Red Hat Putting Finishing Touches on New Cloud App Platform

The venerable Linux provider will launch a new cloud application-building platform May 3 at its users' conference, Red Hat Summit and JBoss World, in Boston.

Red Hat, whose enterprise Linux operating system and middleware runs a lot of the world's enterprise IT systems, nonetheless has stood on the sidelines for several years while the cloud infrastructure folks have been churning out loads of new software.

The reason for this is clear: Up to now, the venerable Linux vendor hasn't had a cloud-specific tool or platform offering, although it already has many of the components needed to do this.

This all changes next month when Red Hat unveils a new cloud application-building platform at its users' conference, Red Hat Summit and JBoss World, in Boston.

The move that filled the last gap in the Cary, N.C.-based company's catalog was acquiring a small cloud-building tools maker named Makara last November. As a result, Red Hat expects to move immediately from the sidelines and into the game as a key player in the open-source cloud-app market.

Apps That Can Scale Up and Down as Needed

With Makara now in-house, Red Hat has the IP that enables developers to deploy J2EE applications to the cloud that can scale up or down as demand warrants. The Makara toolset is now an integral part of Red Hat's Cloud Foundations strategy.

"What we're working on at Red Hat is the confluence of open source and platform as a service," Isaac Roth, former CEO of Makara and now a Red Hat executive, told eWEEK. "On the day of the acquisition, we made our price point free, so that was good--we got a lot more usage as a result. Now we have a few thousand developers using"

These developers are building cloud applications on RH Linux, J2EE and PHP using the Makara tools. Details about the new package will be announced May 3 at the conference.

"We've changed our focus slightly at Red Hat: We're now focused on building the best platform as a service (PAAS) for developers that build on open source," Roth told eWEEK.

"Red Hat's core of efficiency is developers that build on open source, so we take the open-source projects that are out there and contribute heavily to them, and wrap operational support and certifications packaging around them to create commercial offerings.

"So this is an approach for developers who want to build on open source and like the innovation that comes from open-source platforms: to use the latest frameworks, the latest middleware and the latest pieces being put in because people are contributing them."

Makara was a standard startup, with proprietary software based on free and open-source software, at the time of the acquisition, Roth said. It's been his job during the last five months to bring the cloud-connecting piece to the Red Hat catalog, which already has the operating system, the middleware (JBoss) and the services to comprise the cloud stack.

"Red Hat now has all the ingredients (for a full-fledged cloud platform)," Roth said. "We are based on the KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine), and we have JBoss for the middleware.

What Other Cloud Stack Providers Lack

"For example, VMware has no operating system; Citrix has no operating system or no middleware; Microsoft has all the pieces--they're positioned well but they have had no play at all in platform as a service."

Applications deployed in data centers aren't designed to auto-scale, and applications are usually over-provisioned to account for peak loads or reactively provisioned when capacity problems occur, Roth said.

"Makara enables applications to automatically scale down and up, so the consumption of resources happens in an on-demand fashion," Roth said. "That's the kind of control we bring to the table.

"When we come out with our offering, it will put Red Hat on the (cloud) map, and in a pretty good position with the cloud and open-source community."

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...