Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Red Hat Enterprise MRG: Red Hat, Customer-Driven Innovation, and Open Source Leadership

Red Hat has shown that open source is one of the best ways to bring customer-driven innovation and leadership to the market. Today’s announcement of Red Hat Enterprise MRG provides a perfect example of this in many respects.

Spreading the Message of Open Source and Open Standards

Red Hat Enterprise MRG includes Red Hat’s implementation of AMQP-based ( Advanced Message Queuing Protocol) enterprise messaging. Both the MRG Messaging implementation and AMQP itself highlight Red Hat’s leadership and customer-driven innovation.

Red Hat is developing its AMQP messaging implementation in various open source projects and communities. One of the most notable aspects of these communities is that there are many messaging users from financial services and other industries contributing major pieces of code. These users are working to make sure that this messaging implementation will meet their specific needs when they ultimately consume it as customers. The results of this collaboration are noteworthy: MRG Messaging provides breakthrough features and performance and can reach durable messaging throughputs two orders of magnitude higher than other solutions.

Open source developers are not alone in recognizing the value of collaborating with others. The AMQP working group, of which Red Hat is a founding member, is developing the AMQP specification to be an open, interoperable standard for messaging. This particular working group is especially effective because its membership contains not only technology companies but also many end-users of messaging technology—including several investment banking giants. Of course, all contributions in the AMQP working group are valuable, no matter who provides them. But, AMQP is developing into a broadly accepted standard in many ways because there are so many end-users working to ensure that AMQP meets their own needs. Truly, this is customer-driven innovation.

Deterministic Success

In 2005, Red Hat began working on its realtime kernel technology in response to a request by the US Navy for the DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer project. Red Hat engineer, Ingo Molnar, developed a realtime patch set which brought highly deterministic response times to the Linux kernel. However, Red Hat did not just release a product around this work. Instead, Red Hat has been working and continues to work with the Linux community to bring this realtime technology into the upstream Linux kernel. To date, Red Hat has incorporated about two-thirds of its realtime code base upstream and is working to push the rest of this code upstream. One notable recent achievement was the acceptance of Ingo’s Completely Fair Scheduler (CFS) into the mainline kernel this summer.

Why is Red Hat working so hard to push its realtime work into the mainline kernel? By having features implemented upstream, these capabilities “carry forward” into future versions of the kernel, so MRG Realtime has the product longevity that proprietary realtime extensions do not.

Trying to support extensions to Linux that are not accepted upstream is a losing battle. Red Hat recognized this long ago and thus pursued the long task of writing realtime extensions and pushing them upstream. Sure, this is hard work. But, at the end of the day, Red Hat will be in an optimal position to support this technology for the long term, since Red Hat wrote and led the work upstream.

Broad-Scale Innovation

Red Hat Enterprise MRG’s High Throughput Computing and grid capabilities are based on the Condor project created by and hosted at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. First developed in the late 1980’s, Condor has been under continuous active research and use and possess features and capabilities that far exceed those of any commercial, proprietary grid product. However, Condor has not seen significant industry usage to date because it does not provide all the enterprise features, manageability and supportability that customers require. For example, one of the first pieces of work Red Hat performed on Condor was to break it up from one large, statically linked program into separate RPM packages that are robust, manageable, upgradeable and can be discreetly patched.

Red Hat and the University of Wisconsin have signed a unique partnership around Condor. Under this agreement, the University of Wisconsin will release Condor’s source code under an OSI-approved open source license so that Red Hat may include Condor in its open source distributions, and Red Hat will jointly fund and staff Condor development on-campus at the University of Wisconsin.

Condor has a large community of users and researchers in the academic space. Through its agreement with the University of Wisconsin, Red Hat will be able to bring this innovation from academia to the enterprise. Furthermore, Red Hat and the University of Wisconsin will work to strengthen Condor with additional features and enterprise strength and also enhance Linux for High Throughput Computing to the benefit of both scientists and enterprises. Red Hat believes that this will lead to great advances in infrastructure technology and a great partnership between industry and academia. This is the best kind of customer-driven, open source innovation of all: one that not only advances technology but improves the way we do things.

For more information on Red Hat Enterprise MRG, see here.


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