Red Hat, the hidden cloud company

From Deltacloud to OpenStack to a new public cloud offering, Red Hat is on a mission to accelerate the cloud while keeping it open

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You'll recall that Red Hat joined the OpenStack Foundation back in April. OpenStack is a complex set of building blocks for creating public and private clouds. While Red Hat has not announced a product based on OpenStack, the company has indicated its intent to do so as the project matures. This is a different scale of project to the previous two. It's large, political, and in my view unsuitable for most enterprise use at this stage. However, it's worth watching as it will shape the offering Red Hat and its competitors introduce to the market.

The significant news this week involves pricing for a Red Hat-managed cloud PaaS (platform as a service) offering using the OpenShift project. It's a full-featured and fully open source application platform in the cloud, based on software Red Hat acquired with Makara in November 2010. Red Hat has been running a developer sandbox called OpenShift Origin on Amazon Web Services since this spring, but this week announced it will soon be renamed FreeShift and paired with a complementary commercial service called MegaShift with a range of support, compute, and storage options for deployed production applications.

The capabilities offered by OpenShift are very much like those of the earlier and better-known Heroku, but because it's open source, OpenShift can also run on your in-house systems. Red Hat's Mark Atwood casts futher light on the remarkably open approach the company is taking as it enters the PaaS market.

There's more that I could cover. In addressing the emerging opportunity of the cloud market in all its forms -- especially IaaS and PaaS -- Red Hat has appeared to dabble in a wide range of technologies, gradually assembling a strategy from the parts as it sees the market and the projects evolve. This experimentation presents in-house enterprise developers with a wealth of opportunities to use mature open source technologies as the basis for their projects, with the assurance that Red Hat's money drives community innovation and commercial support offerings are emerging. That's something that never happened in the old world of proprietary software.

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