Configuration management and monitoring are some of the more mundane activities on the task list of any IT professional, but they are also among the most necessary. Without management and monitoring of your systems, your data center services will run less efficiently, have more downtime, and simply incur more costs. Systems management is not something you can overlook, and Red Hat Satellite is a solution worth considering.
What is Red Hat Satellite
Red Hat Satellite is an open source platform designed to make managing your network infrastructure much easier. Configuration, patch, and package management are all centralized in one application, making managing your systems easier than ever whether you have only a few servers or thousands. RHN Satellite’s user interface is top notch as well, far better than competitors such as Puppet or Chef, so it is both functional and friendly.
Red Hat Satellite System Requirements
You may be thinking that you will have to purchase some pretty hefty hardware to run your very own Red Hat configuration management product, and if so you will be pleasantly surprised. According to the latest RHN system requirements, a 2.4 GHz dual processor with 8GB RAM (4GB minimum) and 500GB of free space is enough to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux, RHN Satellite’s database, and the RHN channel repository. If you’re concerned about downtime and being unable to use your Satellite application, high availability is also an option. As for the backend database, while Oracle used to be the only choice, PostgreSQL is now an option.
As a systems administrator, you are tasked with managing ever increasing numbers of systems in a constantly changing business environment, and scalability has become one of the most important concerns when considering new network management tools. RHN Satellite is fully capable of managing over 10,000 individual systems, meaning all but the largest organizations will be free to add and remove systems from their RHN Satellite application without fear of overloading it. Puppet, its closes competitor, requires a bit more work when it comes to scaling for larger infrastructures, and adding more tasks to an already full project list is not something most system administrators will be excited about.
RHN Satellite can be used to automate deployment of one or more machines, either physical hosts or virtual hosts using a process known as “kickstarting”. Kickstarting allows you to automate an installation using a kickstart profile defining everything from network configuration to individual packages that will be downloaded on the new system(s). You can even kickstart new machines the first time they power on, no pre-configuration necessary. Kickstarting is an amazingly useful tool for creating virtual machines to test services or deploy into a production environment since the product of a finished installation will be exactly like every other already managed system.
Automated notifications are sent to individual system users and administrators whenever new patches that apply to your machines are released. These updates contain all the information you need to know about newly released patches and how they will affect your systems. Using this information, you can set groups and schedules to release the patch to all your managed systems, reboot or perform other specified actions upon completion, and set fallback options in case a patch fails.
Configuration Management and Monitoring
RHN Satellite allows you to store, push, and compare server configurations across your network. This allows you to make sure all your servers have the configurations they need, and automate changes to prevent issues before they happen. Server monitoring allows system administrators to check the health of their managed systems, identify those which have issues, and prevent or fix these issues. Both of these are indispensable when dealing with a medium or large enterprise environment.
Why Do You Need RHN Satellite
While a Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription comes with regular updates included, without true system management and monitoring there is no efficient way to standardize all your servers. Need to make sure your servers are all running the same configurations? Rather than having to check documentation or physically log in and check, you simply go to your RHN Satellite application and let it check for you. Need to update a package? Queue it in RHN Satellite and let it do the rest for you. Automating management and administration tasks will save you time and allow you to work on more interesting and pressing projects.
Information Technology is widely seen as a cost driver, not generating flashy sales numbers or gaudy profit percentages, but RHN Satellite can offer real cost savings and provide a legitimate competitive advantage to your business. Red Hat has performed extensive studies on cost savings and productivity increases for businesses using their RHN Satellite product, and their numbers are impressive :
- 37% IT Productivity Increase
- 75% Less Downtime
- $304,000 Annual Infrastructure Cost Reduction
- 38% of Customers Experienced an Average Revenue Increase of $2.9 Million
- 398% Three Year Return on Investment
Read more about the cost saving here in this whitepaper
Add to this a 6.8 month average time for the customers investment in RHN Satellite to pay for itself. These numbers are hard to ignore, and make a great case for RHN satellite being a necessary addition to any network infrastructure.
Red Hat’s RHN Satellite product offers great usability, functionality, and is relatively inexpensive. We have demonstrated how its four primary functions, deployment, patch management, configuration management, and monitoring can all contribute to increased productivity across your company’s IT division, and also shown real numbers to back up the claims. If you have a medium/large environment, or are a small shop and anticipate growth, RHN Satellite is a product that you can’t afford to do without.