Red Hat aims for enterprise OpenStack deployment dominance

Red Hat Enterprise Linux integration could ease OpenStack adoption, but complexity and cloud competition stand in the way

Red Hat's long been one of the big go-to outfits for deploying Linux in the enterprise. Now, after its announcements at the OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong this week, it's angling to move up a level and become synonymous with deploying OpenStack in the enterprise, too.

OpenStack, an open source infrastructure for creating private cloud environments, has much of the same aura of an open source success story as Linux did. Its major corporate backing distinguished it from the competition posed by rivals (in this case, CloudStack and Eucalyptus), and it enjoyed the release of a new major point revision of the product earlier this year.

But OpenStack is still a sprawling, complex product that takes patience and hard work if you want to wring results from it. It doesn't offer the kind of out-of-the-box cloud experience the likes of Amazon have striven to deliver, which has translated into a good deal less corporate adoption than its developers and boosters (who are often one and the same) would like. Still, those difficulties have only encouraged Red Hat to double down on its efforts to get OpenStack into the enterprise.

Red Hat's plan to tame OpenStack

Could Red Hat tame OpenStack in the way it made Linux into a genuinely deliverable product, not just a technology with a fun name? Its Hong Kong announcements make it sound that way, as it described several steps toward making OpenStack more of an integral part of Red Hat's existing product family.

First step: Provide better management tools. To that end, Red Hat's integrated OpenStack with the new version of Red Hat CloudForms (3.0), its system for managing public, private, and hybrid clouds. Setup and deployment of OpenStack resources can be done automatically through CloudForms, meaning there's one less command line to monkey with when you want to provision or retire instances.

Second step: Do something about the way OpenStack handles storage. OpenStack has three distinct storage components: one for managing system images (Glance), one for block storage (Cinder), and one for object storage (Swift). Red Hat has consolidated management for all of those under Red Hat Storage Server, so you can now treat them as you would any other storage object managed by Red Hat Linux. (Red Hat's Unified File and Object Storage technology for Storage Server was actually already built on top of OpenStack's Swift.)

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