451 Take on Red Hat-CentOS

There was a somewhat quiet, cost-free acquisition of sorts in the Linux world earlier this year when Red Hat announced it was joining forces with Red Hat Enterprise Linux community clone CentOS. The move, which effectively brings organization, governance, backing and technology of CentOS under Red Hat’s brim, is interesting for a few reasons.

First, it illustrates the continued presence and power of unpaid community Linux distributions like CentOS. Second, it’s part of the changing Linux market, which is being driven by cloud computing and new types of uses on the rise. Third, it also may be a sign that open source software users and customers are exerting more influence than ever before.

Read the full article at LinuxInsider.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2012.06.22

Topics for this podcast:

*Sauce Labs grows with fast Selenium application testing
*MySQL, NoSQL, NewSQL survey results and analysis
*Microsoft’s Linux love leaves out Red Hat
*Hadoop roundup with Cloudera, Hortonworks and VMware
*2012 Future of Open Source Survey highlights

iTunes or direct download (28:28, 5.1MB)

Microsoft hearts Linux, just not Red Hat

Just when you thought it couldn’t top itself — having contributed Linux kernel code under the GPL, broadly supported Linux alongside Windows with its systems management and other software, and spun off a new subsidiary dedicated to openness, Microsoft showed yet more Linux and open source love recently, adding an impressive Linux lineup to supported software on its Azure cloud.

However, there’s one major Linux player that’s sort of getting left out of the love-fest. It’s enterprise Linux leader Red Hat and its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), which has to sit by while other distributions, including RHEL community clone CentOS and market competitors SUSE and Ubuntu, get first-class treatment in Microsoft’s Azure cloud.

Read the full article at LinuxInsider.

Our view on the Changing Linux Landscape is out

We are pleased to present our latest CAOS special report, ‘The Changing Linux Landscape.’ This latest in our series of long-format reports takes a more in depth look at the Linux server market and how cloud computing, competition and the confluence of application development and IT operations known as devops are all affecting it.

Basically, we still see commercial vendors Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) leading the market, but there are significant changes afoot, ushered in by cloud computing, wide use of other distributions such as Ubuntu, and continued use of unpaid community Linux such as CentOS and Debian. In addition, other distributions such Oracle Enterprise Linux continue to evolve and grow, as do the providers of Linux support, which now includes Microsoft. These additional competitors and choices, along with the new way of developing and deploying enterprise applications known as ‘devops,’ are all driving and disrupting the Linux server market.

This means challenges and opportunities – particularly in PaaS, which embodies devops practices – for both vendors and users. The report focuses on market dynamics with competitive analysis of leading Linux distributions, analysis of adoption drivers and hurdles, and customer case studies highlighting how Linux is put to work in today’s cloud computing environments.

Microsoft, broadest supporter of Linux

In writing recently about the continuation (451 subscribers) of the Microsoft-SUSE Windows-Linux interoperability and patent agreement, it occurred to me that in a sense, Microsoft is the broadest supporter of Linux in the industry. Microsoft obviously supports SUSE Linux quite deeply given nearly five years of work with its commercial backer. Microsoft somewhat begrudgingly entered into a virtualization agreement with Red Hat, so that both could better support one another’s operating systems and hypervisors. Finally, Microsoft has been among the most aggressive vendors in the industry to back unpaid, community Linux, such as CentOS, for which it unveiled support last month.

Indeed, Microsoft has consistently displayed some respect for Linux in general, including its contribution of code to the Linux kernel under the GPL.

Despite the concerns about Microsoft’s control over SUSE Linux or Linux in general, the fact of the matter is Microsoft’s investment of both dollars, including its SUSE deals worth a few hundred million, and investment of of resources, such as the interoperability work with Novell/SUSE, the kernel contribution, the cross-OS and hypervisor support work with Red Hat and the support of CentOS, Microsoft is significantly supporting Linux development and use in the enterprise.

