Red Hat Primes ARM Server Ecosystem with Early Access Program

by Sean Michael Kerner

Red Hat doesn't yet provide full support on ARM, but it is building a robust partner program to do so.

ARM is not yet a primary target for Red Hat's Enterprise Linux server, but it will be at some point in the near future. Red Hat has grown its ARM Partner Early Access program to 35 members, including both software and silicon vendors.

"The ARM Partner Early Access Program is geared towards hardware and software vendors that are exploring the 64-bit ARM ecosystem," Red HatYan Fisher, senior principal product manager with Red Hat, told ServerWatch.

Fisher explained that for hardware vendors, the benefit of being part of the Red Hat ARM ARM Partner Early Access Program stems from the development of an open standards-based operating system that is easily consumable by the enterprise end user. The end goal is to help drive the adoption of their technologies much faster.

When it comes to software vendors, Fisher noted that given sufficient demand, vendors want to be able to offer software to their customers, regardless of the underlying hardware architecture that they may have in their data centers.

"This program allows ISVs to gain early access to stable and verified hardware and operating system combinations, creating a potential porting platform that they can evaluate in response to customer requests to port applications to 64-bit ARM architecture," Fisher said.

Fisher noted that today Red Hat Enterprise Linux has one of the largest ISV bases of all enterprise Linux platforms, making ISVs a critical participant in the ARM Partner Early Access Program. He added that a number of Red Hat's Linux ISV partners have joined the ARM Partner Early Access Program.

"Much like our hardware partners are relying on the program to speed customer adoption of their silicon and server designs, ISVs are looking at the emerging ARM ecosystem and using the ARM Partner Early Access Program to help plan their next steps when it comes to porting existing software to 64-bit ARM architecture," Fisher said. "The completion of the hardware enablement phase of the program brings ISVs one step closer to that goal."

Growing the ARM Partner Program without ARM Support in RHEL

Even though Red Hat is growing its ARM partner program, Fisher did point out that Red Hat Enterprise Linux does not currently support ARM architecture. But he added that Red Hat is evaluating productization as part of its approach to the emerging ARM ecosystem.

"As we are in the very early stages of this evaluation, we cannot comment on any specific product plans," Fisher said.

Though Red Hat doesn't have any specific product plans for ARM that the company is able to talk about, Fisher said Red Hat frequently fields inquiries from its customers about providing Red Hat Enterprise Linux support for many different architectures, including ARM.

"Even though it is considered early days for the 64-bit ARM technology from an enterprise perspective, we do have several customers that are specifically evaluating ARM-based solutions for their data centers," Fisher said. " Ultimately, this demand stems from a need for standardization on a single open platform – customers want to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux across their organization, regardless of the underlying architecture."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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This article was originally published on Wednesday Feb 18th 2015
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