Red Hat looks to stand out with open APIs

Offering application programming interfaces that allow businesses to move workloads hassle-free from one virtual environment to another will differentiate open source software vendor from competitors, notes Red Hat exec.

The ability to scale out to third-party vendors without worrying about vendor lock-in, as well as the ability to move virtual workloads between different environments, are benefits of open application programming interfaces (APIs) that Red Hat has been espousing for a while now.

Dirk Peter van Leeuwen, the open source software vendor's Asia-Pacific vice president of sales, shared that Red Hat's Linux-based systems currently power the cloud platforms of vendors such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), NTT, Fujitsu and IBM. With APIs that straddle these cloud infrastructure providers, van Leeuwen said customers need not worry about finding compatible cloud vendors to scale out to when they run out of resources.

During a recent interview with ZDNet Asia, he also pointed to the company's Deltacloud project which was initiated in September 2009 as another tool that will help meet companies' needs in terms of having an interoperable cloud environment. The project aims to foster an "ecosystem of developers, tools, scripts and applications which can interoperate across both public and private clouds".

Red Hat is currently one of the group's main sponsors but does not drive its development, van Leeuwen revealed.

He added that these company initiatives are unlike the business models proposed by competitors such as Microsoft and VMware, which would leave customers dependent or "locked-in" to their hardware offerings.

The executive pointed out that VMware's launch of its open source Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service (PaaS) platform in April is "comforting" and an endorsement of Red Hat's open source mantra, which he added is "forcing other vendors to reconsider their business models".

According to VMware's Web site, Cloud Foundry provides development tools to build applications in both public and private clouds using a range of coding frameworks such as Java, Ruby on Rails and Node.JS. It also said the source code had been put up online, allowing the community to "extend and integrate Cloud Foundry with any framework, application service or infrastructure cloud".

Red Hat this week launched the beta version of its PaaS service, named OpenShift. ZDNet Asia's sister site ZDNet UK noted in an earlier report that OpenShift is integrated with the JBoss middleware layer, enabling key enterprise functions such as transactions, business rules and messaging. The platform also supports a variety of development frameworks such as Spring, Seam, Rails, Django and Java EE.

According to Red Hat, the offering is not yet fully open source. "Some parts [of OpenShift] are open source but other parts, like the user interface, are preserved. OpenShift is planning to be open eventually," Red Hat's PaaS master, Isaac Roth, said in the report.


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