I wrote last year about the uncertainty around Novell/SUSE kernel contribution given the Attachmate acquisition.

That all-important contribution from one of the key drivers behind the Linux kernel will now likely continue in large part thanks to Microsoft. And while we cannot simply forget Microsoft’s past actions, such as resisting the GPL, the company’s position as a broad supporter of Linux certainly illustrates how we live in a much different Linux landscape today.

What the world’s fastest systems say about Linux

I’ve been tracking the Top500 Supercomputer List with a particular eye on Linux for some time now, highlighting how Linux continues to power the majority of the world’s fastest supercomputing systems. So it’s no surprise to see continued dominance for Linux, but there are some interesting changes every six months when the new fastest supercomputer system list comes out. The most recent list, released last month, reinforces Linux leadership as every single one of the top 10 fastest supercomputing systems in the world runs Linux. We had previously seen Linux in four of the top five systems or seven to eight of the top 10, but this year was marked by a sweep of the top 10 for Tux.

Read more at LinuxInsider.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2011.05.27

Topics for this podcast:

*Smaller PaaS players unite with DotCloud-Duostack deal
*Typesafe taps Scala, Akka, open source and devops
*Changes continue at Continuent
*Future of Open Source Survey debrief
*Changes afoot at the OSI
*Microsoft moves to support CentOS Linux

iTunes or direct download (32:15, 5.5MB)

Community Linux love from Microsoft

One of big stories out of the Open Source Business Conference this week was Microsoft’s announced support for the CentOS community Linux distribution, a free clone of RHEL that nonetheless enjoys significant enterprise and cloud computing use, as we’ve covered extensively, including a special report that is currently being updated, in part, with a new survey.

This is not the first time MS has displayed love for unpaid, community Linux, given its 2009 contribution of GPL-licensed code to the Linux kernel. This was significant in that it was contribution and participation by Microsoft in the Linux kernel, beyond one of its partner’s Linux distributions, such as the case of Novell and SUSE Linux and more recently, Red Hat and its RHEL for mutual, customer-demanded virtualization support (451 subscribers) between Microsoft and Red Hat.

It seems Microsoft understands that unlike pirated Windows, which it considers a loss, the use of free, unpaid Linux — particularly by large enterprise, government and other organizations — is a big opportunity for it.

True, use of community Linux is typically driven by cost savings and the capability of sizable organizations to self-manage their Linux servers, often involving no payment. However, our research indicates there is often is still a need for higher level support and, more commonly, the ‘insurance factor’ of having a commercial vendor behind your infrastructure software so you, or your boss or board, have someone to call or blame if things go wrong. Microsoft is capable of supporting CentOS in both cases of technical support and being the insurance for an organization. It will be interesting to see the kind of reaction and traction the company gets from customers, presumably Windows shops, running CentOS.

It was only a couple of years ago we were writing about the death, and ongoing life of CentOS.

Today, it continues to be one of the most fascinating open source software projects in that it has no formal commercial backer, not even a foundation, but yet benefits from a solid, dedicated development team that continues to push the OS forward. We, along with Microsoft, continue to hear about use of CentOS increasingly in cloud computing, where it can be used, often free of charge, to add, subtract, scale and scrap as needed. It is, like other Linux distributions, also popular among hosting and other service providers, who again are primarily building public, private and hybrid cloud environments and ecosystems.

This is why again it is very interesting to see Microsoft supporting CentOS with HyperV and Windows. It’s not the first vendor to do so, as server giant HP has supported CentOS, Debian and other community distros to some extent in its server and support offerings. Microsoft’s CentOS support is certainly another example of how the landscape and market for various Linux distributions and operating systems in general is currently undergoing disruption.

451 CAOS Links 2011.05.17

The Future of Open Source. de Icaza launches Xamarin. Funding for Datameer. And more.

# North Bridge Venture Partners announced the results of its annual Future of Open Source Survey, conducted in partnership with The 451 Group.

