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Red Hat Enterprise Linux Gains ARM Support on AWS

The move comes a year after Red Hat Enterprise Linux itself enabled ARM support based on interest from enterprises.

Todd R. Weiss

November 29, 2018

4 Min Read
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Red Hat has updated its Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system to run on ARM systems atop Amazon EC2 A1 instances, giving business users more options for running their critical workloads.

The new Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) for ARM Amazon Machine Images (AMI) that enable the new capabilities on EC2 A1 instances arrive about a year after the company first unveiled ARM support for its flagship RHEL operating system.

Built with Red Hat Enterprise Linux as its base, the new offering can be managed using Red Hat Satellite and automated through Red Hat Ansible Automation in hybrid-cloud environments, while using the same tools, commands and options users get with existing RHEL production systems,the company said.

A major reason for the ARM support on AWS is to give business users more choices in how they want to configure and run their IT environments, Scott Herold, senior manager for Red Hat’s multiple architecture group, told Channel Futures.

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Red Hat’s Scott Herold

“We’ve been working on ARM development for the better part of eight years trying to drive it in the ecosystem,” said Herold. “We’ve always had demand in certain areas for ARM,” including in High-Performance Computing (HPC) and Electronic Design and Automation (EDA), which involves silicon design for processors.

“We first did our RHEL for ARM release last November,” said Herold. “We were always waiting for that break for enterprises to take an interest in ARM.”

That got more momentum due to Amazon’s expanding cloud architecture, he said.

“With a partner like Amazon, that was the first real push that will fundamentally shift the market. It will drive ISVs to the market.”

One important thing business customers want to see is that their code will still work on ARM hardware, just as it did on x86 architecture, said Herold.

Over the last few years, there have been ups and downs in terms of feedback and interest in ARM from customers, he said. In the past year, customer feedback about the idea has been more positive and the market appears to be ready for the offering, he added.

“There have been questions about if the ARM market was mature enough yet,” he said. “Qualcomm left the ARM market from an enterprise server standpoint earlier this year.”

For customers who have been investigating ARM on RHEL on AWS on their own, the new product will help them reach their IT goals, he said.

To help drive ARM use on AWS, Red Hat has been working with SUSE, Microsoft and the ARM collaboration group, Linaro, to create standards that will ensure that when someone builds an ARM system it will be able to work with all the operating systems as required, he said.

“We realized we needed to standardize ARM to be successful.”

As ARM technology grows in this latest phase and businesses adopt it more widely, the industry will start to see ISVs move toward the technology, predicts Herold.

“VMware and Oracle, have announced their interest so far. We’re going to watch their announcements very closely,” he said.

Initially, the latest version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (7.6) will be available for Amazon EC2 A1 instances, but in the future, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 for ARM Beta will be made available for businesses that want to test ARM architecture on public clouds without specialized equipment.

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Dan Kusnetzky

Dan Kusnetzky, principal analyst of the Kusnetsky Group, said the move to include ARM processors on AWS for RHEL makes sense for business users.

“Server power consumption and heat production are increasingly important today, not just processor performance,” said Kusnetzky. “ARM-based servers offer desirable power consumption and heat-production characteristics that operators of modern data centers find useful and interesting.”

Amazon’s new 64-bit ARM server-based services are one example of that, said Kusnetzky.

“Google has endorsed ARM-based servers as well. While these servers don’t offer the single-processor performance of some of Intel’s most powerful offerings, they can effectively provide multi-processor performance that is suitable for many tasks. Red Hat wants to be the key supplier of system infrastructure software for those systems,” he said.

About the Author(s)

Todd R. Weiss

Todd R. Weiss is an award-winning technology journalist who covers open source and Linux, cloud service providers, cloud computing, virtualization, containers and microservices, mobile devices, security, enterprise applications, enterprise IT, software development and QA, IoT and more. He has worked previously as a staff writer for Computerworld and eWEEK.com, covering a wide variety of IT beats. He spends his spare time working on a book about an unheralded member of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, watching classic Humphrey Bogart movies and collecting toy taxis from around the world.

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