Red Hat program certifies partners to put Linux on cloud

Amazon Web Services is the first to join a program to ensure that Red Hat-based applications will run safely and reliably

Red Hat has launched a new partner program to make sure its enterprise Linux and JBoss software are core components of a cloud-computing infrastructure and to guarantee that Red Hat-based applications will run reliably and safely in the cloud.

The new Premier Cloud Provider Certification and Partner Program unveiled this week certifies cloud-computing providers to offer applications and infrastructure based on Red Hat software, including RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) and JBoss Java middleware, according to Red Hat.

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Amazon Web Services, which already has a technology partnership to run RHEL as part of its EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) offering, has signed on to become the first Red Hat Premier Cloud Provider Partner.

Red Hat considered the various constituencies interested in cloud computing -- end-users and independent software vendors among them -- and decided to set up a new program to work with cloud-computing providers to serve them all, said Mike Evans, vice president of corporate development at Red Hat.

Different Red Hat customers have different interests and needs when it comes to the cloud, he said. Enterprise customers want to know that their applications that run on Red Hat in their own data centers will run safely and reliably in the cloud, while ISVs want to ensure that the applications they've built can be extended to the cloud without too much hassle, Evans said. Red Hat believes that it serves both by ensuring that companies providing cloud-computing infrastructure can handle the technical and logistical complexities of transferring Red Hat-based applications to the cloud, Evans said.

Although Red Hat unveiled the new program this week, it won't reveal the specific requirements of the program until August, when it also will reveal other partners, he added.

Through the program, Red Hat will work with cloud-computing infrastructure providers to technically enable customers to move RHEL and JBoss subscriptions from their in-house environments to the cloud, Evans said. The company also will help technically enable by-the-hour, pay-as-you-go versions of RHEL and JBoss, and provide joint technical support with the cloud-computing provider. Red Hat wants to ensure customers will get the same level of support from Red Hat after moving applications to the cloud that they do before the move, Evans said. Red Hat also will plan coordinated marketing and sales efforts with its Premier Cloud Provider Partners, he added.

Currently, there are a handful of large companies in the cloud-computing market -- Google, Rackspace, Verizon, IBM, Salesforce.com, and Microsoft among them -- but he anticipates there eventually will be 50 to 100 cloud-computing providers when all is said and done.

"I call this the 'goat-herding' phase of cloud computing," he said. "It's the wild West right now. We're trying to bring some sanity and safety [to the market] and give customers more options."

The list of cloud-computing providers is still being decided, so the move for businesses to take their applications to the cloud is still in the early stages of adoption. While the recession has slowed the move to cloud computing, analysts expect the market for cloud-based IT services will continue to grow. Research firm IDC predicts that spending on cloud-based IT services will reach $42 billion by 2012 and account for 25 percent of IT spending growth that year.

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