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Red Hat Enters The Cloud System Management Arena

IT industry must overcome complexity and vendor lock-in or cloud computing will fail, CEO says in keynote

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The announcement at the Red Hat Summit conference in Boston followed a keynote speech by Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst in which he warned that cloud computing is threatened by the same kinds of vendor lock-in, software complexity and “feature bloat” that has kept IT to-date from realizing its full potential.

“Cloud has the potential to be the mother of all lock-ins,” Whitehurst said, saying that having data and workloads locked up in fragmented cloud-computing resources would be worse than having then locked up in a proprietary IT system. “If we don’t find ways to address these problems, cloud is going to be -- in three or few years -- the hype that died.”

Red Hat also unveiled release 2.2 of its Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization software, adding desktop virtualization to the package that until now provided only server virtualization capabilities. The company also announced tighter links between its virtualization technology and Cisco’s Virtual Network Link technology.

Red Hat Cloud Foundations includes a range of tools for planning, building and managing both private and public cloud IT systems, said Scott Crenshaw, vice president and general manager of Red Hat’s cloud business unit, in a press conference.

Given cloud computing is in the early stages of development and adoption, Crenshaw said no one knows for sure how cloud technology will evolve and what cloud computing best practices will look like. He said that’s an argument for using Red Hat’s open-source technology rather than proprietary technology from competitors. He also said Red Hat’s software is best suited for linking on-premise data centers with public clouds.

Novell, a Red Hat rival in the Linux arena, is increasingly positioning its development, security, systems management and business services management products for managing cloud and virtualized systems under what the vendor calls “intelligent workload management.” Other competitors in cloud management include established software vendors such as CA technologies and startups like AppDynamics.

But Crenshaw said only Red Hat and Microsoft that can offer a comprehensive cloud-computing package consisting of an operating platform, middleware and virtualization software. And he said Microsoft has taken “a proprietary approach” to developing cloud technology.

The first release of the package, Cloud Foundations: Edition One, is available now and includes Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, JBoss Enterprise Middleware and Red Hat MRG (messaging, real-time and grid) software. The package also offers an implementation guide, reference architecture, consulting services and training classes.

In a follow-on interview, Crenshaw said he expects Red Hat's resellers to use Cloud Foundations to build and sell cloud-based services and help their customers manage their cloud deployments. "We want to put them back in the driver's seat," he said, noting that big vendors such as Google and Salesforce have generated all the cloud buzz.

Cloud Foundations could turn the potential disintermediation of cloud computing for solution providers into a revenue stream, Crenshaw said. He unveiled the cloud strategy to Red Hat partners Tuesday and Roger Egan, vice president for North America channel sales, said the plan was well-received.

Red Hat also said it is creating development tools and a technology roadmap for developers, including solution providers, ISVs and enterprise customers, to deploy their applications to the cloud and link them to on-premise systems. The new Platform-as-a-Service capabilities, which will become part of the next release of the Red Hat Cloud Foundation package, will be based on the JBoss Enterprise Middleware product line.

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