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Red Hat's Cormier later told CRN that a lot of proprietary infrastructure companies will have a real hard time moving to the cloud because of how much the cloud depends on open source.
"Look at VMware," he said. "I don't mean to bash them. But, they bought [software-defined networking developer] Nicira, which is built on open source KVM. How will they deploy it? Via ESX?"
Cormier said Red Hat's only real competition in building public clouds is Microsoft.
"It's really us and Microsoft who have all the pieces to build complete clouds," he said. "But Microsoft is proprietary. And while VMware has the management software, it doesn't have the infrastructure stack. No operating system, no middleware, and no real PaaS platform."
Cormier also noted that with VMware, applications still run on operating systems and not on a hypervisor. "In the end, VMware has to run apps on RHEL [Red Hat Enterprise Linux] and Windows. VMware has a hardware ecosystem like ours, but they don't have their own ISV or application ecosystem."
Bryan Che, senior director and general manager of Red Hat's Cloud Business Unit, said that all public clouds are built on open source technology except Microsoft's Azure.
"VMware is used for private clouds," Che said. "And if a cloud is built on VMware, there's still a lot of open source in it. Amazon, Google and IBM clouds are all built on open source."
Red Hat is a big supporter of the OpenStack open source infrastructure-as-a-service project, but Che said that OpenStack is by no means the only open source route to building open clouds.
OpenStack's primary differentiator is its broad base of contributors and corporate sponsors, Che said.
"Even VMware is a member," he said. "It's the combination of that and the support of the open source community that gives it so much traction."
Red Hat is not planning to offer products as a part of the Eucalyptus or CloudStack clouds, Che said. "But they are committed to working with us," he said.