Red Hat Open-Sources OpenShift PaaS And Calls For Cloud Without Vendor Lock-In

It’s official. Red Hat has open-sourced the code to its Platform as a Service (PaaS) product OpenShift as of Monday. The commercial Linux distributor open-sourced the code for its OpenShift Origin product under an Apache License version 2. Developers can now download OpenShift Origin for free and deploy applications on their laptop or behind a firewall. Developers can also deploy OpenShift Origin on top of OpenStack, the open source IaaS platform that has the support of over 160 organizations including Red Hat itself, which is a Platinum member of the OpenStack Foundation that presides over its governance.

OpenShift Origin is open-sourced within the context of a “meritocratic community project, regardless of developer affiliation.” Red Hat’s commitment to a meritocratic governance model for contributions to OpenShift Origin’s code base recalls the OpenStack Foundation’s pledge of a “technical meritocracy” with respect to OpenStack’s software development.

Red Hat will serve as the principal contributor to OpenShift Origin in the early stages, but invites input from the developer community at large. Red Hat’s wiki on the OpenShift Origin community reminds readers of the company’s historical commitment to “the open source way” as follows:

Red Hat is the initial main contributor to OpenShift Origin, and is the initial donor to the community. Red Hat does not intend to unilaterally dictate roadmaps, to institute self-serving governance models or to censor critical commentary. Please remember, the people who work at Red Hat do so because they also believe in the open source way.

Red Hat underscores its intention not to “unilaterally dictate roadmaps” or “institute self-serving governance models” but rather to foster a development environment marked by “good faith, merit, open development, working community, and well written code.

Red Hat’s blog post announcing the open-sourcing of OpenShift Origin elaborated on its philosophy of meritocratic code development by taking a thinly disguised jab at VMware and its control over the open source Cloud Foundry PaaS platform:

The cloud in general, and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and PaaS implementations specifically, should not be vehicles that promote vendor lock-in, nor should they be under the control or “guidance” of vendors. For the cloud to remain open and vibrant, implementations should be truly open, not only in license, but in governance. The OpenShift Origin project sets a high bar for PaaS offerings, developed and governed by developers, for developers.

Here, Red Hat implicitly questions the open-ness of VMware’s Cloud Foundry given the disproportionate influence had by VMware over the Cloud Foundry project. With these notes about the importance of true open source cloud computing, Red Hat appears to be quietly gearing up for a major entry into both the PaaS and IaaS spaces. OpenShift Origin is intended as the product that will lead developers and organizations “upstream” to its commercial variants of OpenShift such as OpenShift Power, which runs on Red Hat’s IaaS platform CloudForms. Moreover, Red Hat’s commentary about IaaS and PaaS platforms that avoid vendor lock-in hint at the beginnings of a marketing platform that positions the Raleigh-based Linux giant as a major player in the OpenStack space.

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Red Hat Delivers Storage Appliance On Amazon Web Services

Red Hat is ready to deliver an online storage solution that runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS) called the Red Hat Virtual Storage Appliance for Amazon Web Services. Based on technology from its recent acquisition Gluster, the Red Hat Virtual Storage Appliance for Amazon Web Services is intended to provide enterprise grade cloud storage with high availability, performance and scalability. The appliance enables users to aggregate instances of Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) and Amazon EC2 to obtain a highly scalable, virtualized storage environment that allows enterprises to leverage the cloud for storage purposes in addition to application deployment. The Red Hat storage appliance boasts asynchronous and synchronous file replication. Synchronous file replication ensures replication across multiple availability zones within a single AWS region, whereas asynchronous file replication enables availability across more than one AWS region. Importantly, the appliance is POSIX compliant, meaning enterprises need not rearchitect applications to transition them to the cloud. Because of its POSIX compliance, the Red Hat Virtual Storage Appliance for Amazon Web Services can accommodate Intel-based Unix applications.

Red Hat intends to make its storage appliance available within the platforms of other cloud providers as well. Provisionally, however, the Amazon Web Services partnership with Red Hat represents yet another coup for the Seattle cloud giant as it consolidates its branding as a one stop shopping ground for cloud, Big Data and storage solutions. Red Hat acquired Gluster, the company that provided the underlying technology for its virtual storage solution, in October 2011 for $136 million in cash.

