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Overview of Red Hat Subscription Management

Updated 2014-10-27T19:05:34+00:00

Introduction to Red Hat Subscription Management (RHSM)

RHSM is the primary subscription management service provided by Red Hat. It enables customers to leverage the full value of Red Hat subscriptions, provides hosted and on-premise tools for subscription status and management, and integrates with Red Hat’s system management tools.

Red Hat Subscription Management is the replacement for Red Hat Network Classic. RHSM is an end-to-end solution with status, inventory, organization, and reporting for Red Hat subscriptions via a hosted web-interface accessed from the Red Hat Customer Portal, an on-premise application, system-level agents, and geographically dispersed content delivery. Additional system management capabilities and access to Red Hat Network Classic are available with Red Hat Satellite integration.

Red Hat Subscription Management delivers increased value to customers with easier, more efficient access and management of Red Hat subscriptions. Customers benefit from improved ability to track subscription usage (specific subscriptions to specific systems), refinement of how content is consumed, and improved portability of the subscription across physical, virtual, or cloud based deployments.

Specifically, Red Hat Subscription Management helps organizations achieve four primary goals:

  • Raising effectiveness by improving how subscriptions are applied.

    • Red Hat Subscription Management maintains dual inventories of available subscriptions and registered Red Hat systems, with clear associations between them.
    • This system-to-subscription mapping makes it easier for IT administrators to apply appropriate subscriptions to systems because they have a view of what is in the inventory and what each system is currently subscribed to.
  • Lowering costs and streamlining procurement.

    • While under-subscribing systems increases risks of audits and issues with compliance, over-subscribing systems can create a significant impact on IT budgets.
    • Red Hat Subscription Management helps to use subscriptions more efficiently, leading to lower costs.
  • Maintaining regulatory compliance.

    • Red Hat Subscription Management helps track subscription assignments and contract expiration, which helps administrators manage both systems and software inventories in accordance with their regulatory policies and requirements.
  • Simplifying IT audit-readiness.

    • Having a central and clear inventory of current subscriptions and systems, IT administrators can monitor and report on their infrastructure better.

Availability of Red Hat Subscription Management

Although subscription management was primarily established on Red Hat Enterprise Linux all Red Hat products are expected to be integrated with Red Hat Subscription Management. Red Hat Subscription Services is available for systems using Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (5.7 or later) and 6 (6.1 or later). Red Hat products built-on, added-on, or layer-on Red Hat Linux distributions benefit from Red Hat Subscription Management.

Design of Red Hat Subscription Management

With Red Hat's commitment to open source software, Red Hat Subscription Management is focused on delivering tools that help our customer monitor their software/systems inventory and their utilization of their subscriptions. Unlike licensing strategies, Red Hat Subscription Management does not enforce or restrict execution of Red Hat products. Red Hat Subscription Management uses secure certificates for system, subscriptions, and products to uniquely inventory registered systems and the subscriptions and products used by that system.

During the installation of a Red Hat product a product certificate is installed on the system. When that system registers to Red Hat Subscription Management a system certificate is placed on the system. And finally, when that system subscribes to the product through Red Hat Subscription Management an entitlement certificate is placed on the system. Red Hat Subscription Management is now able to display to the user the registered systems, subscriptions in their account, and where those subscriptions are being used. In addition, Red Hat Subscription Management is able to query the system’s attributes, such as, the number of sockets and Operating System architecture, to evaluate if the subscription attached is the proper subscription the customer should use, thus increasing the probability of proper content delivery. For complete information on the use of Red Hat Subscription Management please see the “Red Hat Subscription Services Guide”.

Red Hat Subscription Management components:

Red Hat Customer Portal Subscription Management
Red Hat Subscription-Manager
Red Hat Subscription Asset Manager

Red Hat Subscription Management allows customers to manage multiple system via a hosted interface from the Customer Portal or an on-premise interface from Subscription Asset Manager. The customer may also choose to manage each system independently through the on-premise system interface of Subscription-Manager. In addition, Red Hat Subscription Management integrates with Red Hat Satellite an advanced system and content management system (please see Red Hat Satellite for more details):

Customer Portal

By default, customers manage their Red Hat subscriptions in the award-winning Red Hat Customer Portal. Through a convenient web interface hosted by Red Hat, the product description, subscription expiration date, and system attributes can be viewed, as well as, the inventory of all purchased subscriptions and registered Red Hat systems can be managed. Software content is delivered through a high-performance, regionally distributed, and secure content delivery network (CDN) for improved performance and reliability. When using hosted registration all systems within the inventory are contained in one group.


Red Hat Subscription-Manager is an on-premise, system agent that offers both GUI and command-line interfaces to manage the local system and its allocated subscriptions. Subscription-Manager is included in current RHEL 5 and RHEL 6 distributions. Subscription-Manager connects the customer’s system to the content and subscription services hosted by Red Hat Customer Portal or Subscription Asset Manager.

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Subscription Asset Manager

Subscription Asset Manager is an on-premise subscription management application running inside the customer’s infrastructure. Entitlements from the customer’s account are exported to Subscription Asset Manager via a manifest from the Customer Portal thus allowing the customer centralize control of the subscription assets. Subscription Asset Manager can define independent groups, called organizations, that systems and users can be granted access to. Although Subscription Asset Manager controls the entitlements locally, Red Hat content is still provided by Red Hat's hosted Content Delivery Network (CDN) with Subscription Asset Manager serving as a gateway.

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Value to Customer

Red Hat Subscription Services easily integrates into a customer’s standard operating procedures and assists in several related management processes that together create a comprehensive, end-to-end subscription management solution. In addition, see “Value of Red Hat Subscription Management”.

  • Assists in the management of subscriptions

    • Provides a 24x7 web interface that allows customers to self-manage the purchase or renewal of subscriptions
    • Provides hosted and on-premise solutions so customers can organize their enterprise to manage subscriptions locally and independently if desired.
    • Enables Subscriptions to works in physical, virtual, and cloud environments
  • Assists in the management of entitlements

    • Enables customers to self-manage the attachment, removal, and reuse of entitlements to specific system
    • Provides automated assignment of a subscriptions
    • Helps customers with many virtual guests track subscriptions per host virtualization
    • Enables Red Hat virtual guests in environments managed by Red Hat or third party virtualization solutions
    • Assists in the management of content delivery
    • Provides for the delivery and notification of content, updates, and errata
    • Reduces the risk of delays in access to new and updated content
    • Supports predefined deployments
  • Assists in the management of reconciliation activities

    • Enable customers to assess the current status of their subscriptions
    • Provides display of accurate inventory and utilization information
    • Generates asset reports containing product subscription and support level information
    • Provides a single point of reference for audit-readiness and reconciliation


Red Hat Subscription Management provides top-level subscription status dashboards (depicted below), as well as, subscription and system inventory views, individual subscription status views, and reporting capabilities. For more information please contact your Red Hat Sales contact or please see the reference section at the end of this document.

Customer Portal Dashboard

Subscription-Manager Dashboard

Subscription Asset Manager Dashboard


  1. Documentation and Articles
    1. Benefits of Red Hat Subscriptions
    2. Benefits of Red Hat Subscription Management
    3. Red Hat Subscription Management Guide