Red Hat Aims High with Enterprise Cloud

In the midst of what it characterized as a tremendous industry move from the traditional client-server model to a cloud-based approach, Red Hat Inc. informed everyone that it's now seeking to become the king of the enterprise cloud.

Jim Whitehurst, company CEO, outlined how the enterprise Linux vendor plans to come out of the industry disruption as the pre-eminent cloud services vendor.

"Right now, we're in the midst of a major shift from client-server to cloud-mobile," he said. "It's a once-every-20-years kind of change. As history has shown us, in the early days of those changes, winners emerge that set the standards for that era -- think Wintel in the client-server arena. We're staring at a huge opportunity -- the chance to become the leader in enterprise cloud, much like we are the leader in enterprise open source."

The Red Hat CEO didn't provide any new hard news and few details, seeming to just signal a change in corporate strategy.

"We want to be the undisputed leader in enterprise cloud, and that's why Red Hat is going to continue to push," Whitehurst said. "We're going to continue to grow our capabilities in OpenStack, OpenShift and CloudForms. We're going to continue to push our advances in storage and middleware and offer those to customers and our partner ecosystem."

He noted that "the competition is fierce."

Microsoft, Amazon, IBM and numerous other traditional industry heavyweights -- along with challenging upstarts -- might provide that fierce competition

Oracle Corp., for example, might have signaled a change in corporate strategy itself with the recent news that industry icon Larry Ellison was stepping down as company CEO, a position that will be filled by two people going forward: Safra Catz and Mark Hurd.

Oracle said former CEO Ellison is 'on the attack' in the PaaS arena.
Oracle said former CEO Ellison is "on the attack" in the PaaS arena.

The New York Times previewed the upcoming Oracle OpenWorld conference in an article titled, "Hurd: Oracle Takes On Microsoft in the Cloud."

"Not to give too much away, but Mark Hurd, the newly minted co-chief executive of Oracle Corp., is ready for a battle," wrote Quentin Hardy in the Times on the same day as Whitehurst's missive. "It starts this Sunday night, and it features his boss, Lawrence J. Ellison, throwing down against Microsoft for control of corporate cloud computing applications."

Hurd was quoted as saying the conference's opening keynote address will be about the company's "unique opportunity to be the leader of the next generation of cloud." Hurd noted that Ellison was going to announce the company's new Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering, stating, "We want to be on the attack."

The Times noted there's a lot at stake:

Platforms in the computer business are, of course, the holy grail, since before Oracle and Microsoft began competing decades ago. A company with a platform, the idea goes, is at the essential center of new software and business creation -- developers get rich, customers get loyal, the platform maker grows.

While Oracle and Ellison might be on the attack, Red Hat hasn't been defensive. Whitehurst mentioned the recent acquisition of FeedHenry that expanded "our already broad portfolio of application development, integration, and PaaS solutions."

Whitehurst also noted the following recent moves, which could possibly be setting the company up for its big push to be the enterprise cloud leader:

  • An agreement with Cisco for a new integrated infrastructure offering for OpenStack-based cloud deployments.
  • A collaboration with Nokia to bring the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform to Nokia's telco cloud.
  • A pact with Google to work on the Kubernetes project to manage Docker containers at scale.
  • The acquisition of eNovance, a cloud computing services company.
  • The acquisition of Intank, "which offers scale-out, open source storage systems based on Ceph, a top storage distribution for OpenStack."
  • Recent launches of Red Hat Satellite 6, Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 5 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.

In the face of stiff competition, Whitehurst noted that "companies will have several choices for their cloud needs. But the prize is the chance to establish open source as the default choice of this next era, and to position Red Hat as the provider of choice for enterprises' entire cloud infrastructure."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.