Cisco, Red Hat Deepen Cloud Relationship With 'Journey To The Open Cloud' Program

Cisco's Brian Allison

Red Hat and its technology partners unveiled a number of new hardware and software products expected to be available shortly, highlighted by an expanded relationship between Red Hat and Cisco.

The new relationship and new product previews were unveiled at the Red Hat Partner Conference, which was held this week in Scottsdale, Ariz.

For many solution providers, a highlight of the conference was the deepening relationship between Red Hat and Cisco, which brought up the question of how it might impact Cisco's relationship with its primary virtualization and cloud partner, VMware.

[Related: Red Hat Conference Full Of Welcome Surprises For Partners ]

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Brian Allison, director of worldwide channels and partner solutions for Cisco, told partners that his company and Red Hat have jointly developed a new go-to-market strategy called "Journey to the Open Cloud."

Allison, whose keynote at the Red Hat Partner Conference was symbolically the second-most important presentation at the event given that it followed the keynote of Red Hat President and CEO Jim Whitehurst, told partners the two vendors will shortly roll out best practices and lead generation for open clouds that will include "playbooks" and reference architectures.

Customers have a lot of choices with public clouds, including whether to build, buy or partner, Allison said.

"Cisco and Red Hat together," he said. "We're not just driving one layer here. We're driving the entire stack."

Allison also told solution providers they would have to learn new technologies as part of their journey to open clouds. "You will have to learn how to speak dev/ops, Ruby, Python, Puppet and Chef," he said.

Jerry Lumpkin, Red Hat senior director of North American channel sales, told CRN the two vendors have already identified about 30 joint channel partners that will initially get started with the "Journey to the Open Cloud" program.

"We're growing our relationship with Cisco at the highest levels," Lumpkin said.

Lumpkin characterized the new program more of a sales and go-to-market strategy aimed at helping customers get ready adopting the cloud.

"Our belief is, if we get customers talking about the cloud, they're already getting ready," he said. "This is a journey to the cloud. This isn't just jumping in."

Channel partners of both Cisco and Red Hat, however, said the relationship could actually be much deeper.

NEXT: Parsing The Increasing Depth Of The Cisco-Red Hat Relationship

Cisco and Red Hat have been deepening their relationship in the past year, said Caroline Hinton, vice president of software product marketing for Insight, a Tempe, Ariz.-based solution provider and partner to both vendors.

"Before this, the relationship between them was not as formal," Hinton said. "But this new relationship is at the senior executive level. It shows a commitment at the highest level."

Insight has brought the two vendors together in deals in the past, Hinton said. "But there's power in the message that they are coming together on this new 'Journey to the Public Cloud' program. This is more than fluff. They're looking at how to expand opportunities jointly more than if they do it separately."

Bradley Brodkin, president and CEO of HighVail Systems, a Toronto-based solution provider and partner to Red Hat and Cisco, called the new "Journey to the Open Cloud" program more than a go-to-market play.

The program goes beyond the Cisco ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) framework, which provides a way for vendors to work with Cisco on data center infrastructures, Brodkin said.

"Red Hat is not only making sure OpenStack is tied to Cisco's servers and networking, but is also plugged into Cisco's tools, which are the main reason customers purchase Cisco UCS," he said. "But I also like it as a go-to-market strategy. Having the technology doesn't mean anything unless people know about it."

James Chinn, CEO of Shadow-Soft, an Atlanta-based open-source software developer and channel partner of Red Hat that is currently building a Cisco UCS relationship, said he is "bullish" about the increasing relationship between the two vendors.

"We want to stay in front of it," Chinn said. "We're one of Red Hat's biggest partners. We're not big with Cisco yet, but we want to make that relationship much bigger. We're investing a lot of resources in this relationship and plan to help with the execution of the Red Hat and Cisco plans."

John Iacone, president of International Integrated Solutions (IIS), a Plainview, N.Y.-based solution provider and partner to both Red Hat and Cisco rival Hewlett-Packard, said it was strange to see Cisco out in force at the Red Hat Partner Conference.

"It's interesting to see how those two have become close," Iacone said. "I would have liked to have seen a bigger HP presence here."

NEXT: Sneak Previews Of New Product Intros To Come

In addition to learning about the new relationship between Red Hat and Cisco, solution providers were also given previews of other upcoming new products from IBM and Red Hat.

Bob Galush, vide president of System x high volume servers and options in IBM's Systems & Technology Group, said his company this week plans to unveil a new high-density storage appliance, the x3650, which squeezes 12 GB of capacity into a 2U enclosure.

Jim Totton, vice president and general manager for platforms at Red Hat, said version 7.0 of his company's Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is in beta and scheduled to be released this year.

Totton did not unveil any technical details for RHEL 7.0 but said that customers with existing RHEL licenses will be able to upgrade to 7.0 at no charge.

Red Hat executives said the company will also soon introduce open source tools related to business process management (BPM) technology Red Hat got with its 2012 acquisition of Polymita.

Steve Gasser, director of channel marketing for Red Hat, said in a breakout session at the conference that his company will shortly start a joint campaign with CommVault featuring that company's storage software together with Red Hat Enterprise Storage, which is based on Red Hat's 2011 acquisition of Gluster.