Red Hat Reinvites Startup Piston Cloud To Conference, Waives Sponsorship Fee

Red Hat, after uninviting OpenStack startup Piston Cloud Computing on Friday from a conference it's holding in April, has had a change of heart.

"We made a mistake, and this decision was not properly vetted within Red Hat," a spokesperson for Red Hat said Friday in an email. "We apologize to the vendor, and look forward to welcoming them to Red Hat Summit as our guest."

[Related: Red Hat Kicks OpenStack Startup Piston Cloud Out Of Upcoming Conference ]

Brian Stevens, executive vice president and CTO at Red Hat and a member of the OpenStack Foundation's board of directors, tweeted an apology to Piston Cloud Co-Founder and CTO Josh McKenty, and said Piston won't have to pay the $13,000 sponsorship fee for the event.

Sponsored post

josh hope you and will still join us at summit as our sponsor. gratis. we messed up. thanks for calling us on it.

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Red Hat is holding its Red Hat Summit in San Francisco from April 14 to 17. The Raleigh, N.C.-based vendor bills the event on its website as "a premier open source event for the enterprise IT industry" that can help attendees "use open source technology to your business advantage."

On Friday, Red Hat canceled the sponsorship without explaining why. According to The Register, Red Hat pulled Piston Cloud's sponsorship because it was upset over losing a valuable contract to the San Francisco-based startup, which sells a software appliance aimed at removing complexity from setting up and scaling OpenStack-based private clouds.

McKenty confirmed that this happened in an interview with CRN, but declined to name the customer. "We are supporting a very large customer running OpenShift [Red Hat's cloud Platform-as-a-Service] on Piston, and that's a customer Red Hat felt they should have won," McKenty told CRN.

While the OpenShift customer would have been a big win for Red Hat, the fact that it's running the PaaS on Piston's cloud software takes a lot of the steam out of the marketing opportunity, said McKenty.

Piston, which emerged from stealth in 2011, has signed up many large customers thus far, including enterprises, telcos and government agencies. Piston Cloud has a "tight" partnership with Pivotal and is the only OpenStack player certified to run on its Cloud Foundry Platform-as-a-Service, McKenty said.

One key to Piston Cloud's success has been working with a wide variety of other vendors' products, McKenty said. "We're not vertically integrated," he told CRN. "People don't like being told what to use."

NEXT: Sign That The Issue May Not Be Settled

Bryan Turbow, founder and CTO of BroadCloud, a Las Vegas-based firm that partners with Piston Cloud, said he's not surprised that Red Hat would be threatened by Piston Cloud.

"Piston is a serious operating system that can be secured and scaled for enterprises and highly secure environments," Turbow said in an email. "It also embraces open-source benefits and has strong stability and scaling capabilities."

McKenty, who is also a member of the OpenStack Foundation's board, said he enjoys working with Red Hat in the OpenStack community and has a lot of respect for what it has done with Linux.

That said, Red Hat "failed every time they’ve tried to do something outside Linux" and has shown a tendency to copy things that Piston Cloud is doing in features and pricing, he said.

"They've done everything but actually copy our products," McKenty told CRN.

While Red Hat's apology would seem to have settled the matter, that may not be the case. In a tweet, Krishnan Subramanian, director of OpenShift strategy at Red Hat, claimed that Pivotal kicked Red Hat out of its Cloud Foundry Conference last September because it didn't want a PaaS competitor there.

Subramanian took issue with the lack of media coverage of this and suggested that Red Hat was called out when Pivotal wasn't. Pivotal couldn't be reached for comment.

Question to press: Why didn’t you guys calls out when PlatformCF refused sponsorship by OpenShift?

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