Red Hat Broadens Access To Ceylon Programming Language

Red Hat released a website dedicated to its new programming language Ceylon, a Java Virtual Machine-based language that aims to deliver solutions for some of the drawbacks of Java. The website provides links to access Ceylon code through GitHub, even though the language has not been formally released to the public. Additionally, the Ceylon website contains directions for downloading Ceylon’s Integrated Development Environment (IDE), ahead of the official release expected to arrive upon completion of the Ceylon Project’s first milestone.

Red Hat developer Gavin King provided the first sustained elaboration on Ceylon in April 2011 at QCon Beijing, the Enterprise Software Development Conference. In his keynote address at QCon, King noted that Java provided an exemplary combination of virtual machine execution, automatic memory management and safe referencing, static typing, lexical scoping and readable syntax. Moreover, King described Java as easy to learn, robust and illustrative of a culture of openness with a “huge tradition of developing and sharing reusable code (frameworks, libraries).”

However, King’s keynote remarked upon the importance of an alternative to Java by noting that “after ten often-frustrating years developing frameworks for Java, we simply can’t go any further without a better solution for defining structured data and user interfaces for the following reasons”:

• The interdependence of Java with XML
• The difficulty of defining a user interface in Java
• Lack of modular solutions and reliance instead on multiple platforms
• Lack of support for first class and higher-order functions
• Difficulty of meta-programming in Java

Ceylon’s syntax features attributes that differentiate it from Java such as inherent modularity and a declarative syntax for defining user interfaces, structured data and hierarchical structures. According to its website, Ceylon positions itself in relation to Java and C# as follows:

Ceylon is deeply influenced by Java. You see, we’re fans of Java, but we know its limitations inside out. Ceylon keeps the best bits of Java but improves things that in our experience are annoying, tedious, frustrating, difficult to understand, or bugprone. Furthermore, Ceylon makes it much easier to write generic code (frameworks or libraries), or to naturally describe treelike structures (especially user interfaces). Of course, Java isn’t the only language with good ideas, so Ceylon looks for inspiration in other language families, in everything from Smalltalk to ML.

Despite its differences from Java, Ceylon is intended to appeal to Java developers who can migrate to the language with speed. Ceylon is one of the most recent languages to run atop the Java Virtual Machine alongside JRuby, Scala and Ruby.

Red Hat Acquires Gluster for $136 Million In Cash

Red Hat, provider of open source enterprise software solutions, announced Tuesday that it had reached a deal to acquire the online storage company Gluster for $136 million. Gluster was founded in 2005 with the objective of objective of leveraging open source software and commodity hardware to provide enterprise customers with public and private cloud based storage solutions. Gluster FS constitutes the core of Gluster’s offering in the form of a distributed file system that can scale to thousands of client terminals and petabytes of storage. Gluster competes with Sun Microsystem’s open source Lustre file system and IBM’s General Parallel File System. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, the company currently has over 100 enterprise customers including Box.net, the personalized internet radio service Pandora and Deutsche Bank AG.

Red Hat’s acquisition of Gluster means that the commercial Linux distributor enters the $4 billion market for unstructured data storage. More importantly, the deal gives Red Hat the opportunity to define baseline standards for enterprise level management of unstructured data such as emails, log files and documents. Speaking of Red Hat’s motivations for the acquisition, Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens remarked:

The explosion of big data and the new paradigm of cloud computing are converging, forcing IT to re-think storage investments that are cost-effective, manageable and scale for the future. Our customers are looking for software-based storage solutions that manage their file-based data on-premise, in the cloud and bridging between the two.

With unstructured data growth (such as log files, virtual machines, email, audio, video and documents), the 90’s paradigm of forcing everything into expensive, single-system DBMS residing on an internal corporate SAN has become unwieldy and impractical.

Stevens indicates how the proliferation of unstructured data at the enterprise level renders cloud based solutions increasingly attractive and viable. Whereas Red Hat excels with open source open source operating systems, virtualization and cloud computing platforms such as CloudForms and OpenShift, its acquisition of Gluster fills a critical infrastructure need involving the management of on premise data in the cloud.

Gluster founder and CTO Anand Babu Periasamy commented on the synergies of the acquisition by noting: “We believe this is a perfect combination of technologies, strategies and cultures and is a great development for our customers, employees, investors and community. Gluster started off with a goal to be the Red Hat of storage. Now, we are the storage of Red Hat.” Red Hat acquired Gluster for $136 million in cash. As part of the acquisition, Red Hat will assume ownership of unvested Gluster equity and offer equity retention incentives to Gluster’s employees.

