Open Source Clouds: Linux Distributions Choose Sides

Red Hat, Canonical (Ubuntu) and SUSE already compete in the Linux market. Now, they'll increasingly compete in the cloud computing world. Both SUSE (owned by Attachmate) and Ubuntu are getting cozy with OpenStack, the open source cloud standard initially promoted by Rackspace and NASA. On the flipside, Red Hat is marching forward with its own cloud standards, though Red Hat insists those standards will be open and community-developed.

No doubt, cloud computing is a hot topic at this week's Red Hat North America Partner Summit in Miami. I'm hoping for an update soon from Red Hat North America Channel Chief Roger Egan. So far, the Red Hat cloud strategy includes such components as:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) running Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV), which leverages KVM (kernel-based virtualization), an open source standard.

  • DeltaCloud, a standard API effort that will allow partners to move applications between private clouds and public clouds. I'm not sure of DataCloud's status but here's some background.

  • OpenShift, which is Red Hat's platform as a service (PaaS).

  • CloudForms, which represents Red Hat's infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

  • Gluster, an open source storage solution that Red Hat is acquiring.

Yes, Red Hat's business has momentum. In its Q2 ended August 31, Red Hat's revenues rose 28 percent to $281.3 million. Now , Red Hat is on track to become the world's first $1 billion open source company.

Still, Red Hat and its channel partners face intense cloud competition. Many software companies and IT service providers are aligning with OpenStack, the open source cloud standard. Canonical shifted Ubuntu Linux's cloud focus from Eucalyptus to OpenStack earlier this year. And today, SUSE announced an OpenStack-based cloud infrastructure solution. Known as SUSE Cloud, powered by OpenStack, the effort is focuses on an open source appliance. SUSE Cloud, Attachmate claims, is hypervisor agnostic, operating system neutral and available as a developer preview now. SUSE previewed the cloud software earlier this month at the BrainShare conference in Salt Lake City (see video).

Now, here's the irony:

  • Generally speaking, Talkin' Cloud believes Red Hat has stronger enterprise momentum with CIOs than SUSE and Ubuntu.

  • But generally speaking, Talkin' Cloud believes OpenStack enjoys growing brand identity, especially among ISVs and emerging cloud service providers.

In other words, Red Hat's cloud showdown against OpenStack, backed by SUSE and Ubuntu, should remain very intense for months -- and perhaps years -- to come.
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