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Red Hat Pushes for Enterprise Cloud Supremacy

Red Hat Inc. CEO Jim Whitehurst says the IT industry is undergoing a momentous shift from the client-server model to cloud-mobile, and the vendor of enterprise Linux and other open source software is pushing to come out the other end on top.

In the blog post, "Only a Matter of Time, Cloud Winners Will Be Chosen Soon," Whitehurst yesterday outlined recent moves and successes of the company while letting everyone know that enterprise cloud vendor supremacy is the next target.

"Right now, we're in the midst of a major shift from client-server to cloud-mobile," Whitehurst said. "It's a once-every-20-years kind of change. As history has shown us, in the early days of those changes, winners emerge that set the standards for that era -- think Wintel in the client-server arena. We're staring at a huge opportunity -- the chance to become the leader in enterprise cloud, much like we are the leader in enterprise open source."

The Red Hat leader's post contained no news, but seemed to be a rally-the-troops message signaling a change in corporate strategy.

"We want to be the undisputed leader in enterprise cloud, and that's why Red Hat is going to continue to push," Whitehurst said. "We're going to continue to grow our capabilities in OpenStack, OpenShift and CloudForms. We're going to continue to push our advances in storage and middleware and offer those to customers and our partner ecosystem."

Well, Jim, good luck in that. One thing you certainly nailed is the admission that "The competition is fierce."

Microsoft, Amazon Web Services Inc., IBM and countless other traditional industry heavyweights -- along with challenging upstarts and startups -- might have something to say on the matter.

Take Oracle Corp., for example, which might have signaled a change in corporate strategy itself this week with the news that industry icon Larry Ellison was stepping down as CEO, a position that will be staffed by two people henceforth: Safra Catz and Mark Hurd.

Oracle's Ellison is
Oracle's Ellison Is "On the [PaaS] Attack."

Yesterday, The New York Times previewed the upcoming Oracle OpenWorld conference in the article, "Hurd: Oracle Takes On Microsoft in the Cloud."

"Not to give too much away, but Mark Hurd, the newly minted co-chief executive of Oracle Corp., is ready for a battle," wrote Quentin Hardy in the Times on the same day as Whitehurst's missive. "It starts this Sunday night, and it features his boss, Lawrence J. Ellison, throwing down against Microsoft for control of corporate cloud computing applications."

Hurd was quoted as saying the conference's opening keynote address will be about the company's "unique opportunity to be the leader of the next generation of cloud." Hurd noted that Ellison was going to announce the company's new Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering, stating, "We want to be on the attack."

There's a lot at stake, as the Times noted:

Platforms in the computer business are, of course, the holy grail, since before Oracle and Microsoft began competing decades ago. A company with a platform, the idea goes, is at the essential center of new software and business creation -- developers get rich, customers get loyal, the platform maker grows.

While Oracle and the feisty Ellison might be on the attack, Red Hat hasn't exactly been hunkering down in the PaaS trenches. Whitehurst mentioned the recent acquisition of FeedHenry that expanded "our already broad portfolio of application development, integration and PaaS solutions."

Whitehurst also noted the following recent moves, which might be seen as setting the company up for its big push to be the enterprise cloud leader:

  • An agreement with Cisco Systems Inc. for a new integrated infrastructure offering for OpenStack-based cloud deployments.
  • A collaboration with Nokia to bring the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform to the Nokia telco cloud.
  • A pact with Google Inc. to work on the Kubernetes project to manage Docker containers at scale.
  • The acquisition of eNovance, a cloud computing services company.
  • The acquisition of Intank, "which offers scale-out, open source storage systems based on Ceph, a top storage distribution for OpenStack."
  • Recent launches of Red Hat Satellite 6, Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 5 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.

In the face of fierce competition, Whitehurst noted that "companies will have several choices for their cloud needs. But the prize is the chance to establish open source as the default choice of this next era, and to position Red Hat as the provider of choice for enterprises' entire cloud infrastructure."

So it should be interesting to watch how things shake out, though there might not ever be a clear winner in enterprise cloud computing. We might end up with some kind of oligarchical triumvirate, like in the old SQL Server/Oracle/DB2 relational database days.

However, you can always get a clearer idea of where things stand in life by "following the money," of course, and Forbes this week kindly provided this capsule summation of the best-performing cloud computing stocks so far this year:

The Forbes list of best-performing cloud computing stocks YTD 2014.
[Click on image for larger view.] The Forbes list of best-performing cloud computing stocks YTD 2014.
(source: Forbes.)

Posted by David Ramel on 09/23/2014 at 1:17 PM


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