The vendor-neutral cloud: How Red Hat could make it happen

The Deltacloud cloud-neutral API will benefit the broader market more than Red Hat itself by ending provider lock-in

Contrary to popular rumors, Red Hat's recent Webcast was not to announce an imminent acquisition. Red Hat instead laid out an ambitious cloud strategy, going as far as claiming that only two companies -- Microsoft and Red Hat itself -- are positioned to deliver an end-to-end cloud stack. However, the most important announcement from Red Hat may well be overshadowed by its comparison versus Microsoft Azure or its platform service plans.

Here's why IT decision makers shouldn't ignore Red Hat's submission of the cloud-neutral Deltacloud cloud API to the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) and Apache Software Foundation.

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Deltacloud sputtered under a single vendor's control

Deltacloud was announced nearly a year ago at the 2009 Red Hat summit. At the time, Brian Stevens, CTO and VP of engineering, at Red Hat described Deltacloud's purpose:

The goal is simple. To enable an ecosystem of developers, tools, scripts, and applications that can interoperate across the public and private clouds.

Today each infrastructure-as-a-service cloud presents a unique API that developers and [software vendors] need to write to in order to consume the cloud service. The Deltacloud effort is creating a common, REST-based API, such that developers can write once and manage anywhere.

A cloud broker if you will, with drivers that map the API to both public clouds like EC2, and private virtualized clouds based on VMware and Red Hat Enterprise Linux with integrated KVM.

Red Hat's approach was simple and seemingly appealing enough: Write to the Deltacloud APIs and your workloads can be ported across any cloud provider's infrastructure that Deltacloud ican interoperate with. However, the prospects of trading cloud provider API lock-in for Red Hat API lock-in wasn't an appealing prospect for potential Deltacloud adopters. Whether Red Hat's claim to be "the world's open source leader" is accurate, lock-in is lock-in.

Choosing open standards and open source for Deltacloud

So Red Hat wisely decided to contribute its Deltacloud API implementation to an independent third party, the Apache Software Foundation. By moving the implementation to an Apache Incubator project earlier this summer, the Deltacloud project is no longer saddled with the chains of a single-vendor-controlled open source project. This in turn has made it easier for multiple vendors to consider adopting and contributing to the Deltacloud project.

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