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Overview of Red Hat Subscription Management

Updated 2015-06-26T17:56:05+00:00

Introduction to Red Hat Subscription Management

Since the initial launch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat has provided Subscription Services and Subscription Tools for its customers so they may realize the value of the subscriptions. As customer usage patterns and IT architectures have evolved, new offerings have been released, and shifts in the overall landscape has occurred, Red Hat continues to evolve its subscriptions and subscription tools to best fit the needs of a changing environment.

Red Hat Subscription Management (RHSM) is the primary subscription management service provided by Red Hat that enables customers to leverage the full value of Red Hat subscriptions, provides hosted and on-premise tools for subscription status and management, integrates with Red Hat’s system management tools, and enables greater flexibility in subscription offerings.

Red Hat Subscription Management is the replacement subscription service for Red Hat Network Classic Subscription Management (RHN Transition to RHSM). Red Hat Subscription Management is an end-to-end solution with status, inventory, organization, and reporting for Red Hat subscriptions via web-based interfaces (hosted by Red Hat or on-premise in the customer's environment), system-level agents, and geographically dispersed content delivery.

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

Early Subscriptions and Subscription Tools worked with a "pool model" where subscriptions purchased "charged-up" pools of subscription entitlements and the tools were able to provide the customer insight into: the total number of subscriptions a customer has purchased, the total number of the customer's systems that are using subscriptions, and the difference between the two numbers. This model was simple and effective at providing access to content, but had limitations, such as, an inability to link a specific subscription with a specific system or contract, which is vital to subscription management.

Red Hat Subscription Management works on the same principal but uses secure certificates to improve customers’ ability to know what subscriptions they purchased, where and how those subscriptions are being used, refine how software is consumed, and improved portability of the subscription across deployments which are physical, virtual, and cloud based.

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 an entitlement certificate is placed on the system.

Entitlement Process:

  1. Products added to System

    • Places a Product Certificates on the system to identify the product.
  2. Registering a System

    • Places a System Certificate on the system to uniquely identify the system and adds the system to system Inventory.
  3. Attaching a Subscription to the system

    • Places a Subscription Certificate on the system to identity its authorization to the datastore (make content highly available).
    • Evaluates the system's capacity (sockets, cores, etc) against the subscription and sets subscription status (RED, YELLOW, GREEN).
    • Reconciles the subscription inventory to show consumption of the subscription/entitlement from account inventory.

With the availabilities of these certificates, 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.

Red Hat Subscription Management components/interfaces:

Red Hat offers Subscription Tools included with the value of a Red Hat and/or RHEL subscription. In addition and with an additional subscription, Red Hat offers an advance management product, Satellite 6, that contains the same subscription management capabilities as the Subscription Tools, but with more system and content capabilities.

Service-Side:
Subscription Service (Candlepin)
Content Service (CDN)
Subscription Service Interfaces (Customer Portal -or- Subscription Asset Manager -or- Satellite 6)

Client-Side
System Interface (Subscription-Manager)

Red Hat Subscription Management uses a client/server architecture and at its heart is "Candlepin", the open source subscription service. A instance of Candlepin is always available hosted by Red Hat and interfaced from the Customer Portal subscription area, or, the user may chose to deploy an instance of the Candlepin service integrated into the on-premise interfaces of Subscription Asset Manager or Satellite 6. Red Hat Subscription Management provides this flexibility to meet the needs of the customer to control privacy, performance, and functionality. Regardless of the server-side interface used, these interfaces allow a customer to manage multiple systems and see the entirety of the subscriptions. In addition, the customer may also choose to manage each system independently through the on-premise client interface of Subscription-Manager

Customer Portal

By default, included with all Red Hat subscriptions is the ability for customers to manage their Red Hat subscriptions, in the subscription area, of 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 organization.

System registered to Customer Portal
System registered to Customer Portal

Subscription Asset Manager

In lieu of using Customer Portal to manage subscriptions, Subscription Asset Manager (SAM) is available (included in a RHEL subscription) as 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 or proxy.

System registered to Subscription Asset Manager
System registered to Subscription Asset Manager

Satellite 6

In lieu of using Customer Portal or Subscription Asset Manager to manage subscriptions, Satellite 6 is also available as an on-premise subscription management application running inside the customer’s infrastructure. Satellite 6 requires an additional subscription, but shares the same subscription management code-base as SAM and thus offers the same subscription services as SAM, however, Satellite provides many additional features to assist the customer's life-cycle and business process. Additionally, Satellite receives its Red Hat content from Red Hat's hosted Content Delivery Network (CDN), but provides a complete mirror and the ability to add custom customer content. For complete details see (Red Hat Satellite)

Subscription-Manager

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 subscription services hosted by either Red Hat Customer Portal or Subscription Asset Manager and to the Content Services hosted by Red Hat's Content Delivery Network (CDN). Alternately, with an additional subscription, Subscription-Manager can connects the customer’s system to the subscription and content services of Satellite 6.

System registered to Customer Portal, but using Subscription-Manager's GUI
System registered to Customer Portal, but using Subscription-Manager's GUI

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

Views

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 Asset Manager Dashboard


Subscription-Manager Dashboard


Resources:

  1. Documentation and Articles
    1. Benefits of Red Hat Subscriptions
    2. Benefits of Red Hat Subscription Management
    3. Red Hat Subscription Management Guide
    4. RHSM-RHN Feature Comparison