Red Hat’s OpenShift Becomes First PaaS to Support Java EE 6

Red Hat announced that its OpenShift Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering now supports Java Enterprise Edition 6 (Java EE 6) by means of its JBoss Application Server 7 on Wednesday. OpenShift’s support of Java EE 6 makes it the first PaaS development environment to support Java EE 6, differentiating it from competitors such as Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure and VMware Cloud Foundry. OpenShift’s support of Java EE 6 provides developers with access to the latest enhancements in Java technology and facilitates the migration of Java based applications to the cloud. Java EE 6 includes “Context and Dependency Injection (CDI), a standards-based, modern programming framework that makes it easier for developers to build dynamic applications and picks up where some proprietary frameworks left off.”

JBoss Application Server 7 enables OpenShift’s support of Java EE 6 and additionally marks the foundation of Red Hat’s forthcoming JBoss Enterprise Application 6. Released with limited access in May 2011, JBoss Enterprise Application 6 constitutes Red Hat’s vision of “the future of Java application platforms for both traditional and cloud-based environments.” JBoss Enterprise Application 6 is expected to be released for general access early in 2012.

Red Hat’s press release about OpenShift’s support of Java EE 6 noted that “the combination of OpenShift with JBoss application server now allows Java EE to be more easily scaled, managed and monitored in the cloud.” Moreover, “developers looking for a faster on-ramp to the cloud with built-in management and auto-scaling capabilities can use OpenShift so they can focus on coding mobile, social and enterprise applications while leaving stack setup, maintenance and operational concerns to a trusted hosted service.”
Scarcely three months old, OpenShift is an open source PaaS that supports Ruby, Python, Perl, PHP, Java EE, Spring, MySQL, SQLite, MongoDB, MemBase and Memcache.

Red Hat Enters IaaS and PaaS Space with CloudForms and OpenShift

At its May 2010 summit in Boston, Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, announced the launch of CloudForms and OpenShift, two products that represent the company’s boldest entrance into the cloud computing space so far. CloudForms marks an IaaS service offering that enables enterprises to create and manage a private or hybrid cloud computing environment. CloudForms provides customers with Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) functionality that enables management of an application deployed over a constellation of physical, virtualized and cloud-based environments. Whereas VMWare’s vCloud enables customers to manage virtualized machines, Red Hat’s CloudForms delivers a more granular form of management functionality that allows users to manage applications. Moreover, CloudForms offers a resource management interface that confronts the problem in the industry known as virtual sprawl wherein IT administrators are tasked with the problem of managing multiple servers, hypervisors, virtual machines and clusters. Red Hat’s IaaS product also offers customers the ability to create integrated, hybrid cloud environments that leverage a combination of physical servers, virtual servers and public clouds such as Amazon EC2.

OpenShift represents Red Hat’s PaaS product that enables open source developers to build cloud computing environments from within a specified range of development frameworks. OpenShift supports Java, Python, PHP and Ruby applications such as Spring, Seam, Weld, CDI, Rails, Rack, Symfony, Zend Framework, Twisted, Django and Java EE. In supporting Java, Python, PHP and Ruby, OpenShift offers the most flexible development environment in the industry as compared to Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk, Microsoft Azure and Google’s App Engine. For storage, OpenShift features SQL and NoSQL in addition to a distributed file system. Red Hat claims OpenShift delivers greater portability than other PaaS products because customers will be able to migrate their deployments to another cloud computing vendor using the DeltaCloud inter-operability API. The only problem with this marketing claim is that DeltaCloud is by no means the most widely accepted cloud computing inter-operability API in the industry. Red Hat submitted the DeltaCloud API to the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) in August 2010, but the Red Hat API faces stiff competition from open source versions of Amazon’s EC2 APIs as well as APIs from the OpenStack project.

In summary, Red Hat’s entrance into the IaaS and PaaS space promises to significantly change the cloud computing landscape. CloudForms signals genuine innovation in the IaaS space because of its Application Lifecycle Management capabilities and hybrid infrastructure flexibility. OpenShift, meanwhile, presents direct competition to Google Apps, Microsoft Azure and Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk because of the breadth of its deployment platform and claims about increased portability. What makes OpenShift so intriguing is it that constitutes Red Hat’s most aggressive attempt so far to claim DeltaCloud as the standard API for the cloud computing industry.