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OpenStack dons a Red Hat

Shadowman previews cloud control freak distro

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Red Hat just about owns the commercial Linux distribution business and it has a pretty hefty slice of the commercial Java application server racket, too. Now it is taking those products up into the clouds by rolling up a commercial distribution of the OpenStack cloud controller that was created by NASA and Rackspace Hosting two years ago.

OpenStack has been gathering momentum like Linux did in the early days, and Shadowman knows a good business opportunity when it sees one. With the OpenStack Foundation getting its governance model in order – essentially having Rackspace let go of control and ceding it to the community by the end of this year – Red Hat was able to put its official endorsement on OpenStack back in April.

It was only a matter of time before OpenStack would become the default cloud control freak supported by Red Hat, particularly considering the close affinity between OpenStack and the KVM hypervisor, which Red Hat controls.

Red Hat said as much when it joined the OpenStack community, throwing down the gauntlet to Linux distro rivals SUSE Linux, which is working on a SLES-OpenStack mashup, and Canonical, which released its Ubuntu LTS-OpenStack double-whammy back in April.

Brian Stevens, CTO at Red Hat, tells El Reg that the plan is to commercialize the impending "Folsom" release of OpenStack, due at the end of September, once Red Hat's engineers have hardened it and everyone in the tech support and sales teams are trained up on it.

The Folsom release includes features not in the current "Essex" release, such as the Quantum virtual network interface, the Ceph block storage, the Glance virtual machine imaging system, the Horizon management dashboard, and substantial enhancements to the Nova compute controller that was originally contributed by NASA for the OpenStack project.

OpenStack will be packaged up into RPMs, complete with installers and documentation, and will run atop Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6. While the company has not yet committed to a name, Stevens says it will likely be called Red Hat OpenStack, or RHOS for short.

This commercial-grade Red Hat OpenStack is expected to be available in early 2013. In the meantime, Red Hat is rolling out a tech preview of Red Hat OpenStack based on the Essex release, as much to get its own internal processes up and running as to get eager and early adopters some code to play with that has some tech support behind it.

"We need more runway to test our support and training and to get it going ahead of time," explains Stevens. "This preview gets all of the activities up and humming inside of Red Hat."

This includes hundreds of people who work on the OpenStack team, including solution architects, support staff, and training experts. These people have done eight proof-of-concept setups already with the Essex release, spanning thousands of servers each, and now Red Hat is throwing it open for a tech preview than anyone can join.

"OpenStack has a long way to go, but it has come a long way already and is solving real problems today," Stevens says. "Now is the time to engage."

You can join the preview here, and as Red hat points out, "It's a preview, so it's still a little rough around the edges." There is no service level agreement or formal tech support for the OpenStack preview, although you do have access to the research and development and tech support teams as part of the preview, and you can email them and send in bug reports. You have to be on RHEL 6.3 or higher and you need a RHEL license for each server you deploy Shadowman's OpenStack upon.

In addition to firing up an OpenStack distro for some time in early 2013, Red Hat is also working to port its OpenShift platform cloud to OpenStack so it can be run locally inside of corporate data centers. OpenShift currently runs atop Amazon's Web Services cloud, which is based on its own variants of Linux and the Xen hypervisor.

Red Hat rejiggered the OpenShift platform cloud and made it production-grade back at the end of June after releasing its code as the OpenShift Origins project in late April, a few weeks after joining the OpenStack community, and committing to its own distro of the cloud control freak. This private version of the OpenShift platform cloud running atop the OpenStack infrastructure clouds is already up and running in the Red Hat labs.

Stevens did not have a launch date for when the combination will be rolled out as a supported product, but clearly it will be at the same time or after Red Hat OpenStack comes to market early next year. ®

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