# Miguel de Icaza announced the launch of Xamarin, a new company focused on Mono-based products.

# Datameer raised $9.25m for its Hadoop-based analytics from Kleiner Perkins and Redpoint Ventures.

# Microsoft announced support for CentOS on Windows Server2008 R2 Hyper-V as part of a new focus on community Linux.

# Protecode released Developer Assistant for real-time open source license management.

# OpenLogic released some new research into the use of the various open source licenses by developers and enterprises.

# Mark Webbink is the new editor of Groklaw.

# SAP and Red Hat improved support services for users running SAP applications on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

# C12G Labs announced the availability of OpenNebulaPro 2.2.

# The Open Source Integration Initiative was launched to develop a modular ‘stack’ solution for open source business software.

# Icinga released version 1.4 of its open source monitoring software.

# EnterpriseDB’s Postgres Plus Advanced Server is now available on HP-UX.

A new SUSE Linux, separate from Novell

I’m currently researching and writing about the changing Linux and operating system landscape, which is being impacted by cloud computing, additional competitors and devops, as well as the ongoing impact of unpaid, community Linux distributions such as CentOS and Ubuntu.

Another one of the changes underway is what’s happening with SUSE Linux, largely considered the second-leading enterprise distribution behind Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which has undergone some uncertainty thanks to the Attachmate deal to purchase the distribution and separate it from Novell.

To continue the strong SLES development and address this uncertainty, it was good to see recently extended support for SLES to provide greater assurance to the community and customers. We’ve also mentioned before the credit due to Attachmate for communicating its intentions on OpenSUSE –important since both RHEL and SLES are bolstered, particularly in cloud computing in my opinion, by their unpaid, community cousins: Fedora and OpenSUSE. We would note we also continue to see strong support for Fedora community, development and openness from Red Hat.

Given we have wondered in the past about whether the SUSE Linux technology and business (including OpenSUSE) would have more opportunity separate from Novell’s other business in networking, identity management and collaboration, it will be interesting to see what happens. Will a dedicated SLES focus lead to ore market traction? Will it accelerate the promotion and use of SLES and/or OpenSUSE in cloud computing, where open source continues to be significant? Will the contribution to the Linux kernel from SUSE and OpenSUSE continue? Will there be another sale of SUSE Linux? Perhaps, but it looks more and more like we’ll see an independent SUSE Linux operating out of its home town of Nuremberg, Germany. And while I continue to see and sense some degree of uncertainty around SUSE Linux, I am also getting reports that there is still good loyalty to the SUSE Linux brand, technology and community.

Given the changes afoot in the Linux and operating system space, the change in ownership of SUSE is a relatively minor disruption. How well SUSE Linux, OpenSUSE and their supporters are able to tap into the driving trends of cloud computing and devops will be much more significant to the users and future of SUSE Linux, as well as any other version of the open source OS.

New Linux landscape emerging

Recent news that Linux vendor Red Hat is changing the way it releases code, described as ‘obfuscating’ or worse by some FOSS advocates, brings up an important discussion of complying not only wiith the letter of open source software licenses, norms and practices, but complying with the spirit of open source.

However, I’m going to leave that debate to others while I focus on another matter that is highlighted by Red Hat’s recent move: the changing enterprise Linux landscape. Red Hat’s move shows an intensifying competition in the Linux market, with Red Hat seeking to thwart or slow the copying and reselling of its code. It also highlights the change in positioning of Linux distributions, which are expanding beyond a couple of main distributions to a number of other possibilities, driven primarily by virtualization and cloud computing. Of course, there is also an impact from unpaid, community Linux distros, including CentOS, Debian and Ubuntu, as covered in our special report The Rise of Community Linux.

