Red Hat warns of cloud 'lock-in'

Vendors such as Microsoft are attempting to take customers 'back to the '80s' by locking them into proprietary cloud services, according to open source vendor Red Hat
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor
Vendors of proprietary software are attempting to lock customers into cloud computing products, according to open source software company Red Hat.

Speaking at the Red Hat Summit in Chicago on Wednesday, Red Hat president of products and technologies, Paul Cormier, said vendors such as Microsoft were attempting to take customers "back to the '80s" with their cloud computing strategies. Microsoft, meanwhile, has told ZDNet UK that it is making "great progress" in supporting multiple vendors in the cloud.

"A lot of vendors are trying to gain back the lock-in of the '80s, especially in messaging and grid [technologies]," said Cormier. "Many customers are using proprietary technology to build out private clouds, which is a problem in the making. With our friend in Redmond, get sucked into this if you dare."

Cormier claimed that with the Windows Azure Platform, Microsoft's cloud services platform, customers were limited by lack of completely interoperable services.

"On this stack [Azure], you don't have a lot of wiggle room," said Cormier. "Microsoft is saying, 'You have to trust us, we'll go down this voyage together', but they are not there yet [in terms of interop]."

Cormier told ZDNet UK on Wednesday that Microsoft was not yet fully interoperable with Linux implementations, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

"We don't know whether Microsoft will bring Azure into RHEL," said Cormier. "As [Linux] is closed out of the stack, this is an opportunity for lock-in."

Cormier added that virtualisation vendor VMware was also attempting to lock customers into using its software, and that there were "a lot of black holes in VMware systems" in a criticism of VMware interoperability with RHEL.

Microsoft told ZDNet UK on Wednesday that both the company and the technology industry as a whole are in the process of working out cloud interoperability issues. It added that Azure supports multiple protocols.

"We recognise our customers are working with mixed IT environments, so we've intensified our interoperability efforts across the company. This is exemplified in our open approach to cloud computing," said Vijay Rajagopalan, principal architect on the Microsoft interoperability strategy team.

"While our industry is still in the early stages of collaborating on cloud interoperability issues, we've made great progress with our products and standards support. For example, the Windows Azure platform supports a host of Microsoft and non-Microsoft languages, open protocols and technologies."

Rajagopalan said the Windows Azure Platform supports standards and protocols including SOAP, REST and XML, and that developers can use programming frameworks including .Net and PHP. He added that Microsoft is working with the open source community by funding software development kits (SDK) in Java, PHP and Ruby for the Azure Services Platform.

In future, Microsoft plans to fund SDK development for other languages and tools, including Eclipse frameworks and service dashboards, and web services such as Open ID, Rajagopalan said. 

VMware had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

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