Windows Azure Plus Open Source: Should Red Hat Worry?

Windows Azure Plus Open Source: Should Red Hat Worry?

windows-azure-red-hat-cloudAt first glance all is well at Red Hat. The open source and Linux darling continues to gain momentum with channel partners. But The VAR Guy wonders: Should Red Hat be worried about Microsoft's Windows Azure -- and the growing list of open source applications set to run in Microsoft's cloud?

First, let's give credit where credit is due: Red Hat is the rare open source company to diversify beyond a single cash cow (Linux) and push into new revenue markets -- in this case, middleware and virtualization.

Heck, most privately held open source companies struggle to do one thing well. Red Hat is a publicly held, profitable open source specialist doing three (or more) things well. And in the channel, Red Hat has been busy building and expanding alliances with Synnex (and the Open Source Channel Alliance) and Tech Data (with the Open Tech effort).

Investors seem impressed: As of Dec. 1, Red Hat shares (RHT) were trading near a 52-week high. Even The VAR Guy owns a few Red Hat shares (less than 100, actually).

Still, the Microsoft threat remains very real. Here's why.

WAMP vs. LAMP Clouds

Within corporate settings, Microsoft has been fighting LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) with WAMP (swap out Linux for Windows Server).

A lengthly list of open source ISVs eagerly support Windows Server -- including SugarCRM and MySQL. In fact, roughly half of SugarCRM deployments involve Windows servers.

Now, Microsoft is looking to repeat that success in the cloud with Windows Azure. And once again, open source ISVs are lining up to support Azure. Heck, even Ruby on Rails now apparently runs on Microsoft's cloud platform.

Red Hat has warned customers and partners about potential Windows Azure lock-in. So far, ISVs don't appear to be heeding that warning.

Of course Red Hat has its own cloud strategy. Instead of building its own cloud, Red Hat has been busy certifying third-party cloud providers as official partners. But should Red Hat get busy and build its own cloud -- especially as open source ISVs leap onto Microsoft's cloud?

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