Red Hat has ben making steady progress toward what is shaping up as a fairly interesting cloud strategy. Building on their Deltacloud API abstraction layer and their CloudForms IaaS software, a hybrid cloud model is starting to emerge. Add to this their OpenShift PaaS system, and you can see that Red Hat is assembling a lot of key components. Let’s add the fact that Red Hat has gotten very involved with OpenStack, providing an interesting dynamic with CloudForms.
Red Hat is the enterprise king in Linux (RHEL), strong in application servers (JBoss), and has a lot of very large customers. Their VM environment, RHEV (aka KVM) won’t displace VMware in the enterprise space any time soon, but it is pretty interesting in the service provider space.
Red Hat’s community open source model will be very appealing to the market. In fact, any of the OpenStack distro providers should be at least a bit worried that Red Hat might leapfrog them. With their OpenStack move, CloudForms is being repositioned as a hybrid cloud management tool. Now their competition in the future might be more along the lines of RightScale and enStratus. What I’ve seen so far of CloudForms shows a lot of promise, though it’s still pretty immature.
Red Hat is pushing a message about “open clouds” – which is less about open source than it is about avoiding vendor lock in with cloud providers. That’s something that CloudForms is intending to address. It’s also why OpenShift has been released as an open source project (Apache 2.0 – yay) that can be deployed on other clouds and non-cloud infrastructures.
The big opportunity, IMO, is for Red Hat to go very strong on the OpenStack path for IaaS (e.g. release and support an enhanced Red Hat distro), really push their OpenShift conversation vs. Cloud Foundry based on their ability to drive community (along with it’s deep integration with JBoss), and move CloudForms further up the stack to a governance and multi-cloud management framework (their messaging on this is not very strong). It’s this model of openness – any cloud, any app, that will make their “Open Cloud” vision a reality.