Two key elements are likely to drive enterprises toward cloud application deployment: features and price. This week, Red Hat is aiming to bolster its cloud position on both counts, as it offers lower pricing for its OpenShift platform-as-a-service offerings and adds new features that make the PaaS easier to use and deploy.
The OpenShift online service first became generally available in June after two years of beta preview deployments. The first two years of deployments gave OpenShift customers a free tier of services that were expanded in June with new commercially supported service levels.
Now, Red Hat is cutting the price of its paid OpenShift Online service levels by 50 percent for its small (512MB memory) and medium-sized (1GB of memory) offerings, which Red Hat refers to as "gears." Going a step further, Red Hat now has a large gear that provides 2GB of memory. Pricing now ranges from 2 to 10 cents per hour.
The price reduction for OpenShift is a function of better operational efficiency, Ashesh Badani, general manager of the Cloud Business Unit at Red Hat, told eWEEK.
"The notion that is true in the public cloud is if you achieve greater efficiency, you should be able to have a more efficient mechanism for charging customers," Badani said. "In our case, we are getting greater density, and we're running in a more efficient fashion and we want to pass on the savings to our customers."
Red Hat's OpenShift pricing might also benefit from continued efficiencies and price reductions coming from the Amazon Web Service public cloud, as well. While Red Hat builds its own PaaS, it does not currently own the actual infrastructure that is used to deliver OpenShift online. OpenShift Online is hosted on the Amazon AWS East cloud platform.
While price reductions from Amazon might well be having an impact on OpenShift's pricing, Red Hat is doing a lot more than just simply consuming Amazon's cloud services, Badani said. Red Hat is continuing to improve the operational efficiencies of how it runs the OpenShift PaaS infrastructure on top of the public cloud infrastructure, he added.
OpenShift Online is also being improved with features that reduce downtime and improve application scalability. One of the new features is the ability for users to roll back a given application to a prior deployment state.
Red Hat enhanced its systems so rollbacks can be automatically deployed when needed, instead of the user performing a manual process to perform the application rollback, Badani said.
Red Hat is also offering its OpenShift Online users the promise of zero downtime deployment for scalable apps.
"In the past, there was a bit of a pause when a user went to do an app scale-out," Badani said. "Now, we've architected a feature in the back end that enables a user to get that scale-out much quicker."
The OpenShift Online release is the hosted version of Red Hat's PaaS. The company also offers an on-premises PaaS, called OpenShift Enterprise.
OpenShift Enterprise adoption is coming from both net new customers as well as those that are using OpenShift Online but need a private service they can host themselves, Badani said.
The technology included in the enterprise release trails what is available in the online service and is packaged for enterprise stability.
Red Hat is actively developing Origin, an open-source community version of OpenShift, Badani said. The plan for Origin is to follow the same model that Red Hat has for most of its commercial offerings, whereby an open-source project feeds the commercially supported services, he added.
Red Hat is getting some community participation into the OpenShift Origin effort and is looking to continue to grow that initiate, he said.
"We're working to take further steps to improve governance of OpenShift Origin to encourage more participation," Badani said.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.