Red Hat continues to be very active in the cloud computing arena, so it seems like a good time to provide an update on some recent activities.

First is Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens’ keynote speech at the recent Red Hat Summit and JBoss World events in Chicago. Brian focused his presentation on cloud computing and referenced a number of cloud-related open source projects that Red Hat is supporting. To see his presentation, please visit here. The conference also featured a number of cloud presentations, which you can download from here.

At the 100,000-foot level, during the last few months a couple of fairly obvious patterns appear to be emerging:

  • The first is that cloud computing seems to be primarily x86 based, and 64-bit x86 at that. This appears to be driven by the strong desire of cloud consumers to use standardized hardware and software wherever possible. And, we believe that it is being enabled by the latest generation of x86 processors, which feature lots of cores for huge processing power, very large memory capabilities and small space/power requirements. Red Hat’s experience to date with its cloud customers is that they are all x86-based. Perhaps a small percentage of non-x86 clouds will be built, but it seems very likely that they will be limited to private deployments. Some expect this further adoption of the x86 architecture to hasten the decline of RISC/UNIX in the market.
  • The second is that while the benefits of clouds are well understood by most CIOs and IT managers, the barriers to widespread cloud adoption are also becoming clear. One of the most important barriers relates to cloud standards or, the other side of the same coin, the need to avoid any sort of vendor lock-in. Clearly, until cloud standards are established and accepted by cloud service providers, customers are likely to limit their usage of cloud computing, reducing its potential value. Other barriers range from technical (such as ensuring security) to operational (application data management) to business issues (pricing models). So, while there are successful clouds available today, there is still a lot of work to be done before cloud computing is appropriate for a wide range of deployments.

Coming down from the 100,000-foot clouds, some exciting recent developments include:

  • On October 5th, DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency) announced the availability of its RACE (Rapid Access Computing Environment) cloud capability. See here and here.

    RACE is available internally to DoD (US Department of Defense) organizations. "This is all about our customers," said Henry J. Sienkiewicz, Technical Program Director, DISA Computing Services, adding, "RACE is a first for DoD – our users can now customize, purchase, and receive their test and development computing platform within 24 hours and the production environments within 72 hours, and that’s a must for worldwide missions with ever-changing computing requirements."

    RACE is x86-based and provides support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Microsoft Windows guests.

  • On October 8th, NTT Communications launched its cloud beta, based on Red Hat Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) virtualization technology. See here.

    NTT, a major Japanese telecommunications company, partnered with Red Hat to create its cloud platform. And, NTT continues to work with Red Hat to advance the capabilities of KVM.

  • Deltacloud, announced by Brian Stevens during his Red Hat Summit keynote, appears to be attracting attention as a way to address interoperability concerns. The following excerpt provides an overview of Deltacloud:

    With the rapidly expanding cloud market, there will be a profusion of suppliers, offering a wide range of capabilities (from high-cost, high-performance, high-security, high-availability, to low-cost with few guarantees). Suppliers are already offering a range of management APIs (interfaces) and tools for customers that reflect the capabilities they offer. Concurrent with this, customers are building private clouds that they will eventually wish to integrate with external suppliers. The resulting range of management interfaces will complicate the seamless integration of private and multiple public clouds, making them less valuable to customers. This is where Deltacloud comes in – its goal is to provide an open, standardized interface that can be used to manage any and all clouds. Being an open source project, customers and suppliers will be able to extend it to meet their needs. Backend drivers will provide the connection to individual cloud services. Essentially Deltacloud becomes a cloud management broker – for example, a management application using Deltacloud would be able to identify a low cost cloud, or a high performance cloud, or a highly secure cloud, and provide a consistent management interface to all of them. In this way Deltacloud does not replace individual cloud management capabilities, rather it provides a higher-level abstraction across a broad landscape of clouds.

  • On October 7, Red Hat and Microsoft announced the completion of our first virtualization certifications, so that Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Microsoft Windows can be deployed together, as host or guest, and be fully supported by both companies. Details of this announcement can be seen on Red Hat website.

    This announcement opens the way for customers who are looking to deploy Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Microsoft Windows together on their private clouds to move ahead - confident that these heterogeneous configurations have been tested and that both companies will stand by them. So hosting and cloud providers now have more flexibility to mix and match Red Hat and Microsoft virtualization technologies. Of course, we are driving to make our virtualization solution valuable and compelling, so that customers will choose a Red Hat virtualization infrastructure for their clouds but, as we’ve pointed out several times in this blog, choice, coexistence and standards are the values that we expect will make clouds successful.

    To summarize, the completed certifications include:

    • Validation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4, using the KVM hypervisor, with Windows Server 2003, 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 guests.
    • Certification of Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V and Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 host with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 guests.
  • Last, but certainly not least, Amazon EC2, Red Hat’s first cloud computing partner, appears to be growing from strength to strength. We have had Red Hat offerings on EC2 for 18+ months. We are seeing stronger interest in wider adoption of EC2 deployments using both Red Hat Enterprise Linux and JBoss, and we continue to work closely with Amazon on future cloud technologies, so stay tuned for more news on that front later this year.

To summarize, the last few months have seen great progress from Red Hat in the cloud computing space. Standards-based open source technology is a natural fit for the cloud. As with other areas of technology focus, Red Hat seeks to drive innovation as rapidly as possible to enable customers and partners to realize the efficiencies of cloud computing quickly.

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