Update: On 16 September 2020, an additional presentation was made to the Foreman Community which highlights some new timeframes for Satellite 7. I’ve updated the article below to reflect these changes.
On 18 June 2020, Dana Singleterry of Red Hat Product Management gave the following presentation to the Foreman Community, discussing Red Hat Satellite 7 and 6.8. There are big caveats in the presentation in terms of roadmap plans and dates being subject to change, but as a Red Hat Satellite user you’ll find some of the information very useful as you plan your upgrades. I jotted down some the notes from the presentation below (if I’ve missed anything out or something is incorrect, feel free to leave a reply at the end of the article!). The full video is here:
Dana then presented again to the Foreman Community on 16 September 2020, and highlighted some changes to the Satellite roadmap:
The latest data (June 2020) shows that there are close to seven thousand Satellite servers checking in with Red Hat. The majority are at 6.6 (around 2000 servers) followed by 6.5 (almost 1500 servers) and then 6.7 (at around 1000 servers). I’m guessing that the majority of customers wait for a point release following an update before they upgrade. Link: https://youtu.be/7QE5cVlX4uM?t=187
Before delving into the future, Dana went over some of the features in the latest version of Red Hat Satellite. Released on 14 April 2020, Satellite 6.7 fixed 421 bugs and resolved 1280 support cases in 819 accounts. Highlights:
- Satellite 6.7 includes Cloud Connector – the ability to remediate servers from the Red Hat Insights portal using Satellite as a ‘gateway’ to your servers. Further details are noted at Now available – Red Hat Smart Management Updates for Satellite 6.7. Talking of Insights, if you’ve not looked at it recently then it’s worth another look as additional reporting is now available including those for vulnerability, patch and drift.
- Subscription Watch removes the enforcement of entitlements from Satellite as well as adding bilateral reporting so customers can right size their subscription consumption. Further details: Getting Started with Subscription Watch
- Satellite 6.7 gives 24 times better performance when acting as a dynamic inventory for Ansible Tower/AWX.
- It’s possible to launch cockpit components such as a web-based console from the Satellite UI.
- In terms of provisioning, Satellite 6.7 supports Azure, AWS and Google Compute.
- There is now an improved tuning assistant – see https://www.redhat.com/en/blog/red-hat-satellite-67-performance-improvements
All details are subject to change. Due October 2020 the following features are potentially in scope:
- Align with Foreman 2.1
- IPv6 Support (predominately requested by telco customers) – including provisioning, patching, configuration management
- Support upgrading Satellite and Capsules independently (useful if you have multiple Capsules). For example, allow Satellite 6.8 to communicate with Capsules on 6.7. Improved automation of the upgrades when you have many Capsules
- Support Ansible Modules to manage Satellite. (Currently around 14 customers use Community modules in an unsupported model, these will now get included into Satellite with full support). The modules will also available via the Ansible Automation Hub. See also Foreman Ansible Modules v1.0.0 released
- UEFI Provisioning improvements
- LEAPP integration – to help with RHEL 7 to RHEL 8 upgrades
- Puppet 7 (Satellite will skip Puppet 6, straight to version 7 as it’s a long term support release ).
- Traces, now fully supported. Allows administrators to see if a client has received a kernel update and therefore requires a reboot. (The documentation for Tracer in Satellite 6.7 can be found here)
- Reporting engine documentation improvements
Due around Red Hat Summit 2021 (13-15 April 2021), the main highlights are as follows. (Remember, this is not guaranteed and subject to change!):
- Alignment with Foreman 2.3
- Enable Red Hat Insights by default
- Simple Content Access (formally known as Relaxed Enforcement) with Subscription Watch. Allows both the customer and the Red Hat team to ‘true up’ consumption of subscriptions.
- Some improvements to the system purpose feature.
- Support of 6.8 Capsules (so you can upgrade them to 6.9 later)
- Pre-work for Puppet removal begins
Due around Fall 2021, the main highlights are as follows.
- Alignment with Foreman 2.5
- Migration from Pulp 2 to Pulp 3 and removal of MongoDB. A good win, but quite a complex task!
