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Red Hat snaps up Makara

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As El Reg reported back in September, Makara was shopping itself to various potential suitors, and today Linux, virtualization, and middleware juggernaut Red Hat snapped up the startup to pad out its platform as a service products to better compete against Microsoft, VMware, and others.

Makara was founded two years ago and came out of stealth mode in February 2010 with its Cloud Application Platform. This software is yet another abstraction layer that rides atop systems and includes runtime environments for PHP and Java applications, Tomcat or JBoss application servers, and Apache Web servers. The underlying abstraction layer in the Makara tool is called WebappVM, and it includes features to gather performance information on running applications and automatically scale resources on cloudy infrastructure as PHP and Java applications run.

The tool also has change management features that allows for upgrading of the runtime and middleware environments and rollback when something goes wrong. The WebappVM tool has a user interface coded using Adobe's Flex tool, and can manage different and incompatible infrastructure clouds and hide their differences to PHP and Java applications.

In other words, Makara made Red Hat essentially irrelevant as far as platform as a service (PaaS) clouds and its evolving JBoss middleware to help manage them were concerned. And that is a situation that is just too dangerous for Red Hat to allow. It's a wonder why VMware, which was also sniffing around Makara, didn't snap it up just to keep it out of the hands of Red Hat. Too late now.

When Makara put out a beta of the Cloud Application Platform when it came out of stealth in February, the tool could be used to overlay Amazon's EC2 compute clouds as well as Rackspace Cloud and Terramark vCloud public clouds; the tool could be used to make an platform cloud internally on VMware ESX Server, Oracle VirtualBox, or one of a number of Xen hypervisor implementations. The WebappVM extraction layer did not present a database service layer, but the applications that are running atop WebappVM could be pointed at any database source they need on the public or private cloud.

In August when the EC2 support was ready for primetime and the Makara tool was generally available, MySQL became the database of choice for the Makara stack but Amazon's SimpleDB and Relational Database Service (RDS) were supported as well; there were also hooks out to the Google Data and Microsoft Azure SQL data services. The Cloud Application Platform did not speak .NET or Ruby when it shipped, which were limitations that Makara founder Isaac Roth conceded were issues, and it still does not.

Now, Red Hat is paying an undisclosed sum to get its hands on Makara's Cloud Application Platform so it can tear it apart and spread it around its own Cloud Foundation collection of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Enterprise Virtualization, and JBoss middleware. In a Webcast announcing the acquisition, Scott Crenshaw, general manager of Red Hat's cloud business unit, the Makara tool will be integrated with the RHEL, RHEV, and JBoss tools to make a "cohesive Red Hat solution."

That, said Crenshaw, means the Cloud Application Platform will not be offered as a standalone product as it is today. The upside is that Red Hat plans to take whatever code it uses from Makara and mixes with its JBoss PaaS efforts and make it open source, as the company does with all of its software. The current Cloud Application Platform is available as a free trial and Red Hat is happy for companies to take it for a spin as they build internal PaaS clouds or create external ones using public infrastructure clouds. Red Hat will also do professional engagements and prototypes based on the Makara products who cannot wait for the future PaaS extensions for the Cloud Foundation.

Crenshaw did not tip the company's cards on when this future integrated product based on Makara and JBoss technologies would be delivered. And Red Hat is not talking about its plans for pricing Cloud Application Platform now that it has taken it over or how the future PaaS components in its own Cloud Foundation will be priced or when they would be available. ®

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