Linux vendor Red Hat wasn't an early adopter of the open source OpenStack cloud project. That has changed this year, as Red Hat has fully embraced OpenStack and is now rapidly moving forward on building a commercially supported implementation.
In an interview with InternetNews, Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens detailed his company's plans for OpenStack. Red Hat is now in customers trials and is rapidly accelerating its engagement within the OpenStack community.
When OpenStack got started back in July of 2010, Red Hat was not really all that interested. Stevens explained that Red Hat was concerned about open governance, a concern that is now being addressed. In April of this year, Red Hat officially joined the growing effort to build the OpenStack Foundation, which will provide an open and transparent governance model for OpenStack. Red Hat has also committed at least $1.5 million over three years to the new foundation.
"We took the risk to put a development team on it (OpenStack) last summer," Stevens said.
At that point, in Stevens' view, Rackspace was saying all the right things about wanting to create a more open effort around OpenStack. Rackspace is one of co-founders of the OpenStack effort, along with NASA. Red Hat's contributions now place it among the leading contributors to OpenStack in terms of code. Stevens now represents Red Hat in OpenStack board-level discussions and is working with the Rackspace team to help figure out the trademark issues around OpenStack becoming more open.
OpenStack code is already available in Red Hat's community Fedora Linux distribution. The code is also now available to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3 customers as a set of packages on the EPEL (Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux) repository.
"We already have customers today, taking Red Hat packaged OpenStack on top of RHEL 6.3 and going through all the PoC (proof of concept) stuff," Stevens said. "We're engaging with them on that, though there is no money changing hands or official support on it today."
One of the things that Red Hat is figuring out is how to provide enterprise support for OpenStack. Red Hat Enterprise Linux provides 10 years of support, which is not a model that will work for OpenStack. Currently OpenStack iterates releases every six month which makes a 10-year support model impossible.
Stevens noted that if Red Hat were to say they would support the most recent OpenStack Essex release for 10 years, it wouldn't work since customers will likely want the newer versions. Red Hat's model of code back-porting is how enterprise Linux can be supported for 10 years and it's likely that a similar concept will land in OpenStack.
"We're trying to design what that support lifetime will look like," Stevens said. "In the interim, we're just working with customers, on the code."
The Commercial Model
Red Hat's model for OpenStack is likely to take the form of a discrete software subscription. It's a 'Swiss army knife' model where each core Red Hat component in the software stack, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux, storage and OpenStack, can be combined with each other or sold on its own.
"We also want to offer pre-integrated solution stacks,' Stevens said.
When it comes to commercial OpenStack implementations, for the most part to date, Rackspace has been leveraging Ubuntu Linux as the primary Linux vendor in OpenStack reference implementations. That's a situation that might be challenged with Red Hat's offerings.
"We've developed over the past months, an amazing relationship with Rackspace," Stevens. "We're working together in customer environments but there is not an official relationship."
Watch the full interview below: