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Big Red makes cloud pounce

Red Hat broadens cloud footprint with ‘innovative’ IaaS platform

Chris Mayer

Seemingly not yet set on their enterprise cloud assault, Red Hat have just released CloudForms – an IaaS embracing open source roots and hybrid setups

If you haven’t noticed, Red Hat are on somewhat of a enterprise cloud offensive at the moment. As OpenShift continues to go from strength-to-strength, they’ve decided go down the infrastructure track, announcing the availability of Red Hat CloudForms – their open hybrid cloud management platform.

Originally announced as in-beta at Red Hat Summit in 2011, CloudForms represents a year’s work in the trenches, making sure that the infrastructure is robust and complete enough for enterprises to be able to build and manage their cloud applications. The move is a logical one, with Red Hat firstly wanting to see their technologies interweave but also to make as large a footprint as possible, before anyone can possibly match their offering.

A key driver behind CloudForms is the idea of hybrid – not quite fully public, but with a degree of private cloud features thrown in. Red Hat are seeking to include as many options as possible (mirroring what they said last month about OpenShift for PaaS onlookers). They want to bring in a wide variety of infrastructure types, numerous vendors providing support (whilst steering clear of lock-in) and welcome different governance models, so ITOps and DevOps are both included (much like OpenShift).

Every IT environment is different thus has different needs. If you have the resources to cater for every possibility, then why not? Infrastructures are complex, especially managing a hybrid cloud, but Red Hat is looking to break down the barrier of inflexibility. Red Hat are looking at those unwilling to make the shift to a new IaaS, but for the enterprise in question to leverage what they already have at their disposal – whilst probably leveraging some other Red Hat technologies while they are at it.

Red Hat provides a comprehensive infrastructure stack that includes Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, JBoss Enterprise Middleware, Red Hat Storage, thousands of certified ISV applications, and now, Red Hat CloudForms to manage this stack in hybrid cloud environments. Effectively the whole lot.

Keeping it open is another key mantra of not only CloudForms, but Red Hat themselves. The first $1bn revenue-generating open source company has built rock-solid foundation upon being open source, so naturally CloudForms has open standards and open APIs.

Another key idea behind CloudForms is that you should only need to build something once, then deploy across cloud providers.

“The role of enterprise IT is evolving. There’s no doubt that end users want to help themselves to cloud-like compute resources, but the IT department still needs to centralize deployment, management and integration,” said Rachel Chalmers, vice president, Research, Infrastructure Management at 451 Research, a division of leading global analyst and data company The 451 Group.  “A platform like CloudForms makes it possible for organizations to build clouds that span their in-place infrastructure and expose it to a new generation of developers and end users, all without relinquishing control.”

CloudForms wants to maintain some order yet giving the sugar of open source technologies at the same time. There needs to be a level of trust too which Red Hat has made sure is there. You can apparently use tools and software from a number of vendors and integrate them into existing infrastructure, without fearing the ramifications of doing so. Red Hat have given it their seal of approval

“CloudForms enables enterprises to use infrastructure ranging from virtual to public cloud resources together in an open hybrid cloud architecture and is a game-changer for enterprises leveraging the power of the cloud,” said Brian Stevens, CTO and vice president, Worldwide Engineering at Red Hat. “We recognize that for a complete open hybrid cloud, enterprises need more than just the management layer – they also need openness and portability across compute, data/services, programming models and applications. Red Hat is the only vendor that can deliver a portfolio of solutions to meets these needs, and we’ve further extended this today with the availability of a new cloud platform with groundbreaking features via CloudForms.”

This announcement is big news, make no mistake about it. Red Hat are gobbling up the cloud platform industry with a pretty convincing portfolio of products. CloudForms solidifies that notion and more. Red Hat uses it internally, so if you’re hesistant, you really shouldn’t be. What’s even better is that it’s available, on-premise or hosted, as of…right now.

Did anyone notice they beat Oracle to their announcement by a few hours? Tactical perhaps?

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