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For the past ten years, Red Hat Enterprise Linux has delivered and enabled customer choice. When first introduced in 2002, it started as an operating system that delivered the powerful innovation and collaboration of the open source development model to the enterprise. As a general purpose operating system, Red Hat Enterprise Linux was all about choice – enabling all kinds of applications to run reliably on all kinds of hardware, avoiding proprietary vendor lock-in.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux has greatly expanded to become a comprehensive operating platform enabling a broad spectrum of applications, anywhere, anytime. More than 8,000 applications from 1,500 ISVs run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux on thousands of certified hardware systems, as well as leading virtualization platforms and cloud provider infrastructures. Hundreds of open source applications and developer tools are delivered today with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Developers working for software vendors, system integrators, large and small businesses in a wide variety of industries, plus technology start-ups all extend this vital ecosystem every day by developing and delivering customer solutions running with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Choice is significant for enterprises because it enables competition which leads to accelerated innovation and lower cost. Choice allows customers to pick the best solution for their business or technical problem at the price that best fits their circumstances from the vendor of their choosing. Red Hat Enterprise Linux delivers on this commitment in many ways and was established as a default destination for enterprise applications moving from expensive UNIX hardware and operating systems to an open infrastructure powered by multiple hardware systems and architectures. Large and small customers can realize significant cost savings when they move their applications to Intel-based servers and often significantly increase the performance and manageability of their IT operations – ultimately a result of choice.

One key to enabling true customer choice is openness. Red Hat Enterprise Linux has a strong track record as an open platform: It is developed in an open, transparent process and delivered under open source licenses, as outlined in last week’s blog Building Red Hat Enterprise Linux with Our Partners. Compatible with numerous open standards, Red Hat Enterprise Linux paves the way for even broader adoption – a critical ingredient connecting the new world of cloud infrastructure and technology. Through community powered innovation with Linux communities, customers and partners, Red Hat pushes the envelope in making proven open solutions available to the enterprise. By participating in Red Hat’s partner programs, technology vendors can add solutions to the large pool of choices available to run on or underneath a single, consistent platform. These partner programs are supported and well-suited for even the most mission-critical environments.

The other key to true customer choice is commitment. Red Hat’s commitment to choice is far reaching. It starts with the commitment to open source and open standards, and continues to the attributes known to Red Hat Enterprise Linux: a 10 year life cycle, stability of binary and programming application interfaces, and a predictable cadence of delivering community and industry innovation. We believe that this life cycle is unmatched by rival platforms and maximizes the ROI of solutions developed and implemented with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. More and more customers are looking to take advantage of the opportunity to improve agility and productivity while lowering the total cost to run their IT operations by standardizing on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. In addition, this doesn’t limit their choice of vendor solutions that best suits the needs of the application or for powering, managing and operating the infrastructure.

Another aspect of choice is architectural freedom. Choice is never free, it has a cost, in society as well as in business. And, enterprise IT is no exception. The flip-side of reaping the benefits of choice is the cost of making the actual choice and then integrating products from multiple vendors and fully relying on their commitment to jointly optimize and support solutions. Other vendors position their vertically integrated single-vendor stacks as the solution to this problem - kindly omitting the vendor lock-in that is inevitable with this approach. Open source and open standards provide choice through its ability to interoperate more easily and establish a best-of-breed approach while avoiding the monolithic stack and the resulting vendor lock-in. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is proven to be the alternative to vendor lock-in attempts and will continue to minimize the cost of choice by extending the lead in cross-vendor collaboration in the development and support of customer solutions.

For many enterprise organizations, the new era of cloud computing is just beginning. The Red Hat Enterprise Linux team is excited about the opportunity to enable and smooth the transition to cloud for any enterprise. Not just to add another choice, but to drive even more choice in the open, hybrid clouds that will be the foundation of the future IT.

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