Indications are that the Linux market changes are continuing, with a greater impact from the unpaid community distributions, which are often ideal for stripping out or adding components for various virtualized and cloud computing deployments. Based on customer and vendor conversations, we also see Ubuntu as a much more important Linux distribution in the clouds, compared to the traditional enterprise server market. In fact, most polls and surveys indicate Ubuntu as the top Linux OS used for clouds, including our own. Finally, there is yet another Linux distribution that is not necessarily an ‘official’ Linux, but is certainly well-used in cloud computing: Amazon Linux. While the company does not promote its own Linux version, wide use of Amazon’s Linux AMI are, in effect, Amazon Linux. The same might be said for OpenStack, which is being described by Rackspace and other backers as a ‘cloud operating system.’

Given we have described 2011 as the year of Linux in the clouds, we will be watching closely to see how the market, the use of Linux and the various distributions and their backers continue to evolve. This will also be the focus of a new special report from The 451 Group that is coming soon.

2011 to be year of Linux in the clouds

It’s time for our annual outlook on Linux for the new year, and after spending the last few years highlighting non-desktop Linux in 2008, the range of Linux in 2009 and hidden Linux in 2010, they will all be coming together in 2011, which will be the year of Linux in cloud computing. This is a trend that has been building over the past few years, but I believe it will hit a tipping point in 2011.

The significance of Linux to cloud computing and vice versa has been building for some time already, with the use of unpaid, community Linux in the clouds, commercial Linux from the likes of Red Hat, Novell, Canonical and others in the clouds and a general propensity toward Linux and other open source software in cloud computing. We also covered the recent Red Hat-Eucalyptus Systems deal, which is all about Linux in cloud computing.

As we’ve covered in the past, we see Linux use driven both ways — from unpaid, community Linux to paid subscriptions and also from paid Linux to unpaid versions and self support — but regardless of whether it is Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Suse Linux Enterprise Server, Ubuntu Linux, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, OpenSuse or other version, there is more and more Linux used for cloud computing. This includes not only public and private cloud infrastructure, but also as cloud services, with many Linux flavors available on various public clouds. We’ve also covered the advantages of open source software, and while we continue to see cost and flexibility drive use of Linux in cloud computing, we also see advantages to open source licensing in simplified, less intrusive and less frustrating license terms, management and support (meaning an open source alternative does not typically bring the dreaded audits and sales pressure of traditional, proprietary software).

There’s no question that formidable competition looms on a number of fronts, particularly from Microsoft’s Azure cloud which is winning interest and adoption from many users, but Linux is still consistently identified and used as a core building block to all types of cloud computing, and I believe we’ll see more of this than ever in 2011.

Linux Foundation highlights growth, but what versions?

The Linux Foundation has released some survey findings as it hosts its End User Summit. We agree with many of the findings, and discuss our take below. But we also wonder more about which version of Linux these large enterprises are using for their own infrastructure, for cloud computing and for the technologies and services they build on top of Linux. More on that below, too, but first, some thoughts on the survey results.

One of the more interesting findings from the survey pertains to migrations to Linux from Windows. More than 36% of respondents said their Linux deployments in the last two years had been from Windows. More than 31% were moving to Linux from Unix, 13.5% reported no new Linux deployments and most, 66%, said Linux deployments of the last two years have been centered on new applications and services (greenfield deployments).

In terms of Windows migration, we agree there are significant drivers for Linux over Windows in cloud computing, where more than 70% of Linux Foundation respondents cited Linux as their primary cloud platform. We agree that Linux appears to be the preferred route to cloud computing offerings, both public and private (as covered in our special report, Seeding the Clouds). However, we must also acknowledge that the continued, wider availability of Microsoft’s Azure is having and will continue to have an impact on the market and may help Microsoft mitigate the cloud connection to Linux, according to cloud users and mixed-environment shops with which we’ve spoken. Another point to remember here is that Microsoft, which has changed significantly in its approach and strategy with Linux and open source, will likely support other hypervisors and perhaps Linux with Azure as well.

The Linux Foundation survey also highlights continued gains for Linux at the expense of Unix, with 19.8% of respondents indicating a decrease in their use of the OS (compared with 18% decreasing use of Windows and only 1.8% decreasing use of Linux). Those planning on increased use were 76% for Linux, 41% for Windows and 19.5% for Unix. We also wonder whether Oracle’s end of support for OpenSolaris will perpetuate Unix-Linux migration?

We also saw consistency from our own research in the Linux Foundation survey’s coverage of the drivers for and benefits of Linux. We asked more broadly about the factors driving open source software, not just Linux, but the results from both our survey at the end of last year and the recent Linux Foundation survey do match up. While cost savings was cited by our own survey respondents as the top reason for adoption, flexibility was cited as the top advantage after adoption. Similarly, the Linux Foundation survey showed that 67.5% of respondents cited ‘features/technical superiority’ as the top driver for Linux adoption. Next, with 65.4% of LF respondents, was ‘lower total cost of ownership.’ A recurring theme we are hearing in terms of Linux and open source cost savings centers on licensing. Not only do users and customers report cost savings from royalty-free open source software, but they also cite license maintenance as a key source of cost savings. Basically, because software is open source, organizations do not have to worry about convoluted IT audits and keeping track of licensing across physical, virtual, cloud and other resources. Though there still may be some trepidation around open source licensing, it seems that Linux and open source software represent both cost-savings and simplicity in terms of licensing for many users, particularly in cloud computing.

While Linux Foundation does not delve into the version of Linux, we recently asked open source consumers about their Linux choices. We have covered unpaid, community Linux in the enterprise since 2008 and more recently community Linux in the clouds, but we were amazed to hear the response when we asked 286 open source users about their Linux choices. More than 70% (206) of respondents cited ‘unpaid community Linux, such as CentOS or Debian’ as the distribution they use. 12.6% reported use of ‘paid, subscription Linux, such as RHEL or SLES.’ With respondents able to check multiple categories, another 26% said they used a combination of paid and unpaid community Linux and another 5% cited other options. Our survey pool of more than 1,700 open source consumers is made up of about 65% with 50 or fewer employees, 10% with 50 to 100 employees, 7% with 100 to 249 employees, another 9% with 250 to 2,500, and 6% with more than 2,500 employees, but we were interested by the fact that only 16% of our survey pool claimed to be non-paying open source users. We also acknowledge the Linux Foundation survey was aimed at large enterprises and government organizations with $500m or more in annual revenue and 500 or more employees.

Still, we continue to watch community Linux, particularly in cloud computing uses, and have no doubt it is having an impact on the paid, enterprise Linux market, mainly in terms of pricing, support and flexibility.

Linux thunderstorm in the clouds

There’s a thunderous battle brewing in the enterprise IT market and it’s all about Linux. The battle brings new names to the fight as well, from the largest of cloud providers Oracle, Amazon and VMWare to smaller upstarts tuning Linux specifically for cloud computing and its users, such as the hoster and service provider-oriented CloudLinux.

As for Oracle and its introduction of Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel, this has been causing a stir in enterprise Linux circles. However, I have to agree with Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst that this latest Oracle move is quite reminiscent of when Oracle Unbreakable Linux, later known as Oracle Enterprise Linux, hit the market in 2006-2007. It was supposed to wipe out Red Hat, but it didn’t. I expect with plenty of Oracle shops in which to grow, Oracle’s Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel will manage to move ahead without much disruption to Red Hat’s growth, which based on its latest earnings call is healthy.

Oracle’s Solaris, on the other hand, continues to face an ongoing challenge of defection to Linux, whether Red Hat, Ubuntu, CentOS, SUSE or other OS including BSD. As we’ve covered on the CAOS blog, Oracle’s decision to kill off OpenSolaris may impact customers wary of the company’s growing presence throughout the software stack and now in hardware, too, leading many to finally make a decision on moving ahead with Solaris or moving to Linux. There’s also another option on the table now that we’ve seen the launch of OpenIndiana, a fork of OpenSolaris supported by the Illumos Foundation.

There’s another computing giant making noise around Linux: Amazon, which, similar to Oracle, is seeking to supplant use of and payment for Red Hat’s or other Linux distributions by making available its own Linux Amazon Machine Image (AMI) optimized for Amazon Web Services. There’s no question the presence and continued, increasing involvement from cloud players such as Amazon will impact what other vendors are offering and what customers are consuming in the cloud. This, and the announcement of OpenStack from Rackspace, are just the kinds of thing we can expect to see more of, as covered in our latest CAOS special report ‘Seeding the Clouds.’

It’s not just the largest of vendors that are getting in on the cloud computing action and traction for Linux. Another example is CloudLinux, a smaller vendor that aims its Linux, based on CentOS with added control panel and other features, squarely at service providers interested in cloud computing. Furthering its own efforts, CloudLinux recently announced continuing growth and an interesting deal with Ksplice to provide hosting service providers CloudLinux kernel updates without rebooting servers.

CloudLinux, as well as Canonical and its Ubuntu Linux, highlight the head start Red Hat, and to some extent its enterprise Linux counterpart Novell, have given other companies ready and willing to serve up Linux in the cloud. These vendors, many of which base their own offerings on CentOS, also highlight the ongoing presence of community Linux in cloud computing, a topic we’ve covered as well.

Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any crazier or more competitive, we haven’t even touched on the rumored, potential acquisition of Novell’s SUSE Linux by virtualization giant and cloud contender VMware, which has significant implications for the market. Sure VMware has been talking for years about how its software obfuscates the need for an OS, but hey, wasn’t it only a year ago when Oracle acted as if cloud computing didn’t exist? Turns out the clouds are for real, and it turns out Linux is more relevant than it ever has been. The real interesting thing is that in many ways, the competition is just getting started.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2010.06.11

Topics for this podcast:

*Linaro reinforces traction for mobile and embedded Linux
*Open source strategy spotlights: Novell, HP
*Riptano makes commercial play with Apache Cassandra
*Linux still tops in Top500 Supercomputers

iTunes or direct download (26:27, 7.3MB)

Linux supercomputing strength is generic and community

With every Top500 Supercomputing list, we like to check in on Linux, which maintains a dominant position after a relatively fast ascent, primarily at the expense of Unix, over the last several years.

One thing that is striking in the latest list is the dominance of generic Linux, which reportedly accounts for more than 80% of the world’s fastest supercomputing systems. Combined with named Linux distributions, primarily Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux, Linux accounts for 91% of these HPC systems. The Linux share of the Top500 list is even greater considering another 3% or more of systems that are mixed-OS, mostly with some form of Linux.

Another interesting highlight of the latest Top500 Supercomputer list is that use of community Linux is a significant factor here. We’ve covered unpaid, community Linux use in the enterprise for some time now, and we continue to see its impact on enterprise IT and as we see with the Top500 list, supercomputing. Similar to how we have seen community Linux grow in the enterprise, the impetus in HPC is as much about capability as it is about cost. These organizations have the teams and talent — and increasingly everybody has somebody who knows or has experience with effectively using Linux and open source software — to take advantage of Linux, whether building their own clusters for modeling and simulation, running or even providing virtual appliances and applications or building public, private or hybrid cloud computing architectures. Underlying that community Linux use, even in HPC, is a strong and growing presence on the list of one particular Linux that has been at the crux of increased consideration, use, support and profile of unpaid community Linux: CentOS. The unpaid, unsponsored (at least by any official company or even organization) clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux managed 1.4% with 7 supercomputing sites on the latest list, all this despite being declared dead last summer before developers got it back on track. CentOS is no doubt a part of the 81% of generic Linux used for these supercomputing systems, as well.

