Red Hat is not just a Linux company anymore. In the last few years the vendor has managed to extend its reach to every corner of the enterprise, from the network through the virtualization layer to the public cloud and beyond, while maintaining a razor sharp focus on the community. SiliconANGLE founder John Furrier and Wikibon’s Stu Miniman took a close look at the firm’s roadmap at the recently concluded Red Hat Summit in San Francisco, which attracted a record 45,000 attendees and saw the announcement of several important product updates spanning the entire stack.
“If software is eating the world and open source is a major component of the future of software, then this is the epicenter of that revolution,” Miniman remarks on theCUBE’s opening segment at the event. Leveraging its leadership position as a stepping stone, Red Hat has established itself at the forefront of the new wave of open source innovation. But the competition is only increasing as traditional rivals such as Microsoft reinforce the data center front while Amazon continues to push deeper into the enterprise, disrupting everything in its wake.
“Red Hat has been entrenched for decades in open source and it’s really grown up with the industry, and now open source is maturing at an accelerating rate faster than ever before. But the game is still the same,” Furrier observes. The stakes have never been higher and the market is moving faster than anyone has expected, yet the fundamentals remain unchanged. “You got the infrastructure component of the cloud, you got the application development component of the cloud, you got all that middleware at the platform-as-a-service layer, and finally you got the ecosystem.”
OpenShift: central to the strategy
Red Hat’s continued success hinges entirely on its ability to engage partners and developers, which is why Furrier sees its OpenShift platform-as-a-service as essential to the firm’s long-term vision. OpenStack is another core pillar, with the firm working to repackage the cloud platform as an extra layer of value on top of its flagship Linux distribution. And it also actively contributes to the OpenDaylight Project, an ambitious initiative that aims to develop a set of common standards for software-defined networking.
Miniman sees the company’s heavy involvement in the broader open source community as positive and indeed, very much necessary. “Red Hat is making bets with their resources and their dollars to make sure that as the market is changing, they got good position and good will in the community also,” he explains.
The efforts of Red Hat and other like-minded vendors helped transform open source software from an economic alternative to proprietary solutions into a growth catalyst for the entire IT industry, Furrier highlights. “Open source is now fully commercialized as a tier one frontrunner platform for all the software innovations,” he says. “The disruption behind that is an industrial revolution-like shift, at the heart of this is virtualization and now the big news here, this notion of containers.”
Containers breed confidence
Containers are a central focus for Red Hat. At the event, the firm announced a number of milestones in its partnership with Docker, a leading provider of containerization software for Linux applications that Furrier notes recently raised funding from veteran turned venture capitalist Jerry Chen. The investment is a major vote of confidence in the both the startup and the technology, which has been around for quite time but only now beginning to gain traction in the enterprise.
Besides being less resource-intensive than traditional hypervisors like VMware’s ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V, containers also enable interoperability across different types of environments, functionality that is absolutely essential to Red Hat’s vision for open source hybrid computing.
“The party line at this show is ‘physical, virtual, private and public’, those four environments,” Miniman details. “As CIOs try to figure out where their applications live, Red Hat is gonna have a solution that is gonna be enterprise-ready and they’re gonna help drive that home and be in that next-generation platform.”
Growing ambition for OpenStack
The on-premise piece of Red Hat’s hybrid puzzle is naturally OpenStack, which is still in its early stages but holds immense revenue potential for the company. “There’s some work to do on OpenStack and Red Hat needs to build their partnerships and ecosystem, but there is a huge opportunity in front of them,” Miniman says. The vendor has teamed up with Dell to capitalize on this opening, and the pair recently launched a new line of integrated solutions that combine the platform with Linux, OpenShift and Docker. He believes that the partnership is a good move for both companies and a potential step closer towards winning developers over to the Red Hat cause.
The way Miniman sees it, the firm “has always been a good partner in the ecosystem, driving that Linux message out. And they’re really trying to increase their position in the marketplace, trying to become the Red Hat of OpenStack, trying to push their virtualization solution more, going after the developer community.”
If realized, Red Hat’s ambitions for OpenStack would not only cement its position as the dominant force in the open source landscape the but also put wind behind the sails of the broader community, catapulting the platform into the enterprise mainstream. “Red Hat is now going to be the master of their own domain by setting the agenda for OpenStack. If they can do that and galvanize the industry with an ecosystem behind them they could run the table on OpenStack and be enterprise-grade,” according to Furrier.