Issue #15 January 2006

Red Hat Speaks

Todd Barr, Director of Product Marketing, Red Hat

This month, we speak with Todd Barr, who oversees developer solutions for Red Hat. Red Hat recently announced Red Hat Certified Stacks, available March 2006.

What do you do at Red Hat?
I manage a product team here that is delivering Red Hat's first solutions targeted specifically at the developer market. Today, with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, we deliver a lot of value to customers in the "production" phase of their IT projects. We believe we have value to deliver in the development and testing phases of projects, as well, and that is what we will prove out this year.
What is this annoucement all about? What's in it for our customers?
We've done a lot of research to understand what types of pains our customers are experiencing when they are developing and testing new applications, especially now that open source is part of their world. One of the key pains is the complexity that having more choices brings. For all the benefits that choice provides, it also brings new complexity that may increase time-to-market and cost during the development and testing process. The goal of Red Hat's new Certified Stacks is to try to remove some of that complexity by providing some "stacks" of common open source software that are pre-configured and pre-tested, so that customers don't have to assemble all of these parts on their own. Hopefully, it will save them some time and money.
We hear alot about "stacks." What's a stack?
A stack is simply a configuration of software components that work together to serve a common purpose. Most everyone has heard of the "LAMP" stack - Linux+Apache+MySQL+PHP. LAMP has become a popular stack because the components work really well together, and are all needed for building web applications. Our Java Web Application Stack is a good foundation for building more dynamic web applications. And our Enterprise Java Stack is a good foundation for building enterprise apps. We may have even more stacks in the future, but only if the combination of components is useful for solving a real business or technical problem.
How are these stacks certified, and why is that certification important?
Certification is probably an overused word... it implies a lot of different things to different people. However, in this case, it really means two things: 1) the components have been tested and "certified" to work together for the workload that the stack was designed for, and 2) Red Hat will stand behind the stack from development through to production. Because we are targeting each Certified Stack to particular workloads, we will be doing more workload-specific performance/capacity testing on each stack, so that customers can have evidence that the stacks will perform as expected.
What problem do these solutions solve, and who should be using them?
Again, the real issue here is reducing complexity so that our customers can spend less time tweaking their infrastructures, and more time developing new applications that can bring them competitive advantage. Our hope is that development organizations, when they are thinking about a new project, will use Red Hat's Certified Stacks as foundational building blocks that they can build applications on top of.
What are the benefits of choosing a stack solution over custom installations of our existing products?
Great question. In fact, a lot of the same "bits" that are part of our Certified Stacks are indeed included today with Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Red Hat Application Server. There are three main reasons to pick Certified Stacks: 1) Red Hat has configured and tested each stack, down to the package version, so that you don't have to; 2) Red Hat will support these stacks from development, through testing, and into production. Today, some packages like MySQL or PostgreSQL are provided with Red Hat Enterprise Linux as a convenience, but they aren't supported in production because they aren't part of the core operating system. And 3) Certified Stacks will have more up-to-date versions of key stack components, to be sure that a customer is not targeting a package for a the foundation of a new development project that is a generation behind. To sum it up, customers get pre-configured, pre-tested and up-to-date stacks that are great foundations for new development projects.
How is the stack delivered, and how much do they cost? What do you get for the price?
Red Hat's Certified Stacks will be delivered through Red Hat Network, just like all of our other subscription solutions. They will start at $599 per server per year, and will run on top of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The first stack, our Web Application Stack (LAMP) will be available in March 2006, followed shortly by additional stacks. Customers will get all the benefits of a Red Hat subscription, including updates, upgrades and support, as well as the Certified Stack test results. More than that, however, customers will get another open source offering from Red Hat that will help them remove some complexity and speed their time-to-market.
Is there anything else you want to tell us?
Stay-tuned for more solutions from us this year that we hope will bring real value for customers as they are developing and testing new applications.