Red Hat Linux Advanced Server, slated to ship in April, is designed to entice many companies based on Unix to make the switch to Linux running on Intel-based servers, the company said.
The Raleigh, N.C., company first demonstrated the Advanced Server at LinuxWorld in January and said at that time it would ship in May.
The server operating system, which was endorsed by more than 20 enterprise applications companies and financial services companies at the launch here, features high performance, fail-over support and two-node clustering via Red Hat's Java-based Cluster Manager.
The Advanced Server also features support for asynchronous I/O, an improved process scheduler and support for up to eight-way SMP systems.
Red Hat Advanced Server also gained endorsements on Tuesday from major server vendors IBM, Compaq Computer and Dell Computer.
It is not clear how big the channel opportunity is for Advanced Server. Red Hat plans to offer global 24x7 support and capitalize on the services requirements needed by customers. The price starts at $800 per server and increases depending on the level of value-added services needed, the company said.
Analysts say the launch is a major salvo fired at Unix, and perhaps, unintentionally, at the open-source community in control of the Linux kernel development.
"It is a major gambit on the part of Red Hat to accelerate its growth with Linux into the large enterprise. Red Hat wants to creep up into the food chain where Solaris exists now and make users more aware they can [get better economies of scale with an open-source operating system. It'll be significant warfare," said George Weiss, a vice president with research firm Gartner, who believes Unix will remain viable for some time to come. "Their target is clearly aimed at Unix, not Windows, and it's a message that says Unix is drying up because it can't achieve the cost economies that Linux can and that the Unix model will be obsolete soon."
The debut of the Advanced Server, which incorporates many features not yet incorporated in the Linux kernel, may also cause some tensions with Linux creator Linus Torvalds and his crew because it shows a commercial vendor vastly leapfrogging the de facto establishment of Linux kernel development, Weiss said.
"Red Hat is essentially coming out with its own kernel and is taking over improvements to Linux prior to being officially approved in the [Linux 2.5 kernel release. They're making changes ahead of what is approved by the Linux [kernel maintainers," Weiss added. "It's building a little bit of tension there."
Linux channel partners nevertheless cheered the planned shipment of the Advanced Server as a major step for Linux in the enterprise and expressed hope that it will entice more customers and ISVs to switch from Unix to Linux.
"I'm glad Red Hat has been able to get the support commitment from so many enterprise ISVs, and they are doing a great job of furthering the perception that Linux is enterprise-ready," said Anthony Awtrey, vice president and director of integration at Ideal Technology, Melbourne, Fla. "I hope that we can see them continue this trend to migrate from Unix to Linux in other market segments like engineering and design. I would love to see Cadence or Autodesk products available for Linux to enable the migration of the Unix engineering workstation market to Linux as well."