Red Hat tries to sell its cloud stack on cost, but will it work?

Summary:Red Hat has announced the pricing for its software stack for building and managing infrastructure as a service cloud platforms, but does it have what it takes to win customers from VMware?

Red Hat hopes to persuade companies to manage virtual workloads using its cloud stack by offering lower prices than competitors, but are low prices enough to tempt customers Red Hat's way?

The open source giant yesterday revealed the pricing for its Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure and Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, which combine the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OS (RHEL) with the KVM hypervisor and Red Hat distribution of OpenStack, the open source suite of tools for setting up and managing a cloud infrastructure.

The software stack is designed to manage the setting up and running of virtualised compute, storage and networking pools that make up a cloud platform – using a mix of Red Hat and OpenStack software. The idea is the platform can be used both to build a private or private infrastructure as a service cloud, while Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure adds tools to allow for more sophisticated policy-based and services-oriented orchestration.

Red Hat is entering into an arena already crowded with players who want to be a one-stop infrastructure-as-a-service provider – such as Microsoft and VMware – but Red Hat is hoping to best the competition with lower prices - one third of the cost of a competing VMware-based offering according to Red Hat - and an unlimited number of guest licences.

But while the price might be right, a lack of integration between the software layers in the stack may be sticking point for firms already considering a VMware-based alternative.

"The issue is not so much the price but the design of the package," said Laurent Lachal, who leads Ovum Software Group's cloud computing research.

Lachal points to Red Hat CloudForms, a tool to manage workloads across different flavours of public and private cloud stacks which is part of Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure, which he says "cannot really manage" OpenStack tools.

Red Hat also needs to address the issue of the different tools in the stack doing the same thing, said Lachal, arguing there is an overlap of functionality between RHEL-OP, CloudForms and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, its implementation of the KVM hypervisor for desktops and servers.

VMware has an advantage, according to Lachal, in that it is further along with rationalising the various software components into a single cloud stack and in that it has greater control over the development of each component in its stack than Red Hat, which has to consider the wants of various open source communities.

Lachal said: "Will the Red Hat infrastructure cloud keep their customer base happy? Yes.

"Will it enable Red Hat to go into VMware accounts and get them to change allegiance? At the moment, not really."

Future updates to Red Hat's software will address some of the issues raised by Lachal. A spokesman for Red Hat said the Autumn update to CloudForms will add the ability to manage OpenStack.

As for overlap in the functionality between Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and RHEL OpenStack Platform software, the Red Hat spokesman said that each serves a very different need.

"Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform are focused on different environments — traditional virtualization versus Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud," he said.

"They run very different workloads, and enterprises expect to run both types of environments in parallel for quite some time."

The price

The pricing for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) OpenStack Platform Premium (24x7 support) is $4,499/socket-pair/year. RHEL OpenStack Platform Standard (business hours support) is $3,449/socket-pair/year.

A second offering RHEL OpenStack Platform for Controller Nodes is optimised for server roles that will not run guest virtual machines. RHEL OpenStack Platform for Controller Nodes Premium is $2,799/socket-pair/year. RHEL OpenStack Platform for Controller Nodes Standard is $2,149/socket-pair/year.

Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure also includes CloudForms on top of RHEL OpenStack Platform, together with other tools more sophisticated policy-based and services-oriented orchestration. Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure Premium is $5,999/socket-pair/year. Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure Standard is $4,599/socket-pair/year. Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure (without guests) Premium is $3,599/socket-pair/year. Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure (without guests) Standard is $2,799/socket-pair/year.

Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.2 Premium is $1,498/socket-pair/year and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.2 Standard is $998/socket-pair/year.

Topics: Cloud, Linux, Open Source


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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