- Performance benefits of Pulp 3
- Significant changes to the content publication workflow based on PatternFly 4
- Simple setup experience (Insights Connector / Point of Presence). Helps broaden the open hybrid cloud integration, lightweight connectivity to a customer’s fleet of hosts provided by a SAS offering.
- Satellite continues to run on RHEL 7
- Some removal of puppet support (eg puppet content type is removed in Pulp 3)
- Satellite 6.10 will be supported for 24 months (or maybe 30!) rather than 18 months and is the last in the Satellite 6 series. Allows customers that want to wait until Satellite 7.1 to do so, and time to move away from Satellite’s Puppet server.
- Support of Capsules on 6.9 (running Pulp 2) so you can gradually move them 6.10 (running Pulp 3) over time.
- Foreman hooks removal, replaced by web hooks
Due around Red Hat Summit 2022 (April/May 2022), the main features are hoping to be as follows. (Remember, this is not guaranteed and subject to change!)
- Alignment with Foreman 2.7
- Seamless upgrade. As it’s based on the same projects (Foreman, Pulp, Candlepin) as Satellite 7.0, the upgrade path should be more well understood. Ideally minimal downtime. (Although see the note on RHEL 8 below)
- No puppet – migrate configuration management functionality that would have been done by puppet over to Ansible. If customers want to use an external puppet (eg Puppet Enterprise) source they can still do so. Puppet facts and reports from this external source can be forwarded to Satellite.
- Satellite will not serve as the External Node Classifier (ENC).
- Simple content access – will be the default. Related to Subscription Watch, goal is to remove the pain around subscription management (eg servers may migrate between on premises and cloud environments and you may need to manually move subscriptions around). The default in Satellite 7.0 will have this flexibility switched on by default. However, customers can opt-out of strict subscription management if required. See What are the benefits of Subscription Watch for more info.
- Insights Points of Presence. A simplified installer for Satellite and simplified configuration for remote execution.
- Satellite 7.0 Servers and Capsules will run on RHEL 7 and RHEL 9
- Satellite 7.0 will be able to support Satellite 6.10 Capsules
- Upgrade to Pulp 3, Postgresql is the database
- Removal of QPID and MongoDB
- Alignment with Ansible Tower and improved connection to cloud servers
- UI refresh and workflow improvements
- No katello-agent – Remote Execution (REX) agent will replace it
- Satellite installer will still be based on puppet (may move to Ansible in the future)
- Running Satellite on RHEL 8 will likely be introduced later, in Satellite 7.1 (Fall 2022)
Red Hat Satellite 6.7 – Deprecation Notices. Documentation from Red Hat regarding future Satellite releases.
Very interesting! Nice to see that Puppet will not be part of Satellite 7.0 anymore. Also very excited to see Pulp3 – I guess performance will be significantly better with one database only. #RedHat #Linux https://t.co/xCkOtLZMuZ— Christian Stankowic (@stankowic_devel) June 19, 2020
Dana mentioned hybrid cloud many times, so it’s likely that functionality in this area will improve beginning in Satellite 6.8. It sounded to me as though many Satellite customers are now adopting cloud at a faster pace than they were previously. Similarly, customers want to be able to manage edge devices – the ability to provision, patch, manage and report on millions of devices at scale – and they are hopeful that Satellite can be the tool to do that.
I remain a big fan of both Foreman and Satellite and am really looking forward to Satellite 7.0. Ansible’s low barrier to entry and large community has really seen it take off, and with Red Hat purchasing Ansible it’s not hard to see why Puppet has been removed from the core product. Of course, if you have a lot of puppet code there are a few options such as switching to Open Source puppet, moving to Puppet Enterprise or migrating the code to Ansible. If you do stick with Puppet, it’s nice to know you can use a native puppet dashboard for reports and facts or forward them to Satellite.
The removal of MongoDB is a welcome one and I’m looking forward to seeing the improved workflows in the UI, especially around content management. It will be interesting to see how upgrades from Satellite 6.10 to 7.0 are handled especially if you also have the option to go from RHEL 7 to RHEL 9 as part of that process. If you were running Satellite 6.2 on RHEL 6 there was a migration procedure for moving to Satellite 6.3 on RHEL 7, so so I am guessing the upgrade approach will be similar. Either way, exciting times ahead for Satellite users!