Seeking to make ISVs an offer they can't refuse, Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) has teamed with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) to provide Red Hat Enterprise Linux [RHEL] 5.x instances in the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) infrastructure as a service offering.
The beta Amazon-hosted monthly payment subscription service will allow developers -- be they in ISVs or enterprises -- to develop to RHEL and then deploy the applications as a service. The applications owners will then only pay for the hosting of those applications and services based on their use and support infrastructure demand -- known as pay as you drink.
Red Hat also announced Wednesday the release of RHEL 5.1, which follows from RHEL 5.0's arrival last March. The newer point release provides an even deeper and aggressive reach into virtualization benefits, including significant performance boosts.
Additionally, Red Hat plans in mid-2008 to debut a series of software appliances, beginning with Red Hat Appliance OS and an associated development kit. This will allow entire packages of platform, middleware and applications to be crafted into an easily deployed functionally targeted and optimized appliance.
The goal is to allow developers and ISVs myriad choices on how to deliver their applications and services, as long as they deploy to the RHEL stack of open source infrastructure. Red Hat then charges for maintenance and support, or via on-demand subscriptions. By targeting just RHEL, developers can then deploy directly to dedicated servers, to virtualized instances of Linux, via optimized software appliances (apps plus OS plus required stacks), as well as via several choices for on-demand hosting (including Amazon).
Red Hat calls this plethora of deployment models and approaches as its new Linux Automation strategy. Red Hat is also interestingly getting chummy with Sun Microsystems (JAVA) on enterprise Java support, now that Java is open source.
What's more, through its burgeoning embrace of virtualization options, Red Hat plans to aggressively support Windows instances on Red Hat, so that any Windows 32-bit applications (from across many versions of Windows) can be supported virtually on RHEL. The leading Linux supplier also plans to work inside of Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) pending Viridian hypervisor, which is based on the Linux-based Xen hypervisor (at least for now).
On a large business level, Red Hat is seeking to bring more open source deployment options to global developers of nearly every ilk. For operators, Red Hat hopes to simplify their infrastructures while offering strong performance and lower total costs through higher utilization and capacity management on top of lower licensing and hardware costs. Red Hat says that RHEL is gaining ground quickly on mainframes, including IBM's (NYSE:IBM) System Z.
My take on these announcements is that Red Hat wants to take its Linux distribution clout far beyond the market for dedicated servers and blades at individual enterprises, and become the de facto industry standard for how hosting organizations, telecommunications providers, entertainment providers, and on-demand ISVs deploy all their applications over the next 10 years.
Red Hat is banking on the trends around virtualization, clustering and utility computing, multi-core hardware/parallelism, and the increasingly advantageous on-demand subscription economic models to become the low-cost, high-performance enough foundational supplier.
With virtualization performance gaining ground, and allowing many types and kind of server applications to run on instances of many OSes, then more (and nearly) all things become equal such that a pure price-performance comparison can be made for providing applications and services. Whether you are building, hosting, providing, or monetizing around those services -- you will eventually move to the best price-performance deal.
The race is on then: Windows, Solaris/Open Solaris, Red Hat Linux -- on various types of platform iterations -- for the best story when it comes to hosting price-performance and deployment ease experience. Red Hat is aiming high on this one. And it has a pretty good shot at doing it very well.
Red Hat is boldly predicting it can, by 2015, double its market share and support more than half the worlds server instances. And they didn't even use the "grid" or "utility" words, not once.