Big Blue plus Red Hat plus Private Cloud equals Purple Reign?

What do you get when you combine something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue? You get IBM and Red Hat: A new private cloud market contender.

Just last week, IBM and Red Hat dove head first into Enterprise virtualization, after their March 2010 initial team-up to create a development and test cloud built on IBM hardware and Red Hat's KVM hypervisor software. So, according to the former press release, this Big Blue to Red Hat connection exists simply to "extend this partnership to include cloud computing ? broadening our reach and answering the strong customer demand for cloud computing services."

What does this extended, enterprise-oriented alliance do for IBM and Red Hat? As the title and press release suggests, IBM and Red Hat created this new partnership to plunge headlong into the private cloud market. Beware VMware, here comes the Purple Reign.

What are IBM and Red Hat going to do in the private cloud market?

First, they'll take on VMware's Vblock. Vblock is the integrated networking, storage, security, and management brought to you by EMC, VMware and Cisco. Basically, it's a turnkey virtualization solution with three tiers or company size ranges (markets) in mind.

There's Vblock 0 for small companies or those wanting to step into the shallow end of the virtualization pool. Vblock 1 is for medium to large-sized companies that want to build or rebuild their virtual infrastructures. And, Vblock 2 is for large companies and enterprises with multiple data centers that want to fully integrate virtualization into their current infrastructures or for those wanting to convert to a virtual-only path.

By offering its own brand of turnkey virtualization and private cloud solution, the IBM-Red Hat alliance can immediately prove a lower TCO compared to VMware's. What they can't show is a proven history with this solution. VMware has a significant advantage in this area.

Second, they'll farm their own customers. IBM and Red Hat both have huge customer bases but many of their customers have made commitments to VMware with IBM's and Red Hat's blessings. They'll now have to tell their customers that they have something better and they'll have to prove it before any company tosses out VMware in favor of an unknown quantity (KVM). This part of their reign will prove to be the most difficult of all.

Finally, they'll seek out new customers. Will cost be the only factor in convincing customers to make the switch from VMware to Purple Reign? No, certainly not.

But, how difficult will it be to grab customers away from VMware? The old saying used to be that, "You never get fired for buying IBM," but these days it's just as easy to say, "You never get fired for buying VMware." It will be interesting to see where their market focus will be. If I were a betting man, and just for the record, I'm not, I'd put my money on cloud-oriented startups as targets for the new alliance.

Startups are notoriously cash poor and look for innovative solutions and ways to maximize value for their few available dollars. Although, the startups might argue that public cloud solutions require no upfront cash outlay and offer a pay-as-you-go plan. It's hard to convince anyone that a private cloud solution, no matter what kind of ROI you can show, is better than that.

Fortunately, for IBM and Red Hat, KVM is an excellent product with performance to match. Since IBM manufactures hardware and Red Hat owns the software, it won't be difficult for them to place some gratis infrastructure in data centers for potential customers to try before they buy.

What do you think this partnership will bring to the table? Will your company take a chance on Purple Reign or will you stick with VMware regardless of cost? Talk back and let me know.