Red Hat updates private PaaS amid market uncertainty

Despite the uncertainty around the PaaS market in the OpenStack community, Red Hat is plowing full steam ahead, rolling out the 2.0 version of its OpenShift Enterprise PaaS offering.

The OpenStack PaaS market is going through some dramatic changes right now and it’s hard to predict how it will shake out. That kind of uncertainty isn’t good for any market, as companies struggle to choose vendors without much confidence for how they might fair in the future.

Given that Red Hat is a top contributor to OpenStack, its strategy is likely to closely align with the direction of the OpenStack community. That means if you pick OpenShift you’re less likely to be stuck out in the cold.

But given all the developments in the PaaS world, even that’s not a certainty.

After talking to Ashesh Badani, general manager of cloud and OpenShift at Red Hat, I didn’t get a lot of clarity beyond that all the changes in the PaaS market indicate healthy competition.

He said that Red Hat is also hearing that there’s confusion in the market about PaaS. The company hosted a cloud advisory board a couple of weeks ago to get additional feedback from customers and heard that customers are confused by the many different PaaS solutions out there.

Red Hat may not be helping matters given its participation in Project Solum, a project kicked off by a group of OpenStack contributors that sounds an awful lot like a PaaS project. The point of the project itself is a bit confusing because it has the potential of eliminating competitive differentiation between companies offering PaaS platforms based on OpenStack.

Badani characterized Solum as a typical open source project: it could succeed but it might fail. “Our belief is if things are interesting to the community that are adding value then that’s something we want to participate in. If it doesn’t, we should move on,” he said. “We’re still at the stage where we’re trying to find our way with regard to making sure we match the development we do in the open source community with what the enterprise wants us to do.”

The recent unveiling of Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry implementation further muddied the waters for businesses looking to adopt a PaaS. Ubuntu hasn’t helped matters by backing both Project Solum and Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry.

“The perspective we have is it’s a competitive market place and customers should have choices,” Badani said of Pivotal. “Customers are sophisticated enough to make choices and they’ll make them based on what they see as maturity.”

And with that Badani emphasized that Red Hat’s public PaaS and private PaaS share the same code base. Red Hat started its public PaaS around two years ago, so the platform has been put through the paces, he said.

The 2.0 release of the private PaaS that Red Hat is unveiling today adds a few new features including OpenStack Heat templates for easier deployment; a new admin console with added visibility into resources being used by the PaaS; support for Node.js; and new ways to define permissions to users that may be collaborating on projects.

Red Hat has a lot at stake, not just with its PaaS products but with its cloud strategy overall. Badani was out front about that. “In the last 18 months we’ve completely transformed the company,” he said. During that time it launched a public PaaS, a private PaaS offering and a public IaaS service. Via acquisitions it has moved into the cloud management space and software defined storage. Red Hat is trying to transition from a Linux software provider to a cloud player.

That puts it in league with a host of other traditional enterprise vendors who all see the trend to cloud and are scrambling to transition their offerings to meet the new demands. Only those that manage to figure out how to best capitalize on the move to the cloud will make it through that transition.

Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring and on Google+. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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