Cloud

Red Hat Rivals Microsoft with its Open Cloud Play

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Red Hat has very comprehensive cloud offerings spanning the entire cloud stack, from virtualization tools, operating systems, extensive middleware to PaaS, service programs, and management tools. The only other company that can truly compete is Microsoft. This is also what sets Red Hat apart from VMware — VMware has no operating system and essentially no middleware.

In June 2010, Red Hat announced Red Hat Cloud Foundations, a complete cloud package that is claimed to be an open source based interoperable cloud stack that allows customers to run their workloads in both private and public clouds. With the November 2010 acquisition of Makara, Red Hat is also making a strong play in the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) space.

Red Hat’s approach is evolutionary, one that acknowledges the mixed (or “hybrid”) nature of customer deployments that include both on-premise and cloud-based systems.

With the addition of a comprehensive PaaS component, Red Hat is closer to Microsoft in terms of depth and breadth of cloud offerings.

Red Hat’s biggest differentiator is a wide number of choices for customers to pick their choice of the following:

  • Development environment – be it JBoss, Java EE, Spring, or LAMP
  • Development language – be it PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, OCAML, C/C++, Java
  • Public cloud deployment – be it Amazon or another vendor’s
  • Virtualization platform – be it Xen, VMware, or another
  • Private cloud – Eucalyptus or cloud.com’s CloudStack

Red Hat is striking right at the heart of the lock-in issue customers have to deal with when they work with other cloud vendors. With Red Hat, customers have freedom to choose how they develop and where they deploy their applications. Of course, everything with Red Hat is 100% open source which adds yet another degree of control and freedom to customers.

Red Hat also provides core infrastructure building blocks such as RH Enterprise Linux, Network Satellite, Enterprise Virtualization and also includes system management and interoperability with Delta cloud API.

This “hybrid” cloud play using DeltaCloud is an important component of Red Hat’s strategy. With Deltacloud , customers can manage from a single management console, a heterogeneous cloud virtualization infrastructure, including Amazon EC2, GoGrid, OpenNebula and Rackspace.

Deltacloud is an Apache Foundation incubator project so it is now a full-blown open source community project.

Their hybrid strategy extends beyond just providing a consistent environment to run workloads in the enterprise data center, public, and private clouds.

It also provides consistency of licensing. Customers can easily use RH Enterprise Linux licenses in both their enterprise data centers and the cloud, which also makes it easy to migrate workloads.

Red Hat also provides tools to schedule and migrate workloads across clouds. For example, if you run out of resources during a peak demand situation, Red Hat’s MRG Grid can automatically schedule your applications to run on Amazon with appropriate policies.

Combine this with a middleware suite and PaaS, Red Hat becomes a strong contender across all the layers of the cloud stack. The middleware suite includes a portal, ESB, AppServer, BPM, rules engine, SOA registry, and much more.

With the addition of Makara, customers can now deploy, manage, monitor, right size, rollback, and scale their applications on both private or public clouds. By integrating the JBoss Enterprise Middleware infrastructure with Makara’s Cloud Application Platform, Red Hat can offer a more comprehensive PaaS solution that allows organizations to quickly transition their applications to both public and private clouds with minimal modifications.

Red Hat thus has unique comprehensive open source and flexible infrastructure and a platform that will allow enterprises, ISVs and SaaS providers to develop new applications and/or migrate existing application (leveraging their current skills and without major app refactoring) to a wide range of public and private clouds.

Overall, Red Hat’s comprehensive portfolio of offerings are a welcome addition to the cloud market providing serious choice and flexibility of open source while avoiding the lock-in of other cloud vendors.

Kamesh Pemmaraju heads cloud research at Sand Hill Group and helps companies — enterprises and technology vendors — accelerate their transition to the cloud. Follow him on Twitter @kpemmaraju.

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