprise customers to try it out.
IPA in RHEL 6.1 is an important incremental step as Red Hat grows its enteprise management initiatives.
"We have made improvements in the speed of DNS resolution and have the ability to integrate with active directory," Burke said. "Having things like a directory service in place is going to be foundational prerequisite for some of our upcoming systems management intiatives."