Red Hat RHEL 6.2 boosts storage capabilities

Red Hat RHEL 6.2 embraces new technologies in storage, high-availability and I/O

Red Hat has updated its flagship operating system, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, with new technologies designed to cut the cost and improve performance of enterprise storage, the company announced Tuesday.

RHEL 6.2 also offers new features to boost reliability and improve I/O performance.

"As systems get more complex, and [run] more consolidated workloads, it becomes increasingly important to be able to efficiently deploy and manage these large-scale systems," said Tim Burke, Red Hat vice president of Linux engineering.

For storage, RHEL 6.2 is the first version to fully support iSCSI extension of RDMI (Remote Directory Memory Access). This will allow organizations to achieve the throughput of a (SAN) storage area network using iSCSI disks and Ethernet. "iSCSI obviates the need for separate Fibre Channel hardware, enabling you to use commodity Ethernet channels for your storage infrastructure," Burke said. As a result, "RHEL 6.2 can be used as a storage server."

RHEL 6.2 is also the first to support, at least in a technology preview mode, parallel NFS (pNFS). pNFS is an extension of Network File System (NFS) that provides the ability to build a clustered storage system that can ingest and return data in parallel streams, potentially boosting throughput times considerably.

"The promise of pNFS is much higher scalability for NFS file serving," Burke said. "It enables more concurrency because you can have multiple hosts serving different pieces of the data simultaneously."

Also in support of parallel workloads, RHEL's implementation of the XFS file system now delays the logging of metadata, which should hasten throughput where thousands of files must be updated in a short amount of time.

For interconnecting with Microsoft Windows infrastructure, RHEL 6.2 now offers the ability to run multiple instances of Samba in a cluster. Samba is an open-source implementation of Microsoft's SMB/CIFS (Small Message Block/Common Internet File System) protocol for communicating with Windows servers.

Red Hat did not pitch RHEL 6.2 as a major release -- the last update, RHEL 6.1, was released in May. Nonetheless, the update includes a number of other technologies as well. It includes support for the faster PCI-e 3.0 internal bus as well as the USB 3.0 peripheral connector protocol.

Virtualization improvements have also been added. Those running RHEL in a VMware-virtualized environment can run their applications in a high-availability clustered configuration. A feature introduced in RHEL 6.0, called control groups (cgroups), has been enhanced to allow administrators to gain more nuanced control of how their servers are used, limiting the amount of CPU, memory or other resources any one particular user can access.

Red Hat also claims it has boosted I/O speeds on RHEL by as much as 30 percent, thanks to the adoption of some new protocols, such as the Transmit Packet Steering (XPS), which boosts cache efficiency, and Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP), which boosts transmission speeds of multi-source content.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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