Dan's Take

IBM and Red Hat Partner on Hybrid Cloud and OpenStack Adoption

And a primer on how to evaluate these kinds of announcements.

IBM and Red Hat just announced a "strategic collaboration designed to help enterprises benefit from the OpenStack platform's speed and economics while more easily extending their existing Red Hat virtualized and cloud workloads to the IBM Private Cloud." As part of the agreement, IBM has become a Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider.

Red Hat Cloud Access will be available for IBM Cloud by the end of Q2 2017.

Here's what the companies say are added benefits customers will receive through this partnership:

  • IBM and Red Hat will provide the hybrid cloud infrastructure to help customers more efficiently run cloud applications using OpenStack APIs.
  • Clients will have the ability to more quickly provision cloud infrastructure and, via Red Hat Cloud Access, migrate existing workloads and Red Hat subscriptions to IBM Cloud or use the software and infrastructure on a pay-as-you-go basis.
  • Companies can have additional reach and scale to more easily start locally and scale globally with cloud capabilities and to more easily comply with data residency and other regulatory mandates.

IBM and Red Hat plan to jointly market and sell the new offerings for private cloud deployments, including workload migrations, disaster recovery, capacity expansion and data center consolidation.

As I've written before, announcements of partnerships and alliances come in nearly every day. For the most part, I seldom comment on them. After watching the industry for decades, I've come to view these announcements with a great deal of skepticism, and it's my view that decision makers would be well advised to adopt the same viewpoint.

Partnerships and alliances are often announced with a great deal of ballyhoo; often, they're quietly disbanded later when the suppliers think no one is looking. Because of that, over the years I've come up with a few rules of thumb that have helped me evaluate the broad promises made by newly-formed partnerships and alliances:

  • Discover the goals of each of the players. If the goals appear congruent, the partnership or alliance is likely to hold for a reasonable period of time. If not, it's probably just a marriage of convenience and not likely to survive after the short-term goals have been achieved. In this case, IBM and Red Hat both want to see their customers use OpenStack for their on- and off-premises cloud operations.
  • Learn where and when the partners or alliance members plan to work together and where they're likely to compete. If the areas of competition are broad and the area of cooperation small, the end of the partnership or alliance is clearly in sight at the beginning. In this case, IBM and Red Hat appear to have a broad collaboration in a number of areas; that bodes well for this particular agreement.
  • Learn how the suppliers are planning to help your organization get from where it is today to their future promised land. Hand-waving and slide presentations aren't going to get the job done. In this case, IBM has a substantial investment in cloud operations and consulting services designed to help its customers adopt this approach to computing. Red Hat has invested a great deal in its Red Hat Enterprise Linux and OpenStack offerings. It appears that both are trying to help customers get from where they are today to the vendors' view of the promised land.
  • Learn how much will it cost to go on the proposed journey. It may quickly become apparent that this is an unnecessary journey for your organization. This is the place where decision-makers should listen very carefully to what these suppliers are saying, match it to their own enterprise IT goals and learn whether they're going where the enterprise wants to go.
  • Learn about their plans for ongoing support for both today's products and for the future products of the partnership or alliance. The history of the IT industry is littered with empty promises that led nowhere, but ended up costing enterprises both time and money.
  • How well funded is the partnership or alliance? If the only thing behind the public effort is a press release, it can safely be ignored. In this case, both suppliers have invested heavily in their portion of the agreement.
  • Get the promises in writing! Need I say more?
Dan's Take: A Partnership With Promise
While I typically don't comment on these things, this time, it appears that IBM and Red Hat's customer base would get something of value through this collaboration. As I've often mentioned, it's wise to develop a list of trusted suppliers who have a long history of making promises and then living up to them. Decision-makers should seek advice and counsel from these suppliers before making long-term plans based upon public announcements that promise the sun and the stars, but in the end only deliver the moon.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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