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Red Hat has delivered an early Christmas present to ISVs. At a press conference Nov. 7, the leading Linux company announced that in 2008 it will release a new appliance version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.1: Red Hat Appliance Operating System.

With RHAOS, and its associated SDK (software developer kit), ISVs will be able to minimize their development and support costs by writing once for RHEL and then being able to run the application on any physical, virtual, appliance or cloud version of RHEL. The company claims that this will allow applications that are certified on RHEL to be deployed as software appliances on the broadest range of servers in the industry. With RHAOS as a virtual machine, these RHEL-certified applications will also be able to run on VMware ESX and Microsoft Windows Viridian platforms.

This is all part of Red Hat’s Linux Automation strategy, which was also announced Nov. 7. Linux Automation is meant to deliver a standardized development, deployment and management infrastructure for the entire RHEL ecosystem.

RHAOS is built from RHEL 5.1; it shares full ABI and API compatibility with RHEL 5.1. It also includes the Virtual Appliance Development Kit, which will allow ISVs to easily configure the operating system along with their middleware and applications to produce a complete system image. Brian Stevens, Red Hat’s chief technology officer and vice president of engineering, said RHAOS is RHEL 5.1 optimized for use as a VM (virtual machine). Red Hat believes that the complete package will enable thousands of existing software vendors to quickly leverage this new deployment model without extra development effort.

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