SUSE joins OpenStack; Red Hat's cloud isolated?

Is it finally time for cooperation in the cloud?

Another major player in the enterprise Linux arena has joined the OpenStack Project: SUSE Linux. And their arrival will continue the ongoing struggle for supremacy in the cloud computing market between Red Hat... and everyone else.

The official announcement of SUSE Linux's partnership with OpenStack is not going to be made until tomorrow, but an entry made yesterday on the SUSE Blog preempts the division's announcement somewhat. The blog entry highlights a BrainShare 2011 keynote address made on Oct. 18 by Michael Miller, VP Global Alliances & Marketing.

"By combining OpenStack technology and the OpenStack framework with SUSE Linux Enterprise technology, we will build and deliver an all-open source cloud infrastructure solution that is operating system and hypervisor agnostic," Miller told BrainShare attendees Friday.

SUSE Linux, a division of Attachmate, joins a pretty long line of Linux and enterprise players that have jumped into the OpenStack Project since the project's founding by Rackspace and NASA in 2010, a list that includes Canonical, HP, and Dell. OpenStack has been managed by Rackspace subsidiary OpenStack LLC, but the cloud project announced earlier this month that it would be moving to a foundation-based form of governance next year.

OpenStack's cloud infrastructure services are being countered by Red Hat's cloud management platform Aeolus, as Red hat tries to assert its own spin on how cloud management should be handled. And, true to form, they are questioning OpenStack's bonafides.

"'You see a lot of people dabbling [in the open-source cloud], but the question is: When do we get real code and real contributions from third parties? There's the OpenStack project that has a lot of people signing up, but when you talk to the people, the vast majority is the press release; a lot of people are keeping their options open,'" Red Hat Vice President and General Manager of Cloud Computing Scott Crenshaw told The Register this August.

Yet, as more and more enterprise vendors sign up with OpenStack--even if they aren't contributing that much, as Red Hat implies--Red Hat becomes increasingly isolated with its own cloud offerings. They know it, too, as they ratcheted up their marketing attempts to pull down OpenStack this summer.

Which begs the question: will Red Hat always try to assert dominance over every new open source technology, or will they ever just join the broader community when something like OpenStack comes along and try to work out their revenue stream in another way?

I think, being a publicly traded company, they have limited options when it comes to this sort of strategy. Red Hat's shareholders want to see Red Hat dominating. When Red Hat cooperates--and they assuredly do cooperate with the free and open source software community--then in their minds it has to be from a position of strength.

In a perfect world, it would be nice to let each company or open source project have their specialties: Red Hat has the enterprise server, Canonical has the desktop, and SUSE Linux has virtualization and appliances, just as an example. But when the bottom line is at stake, it seems that commercial vendors want to have it all, and only cooperate when they are are in the lead.

I do not know in detail how OpenStack and Aeolus compare to each other, nor do I know which service has better features to offer end users. I'm sure this will all be settled in the marketplace.

It's just too bad that all this effort is wasted in competition, instead of harnessed in true cooperation.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Open for Discussion blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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