With its two latest releases, Red Hat makes good on its previously stated plans to extend open source out of the data center and across the entire dev stack.
Red Hat OpenStack Platform 8 and Red Hat Cloud Suite provide contrasting methodologies for building and delivering hybrid cloud apps on open source infrastructure. Cloud Suite is an all-in-one package of Red Hat's cloud technologies. OpenStack Platform, meanwhile, adds value and ease of use with both Red Hat and third-party hardware.
Making the hard part easy
OpenStack is complicated to deploy and maintain, so Red Hat and other third-party vendors tout ease of use and management as selling points. As Matt Asay pointed out, Red Hat's mainstay is to simplify complex technology (like open source infrastructure apps) for enterprise settings.
Red Hat's previous incarnations of OpenStack were built with this philosophy in mind, and the current version ramps it up. Upgrading OpenStack components, long regarded as thorny and difficult, is handled automatically by Red Hat's add-ons. CloudForms, Red Hat's management tool for clouds, comes as part of the bundle, providing yet another option to offset OpenStack's management complexities.
OpenStack has been trying to solve these problems as well, as shown with its most recent version, code-named Mitaka. It features tools like a unified command line and a more streamlined setup process with sane defaults. But Red Hat's OpenStack uses the previous Liberty release, so it will be at least another release cycle before the changes find their way into Red Hat's work.
Red Hat also has been trying to sweeten OpenStack's pot via a strategy explored by several other OpenStack vendors: hardware solutions. Red Hat and Dell have previously partnered to sell the former's OpenStack solutions on the latter's hardware. The latest generation of that partnership provides yet another means of putting OpenStack into more hands: the On-Ramp to OpenStack program.
All of this is meant to broaden OpenStack's appeal and to make it more than the do-it-yourself cloud favored by a few large companies and telcos. (OpenStack Platform 8 has "telco-focused preview" features.) As Asay noted, while individual OpenStack customers are large, the overall field remains smally because for many enterprise customers, OpenStack looks like too much of a solution for not enough of a problem. That didn't start with Red Hat, and so far it's unlikely Red Hat alone can change that.
A three-piece Suite
For that reason, Red Hat isn't depending on OpenStack alone, as its second big release today, Red Hat Cloud Suite, shows. It's aimed at a broader, and likely more rewarding, market: Those building cloud applications with containers and who want to concentrate on app lifecycle rather than the deployment infrastructure.
Cloud Suite also uses OpenStack, but as a substrate managed through Red Hat's CloudForms software. On top of that is the part users will deal with most directly: Red Hat's OpenShift PaaS for managing containerized applications in Docker. (OpenShift got high marks from InfoWorld's Martin Heller for being "robust, easy-to-use, and highly scalable.")
CloudForms treats OpenStack as one of many possible cloud layers that can be abstracted away. To that end, the apps deployed on OpenShift can run in multiple places -- local and remote OpenStack clouds, Azure clouds, and so on. This part of Red Hat's strategy for hybrid cloud echoes Google's ambitions, in that it allows the user to work with open source software and open standards to deploy apps to both local and remote clouds.
OpenStack was regarded as the original method to pull that off. While Red Hat hasn't abandoned OpenStack, its focus remains narrow. Cloud Suite, due to its flexibility and emphasis on applications rather than infrastructure, seems likely to draw a broader crowd.