3 min read

Red Hat Cloud Platform Challenges VMware, Microsoft

The beta release of OpenShift uses Amazon as a platform for building interoperable cloud workloads.
OpenShift expands on the platform-as-a-service that Red Hat acquired last November with its purchase of Makara, a startup offering an application building platform on EC2. Stevens says that Red Hat has adopted the Git deployment engine that comes out of the Linux kernel development process. Linus Torvalds wrote Git, a directory of a developer's files with a repository for tracking each version created. Red Hat offers a hosted version for joint cloud projects with multiple developers. Stevens says it can push code out to a targeted recipient as well as track source code changes, which gives developers an automated deployment tool once an application is built.

Unlike predecessors VMware, Citrix Systems, or Eucalyptus Systems, Red Hat is separating formation of private and hybrid clouds workloads from their dependence on virtual machines. Heretofore, cloud vendors have assumed the private cloud will be a heavily virtualized environment, but there is no reason it has to be. Virtualization vendors just tend to assume it will be. Red Hat is shifting the focus more toward application management, even if the application runs on bare metal--a server with nothing but the application and its operating system.

In the end, Red Hat has got it right. Cloud computing is more about applications than virtualization. As a practical matter, most implementers are pursuing the private cloud as a step toward greater efficiency and the most efficient internal servers have been heavily utilized virtual ones. In the future, the private cloud setting is likely to be a mix of virtualized and unvirtualized servers.

Before, building a private cloud with Enterprise Linux, JBoss middleware, and the KVM hypervisor required deep open source expertise or consulting services from Red Hat, Stevens admits. Now the JBoss middleware exists as an easily invoked service in the background of OpenShift application building.

The platform supports use of different frameworks, including VMware's Spring Framework, Ruby on Rails, Zend Framework for PHP, JBoss Seam, Rack (an interface for Ruby web servers), the Symfony PHP framework, and Java Enterprise Edition 6.

With Microsoft approaching cloud application development from the strength of its Visual Studio tools in the Azure cloud, and VMware approaching it from its virtual machine management, it's time for a third major option appealing to the open source corner of the universe. Stevens contends that that's Red Hat's OpenShift, available in beta with delivery of a 1.0 version to come later this year.

As a result, building workloads to run in the private cloud with the potential to move into the public cloud may have gotten a little easier. There are still miles to go before OpenShift can become the kind of generally interoperable cloud platform that Red Hat talks about. The most troubling issue is who, besides Red Hat, supports Deltacloud APIs, given the proliferation of competing APIs. But a comprehensive open source effort has got to start somewhere. Red Hat has made its best effort at launching that platform.

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek.