Why Red Hat should fear Amazon Linux

Amazon's Linux AMI raises further questions about Red Hat Enterprise Linux's cloudy future

While Red Hat's leadership in the enterprise Linux market is without question, the cloud tells a different story altogether. Red Hat's cloud strategy has thus far focused too narrowly on customer retention, opening significant opportunities for Ubuntu to gain traction in the cloud -- and gain traction it has, according to EC2 cloud market statistics.

Now comes Amazon's Linux AMI, another threat to RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) in the cloud.

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IT decision makers considering cloud investments should understand Amazon's Linux AMI offering and its pricing versus Red Hat's cloud wares.

Amazon's RHEL-compatible Linux
At its foundation, Amazon's newly announced Linux AMI is based on CentOS, which in turn is based on RHEL.

Unlike Oracle when it announced its RHEL-compatible Linux OS, Amazon has not faced much negative press with its entry into Red Hat's market -- using an RHEL variant, no less. Perhaps this is due to Oracle's targeting of Red Hat's home turf, the enterprise, whereas Amazon is stepping onto an open playing field, one in which Red Hat has yet to establish itself against Ubuntu.

Customer interest in EC2-optimized Linux was central to Amazon's decision to move forward with this new offering:

Many of our customers have asked us for a simple starting point for launching their Linux applications inside of Amazon EC2 that is easy to use, regularly maintained, and optimized for the Amazon EC2 environment. Starting today, customers can use Amazon Linux AMI to meet these needs.

Amazon further detailed some of the benefits of using the Amazon Linux AMI versus choosing another Linux AMI available on Amazon EC2 or building one's own Linux AMI:

The Amazon Linux AMI is a supported and maintained Linux image provided by Amazon Web Services for use on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). It is designed to provide a stable, secure, and high performance execution environment for applications running on Amazon EC2. It also includes several packages that enable easy integration with AWS, including launch configuration tools and many popular AWS libraries and tools. Amazon Web Services also provides ongoing security and maintenance updates to all instances running the Amazon Linux AMI. The Amazon Linux AMI is provided at no additional charge to Amazon EC2 users.

Red Hat should be concerned about Amazon's Linux AMI
IT decision makers should note two key related points: First, the Amazon Linux AMI is provided at no charge for Amazon EC2 users beyond the service's infrastructure charge, which starts at 8.5 cents per hour. Second, AWS Premium Support covers the Amazon Linux AMI, with plans starting at $100 per month or 10 cents per dollar of total monthly AWS charges, whichever is greater.

Contrast this with Red Hat's pricing options for Amazon EC2.

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