Red Hat's cloud strategy appears focused on retaining existing customers, not attracting new customers.
There's little argument that Red Hat is the undisputed leader in the enterprise Linux market by the measure that counts most: revenue. However, Red Hat's position as the leading Linux vendor for cloud workloads remains in dispute at best, and far from reality at worst. All signs point to Ubuntu as the future, if not current, leader in the Linux cloud workload arena.
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First, data from the Ubuntu User Survey [PDF] decidedly points to Ubuntu's readiness for mission-critical workloads, with more than 60 percent of respondents considering Ubuntu a viable platform for cloud-based deployments.
Second, statistics taken from Amazon EC2 and synthesized by The Cloud Market clearly point to Ubuntu's leading position against other cloud operating systems in EC2 instances today. With these facts in hand, one could have expected Red Hat to take steps to grow Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) adoption in cloud environments. In fact, Red Hat's Cloud Access marketing page makes a bold claim:
Red Hat is the first company to bring enterprise-class software, subscriptions, and support capabilities all built in to business and operational models that were designed specifically for the cloud.
However, Red Hat announced a program in which existing customers or new customers willing to purchase at least 25 active subscriptions of RHEL Advanced Platform Premium or RHEL Server Premium could deploy unused RHEL subscriptions on Amazon EC2. With the minimum support price of $1,299 for RHEL Advanced Platform Premium and a minimum of 25 subscriptions, the price of entry is $32,475. Well, you'll actually need at least 26 subscriptions, so you can move subscription No. 26 to Amazon EC2 with full 24/7 Red Hat support. As such, the price of entry is $33,774.