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The OpenStack Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud computing project, has been much in the news. April's formation of the forthcoming OpenStack Foundation put in place a governance structure to help encourage open development and community building. Red Hat, along with AT&T, Canonical, HP, IBM, Nebula, Rackspace, and SUSE, are Platinum members of that foundation. The foundation announcement was quickly followed by a well-attended OpenStack Conference that clearly demonstrated the size and enthusiasm of the OpenStack developer community.

That's not to say that OpenStack's work is done. Anything but! The structure and community is now largely in place to form the foundation for development of robust OpenStack products that meet the requirements of a wide range of businesses. However, that development and work doesn't just happen by itself.

Red Hat was actively involved in the project even before the foundation announcement; we are the #3 contributor to the current “Essex” release. This surprised some commentators given that it exceeded the contributions of vendors who had been louder about their alignment with the project. However, Red Hat's relatively quiet involvement was fully in keeping with our focus on actual code contributions through upstream communities. With the formation of the OpenStack Foundation and its open governance policies, these contributions have only accelerated.

In parallel, we've also begun the task of making OpenStack suitable for enterprise deployments. This means bringing the same systematic engineering and release processes to OpenStack that Red Hat has for products such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, Red Hat CloudForms, and JBoss Enterprise Middleware. For example, these enterprise products have well-defined lifecycles over which subscriptions can deliver specific types and levels of support. Upgrade paths between product versions are established and tested. Products have hardware certifications for leading server and storage vendors, certification and support of multiple operating systems including Windows and the experience and personnel to provide round the clock SLAs.

In short, stability, robustness, and certifications are key components of enterprise releases. The challenge—one that Red Hat has years of experience meeting—is to achieve the stability and robustness that enterprises need without sacrificing the speed of upstream innovation.

We're now taking an important step in the development of an enterprise-ready version of OpenStack with the release of a Technology Preview. Red Hat frequently uses Technology Previews to introduce customers to new technologies that it intends to introduce as enterprise subscription products in the future. Technology Preview features provide early access to upcoming product innovations, enabling customers to test functionality, and provide feedback during the development process.

We're doing all this because OpenStack will be an important component of Red Hat's open, hybrid cloud architecture. Here's where it fits:

OpenStack is an IaaS solution that manages a hypervisor and provides cloud services to users through self-service. Perhaps the easier way to think of OpenStack, however, is that it lets an IT organization stand up a cloud that looks and acts like a cloud at a service provider. That OpenStack is focused on this public cloud-like use case shouldn't be surprising; service provider Rackspace has been an important member of OpenStack and uses code from the project for its own public cloud offering.

This IaaS approach differs from the virtualization management offered by Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, which is more focused on what you can think of as an enterprise use case. In other words, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization supports typical enterprise hardware such as storage area networks and handles common enterprise virtualization feature requirements such as live migration. Both OpenStack and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization may manage hypervisors and offer self-service—among other features—but they're doing so in service of different models of IT architecture and service provisioning.

Red Hat CloudFormsTM provides open, hybrid cloud management on top of infrastructure providers. These “cloud providers” may be an on-premise IaaS like OpenStack or a public IaaS cloud like Amazon Web Services or Rackspace. They may be a virtualization platform (not just a hypervisor) like Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization or VMware vSphere. CloudForms even plans to support physical servers as cloud providers in the future. CloudForms allows you to build a hybrid cloud that spans those disparate resources. Equally important, though, CloudForms provides for the construction and ongoing management of applications across this hybrid infrastructure. It allows IT administrators to create Application Blueprints (for both single- and multi-tier/VM applications) that users can access from a self-service catalog and deploy across that hybrid cloud under policy.

Finally, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) capabilities on the infrastructure of your choice are delivered by Red Hat OpenShiftTM PaaS. Unlike a PaaS that is limited to a specific provider, OpenShift PaaS can run on top of any appropriately provisioned infrastructure whether in a hosted or on-premise environment. This allows organizations to not only choose to develop using the languages and frameworks of their choice but to also select the IT operational model that is most appropriate to their needs. The provisioning and ongoing management of the underlying infrastructure on which OpenShift PaaS runs is where virtualization, IaaS, and cloud management solutions come in.

OpenStack is therefore part of a portfolio of Red Hat cloud offerings which, in concert with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, JBoss Enterprise Middleware, Red Hat Storage, and other offerings, provides broad choice to customers moving to the cloud. Cloud is a major shift in the way that computing is operated and delivered. It's not a shift that can be implemented with a single point product.

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