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Red Hat Plays Its Trump Card

This is where Red Hat gets to play a card that only Microsoft can match

Red Hat made its power play Wednesday. One it's been itching to make for a couple of years. One that it hopes will ultimately jam a stick through the spokes of VMware's front wheel. And to make sure that happens it'll be telling everybody who'll listen that its widgetry is a third the price of VMware's vCloud.

This is where Red Hat gets to play a card that only Microsoft can match - its operating system, commonly known as RHEL - and create a tightly integrated cloud platform by fusing RHEL with OpenStack, the open source cloud computing software.

The move came as a one-two punch consisting of a kit called the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform and another called Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure that deliver the company's essential vision of an Open Hybrid Cloud.

Both kits get users to a Red Hat version of an OpenStack-powered cloud - at this juncture the OpenStack Grizzly release - and both will be available as a single subscription whose pricing has yet to be detailed although Red Hat did run up this nice bar chart comparing the cost of its widgetry to VMware's and did say it was finally delivering "cloud for the price of virt" like it's been saying it would:

Oh, yes, and it said its OpenStack license would include an unlimited number of RHEL guest licenses.

Anyway, Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, a long-winded and not exactly memorable moniker, integrates RHEL with Red Hat OpenStack so clients can build a private or public cloud. It's targeted more at cloud resellers like telecom companies, service providers and public cloud hosting outfits.

RHEL runs the compute nodes, storage nodes, controller nodes and guest VMs.

Red Hat promises to mind the operating system and the OpenStack code so users can concentrate on adding value in the service layer, tooling and customizations they need on top of the OpenStack Platform.

Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure, on the other hand, is for the company that wants to build a private Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) that'll run traditional applications as well as emerging cloud-aware applications under a single-pane cloud management system.

Red Hat sees it as a go-at-your-own-pace on-ramp to the cloud based on data center virtualization and management technologies for traditional workloads.

"Organizations," it says, "are faced with the challenge associated with managing the long-term shift from traditional data center virtualization to more cloud-enabled architectures, as well as charting the course for moving their application workloads from one architecture to another while maintaining manageability and policies across discrete platforms."

That being the view the package includes Red Hat's KVM virtualization for Linux and Windows workloads; Red Hat's CloudForms hybrid cloud management system, which works with Red Hat VMs, VMware vSphere and other virtualization solutions, hypervisors and platforms; and then of course OpenStack integrated with RHEL for the guest virtual machines running on the OpenStack compute nodes.

CloudForms, which now incorporates the ManageIQ technology Red Hat acquired in December for $104 million, offers features like chargeback, self-service, advanced monitoring, metering and orchestration.

Ultimately, Red Hat sees Cloud Infrastructure users moving at least some of their workloads to a public cloud and that public cloud could at this point be Amazon or one based on Red Hat OpenStack.

Red Hat's got a new Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) 3.2 release of its KVM hypervisor that'll support the new x86 chips like Intel's Haswell family as well as live storage migration of running VMs from one domain on a storage device to another without having to take the VMs down, and third-party plug-ins. NetApp's got one; so has Symantec and HP.

Red Hat claims RHEV 3.2 is competitive with VMware.

Both Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform and Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure will be available next month.

Red Hat has provided for training and certification and is putting together an ecosystem that already has 100-odd partners and thousands of hardware, software and service solutions. Red Hat is at pains to make the cloud easily consumable.

The OpenStack part of the widgetry will be swapped out more frequently than the system's more mature Linux and KVM foundations. Red Hat expects to lag the OpenStack community, but figures because of the 100,000 projects that feed into its various products its pace of innovation will be faster than any Microsoft cadence.

Red Hat president, products & technologies Paul Cormier, the mastermind behind all this strategic widgetry, expects users will be running proofs-of-concept for the next six to 12 months, with only a few going to production.

The company said in a press release that it "will be working with a small set of pilot solution provider and systems integration partners in select geographies, with plans to expand the number of partners and geographies over time with partners who can deliver a total solution with Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform and Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure."

It would seem then that Red Hat has taken the point with OpenStack.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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