451 CAOS Links 2010.05.28

Novell Linux revenue down in Q2. The FSF turns its attention to App Store. Google vs the OSI. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and Identi.ca
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# Novell reported Q2 Linux revenue down 4.1% YoY to $35m and open platform revenue down 4.8% to $37m. Total revenue down 5.4% to $204m. Novell’s Linux revenue was heavily impacted by discounts on Microsoft deals. Excluding that, Linux invoicing would have been up 46%.

# The FSF turned its GPL enforcement attention to Apple’s App Store, later shared more details on its complaint.

# Savio Rodrigues discussed the implications of Google’s WebM license on open source selection. The 451 CAOS Theory take, Google demands more openness from the Open Source Initiative, is here.

# Joe Brockmeier published the Spring 2010 Linux Distro Scorecard (parts one and two).

# The 451 Group’s Brenon Daly provided an update on potential bids for Novell.

# Former Red Hat CEO, Matthew Szulik, is also stepping down from his role as chairman.

# Alfresco released Enterprise Edition 3.3, including content services for Lotus, Outlook, Google Docs and Drupal.

# Version 1.0 of the MeeGo Linux distribution for netbooks is now available.

# GroundWork launched a new Quickstart Virtual Appliance based on CentOS.

# Canonical updated its Landscape systems management tool for Ubuntu.

LinuxCare relaunch reveals cloud lift for Linux

LinuxCare, which recently relaunched a new cloud computing-based Linux services business, had represented frankly a lot of the Linux support business, promise and opportunity that never quite lived up to the hype and expectations. LinuxCare, which suffered from lack of leadership and execution, later became Levanta, and we eventually questioned its Linux-only approach in an enterprise IT world increasingly made up of mixed-OS deployments. Levanta shut down, along with some other missed systems management efforts, in 2008.

The lack of novelty and uniqueness about Linux continued, and as we saw with Linux World 2008, Linux had become so well ingrained in enterprise IT that it truly seemed nobody cared. Like Levanta, LinuxWorld is now gone.

So why would now be the right time for another go at Linux support business? I believe the answer lies in the same response I’ve been offering a number of users, vendors and clients: cloud computing. We began watching more closely the use of Linux, including unpaid community Linux, in cloud computing a couple of years ago with our report, The Rise of Community Linux. Last year, we continued to track the use of Linux, and again community Linux, in cloud computing as we were still hearing about the use of both paid versions such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Suse Linux Enterprise Server, but also community versions such as CentOS, Debian, and Ubuntu, which is growing both its paid and unpaid use in cloud computing environments.

We’ve also seen cloud-specific versions and vendors, such as CloudLinux, which typically aim their cloud-tuned Linux software and support at specific verticals and industries. For CloudLinux, as well as for the major Linux vendors and others, that specific industry is hosting and other service providers moving to the clouds.

So a LinuxCare relaunch with with focus on supporting Linux for cloud computing infrastructure, applications and services makes some sense, and also highlights the continued business, benefits and opportunities of Linux as opposed to competing operating systems.

Open source evolving with the cloud

We’ve covered the significance of open source software in cloud computing, both with the emergence of cloud models and more recently from the perspective of customers. In the first weeks of 2010, we see open source is maintaining, if not growing, its role in cloud computing. There are also indications open source and its use are evolving in the cloud.

While we’ve seen open source software used both to build cloud computing infrastructure and offered among cloud computing services, we had thought that the building of clouds with open source may be the greater opportunity given typical and historical adoption and use patterns. However, we are seeing continued examples of additional open source offerings in the cloud.

One such example is MuleSoft’s new offer of Tomcat application server via the GoGrid cloud. The product, MuleSoft Cloudcat, consists of cloud-based Apache Tomcat on GoGrid with commercial support from MuleSoft.

We’re also seeing examples of new open source software for the cloud. We’ve covered the use of unpaid, community Linux in the cloud, but a new cloud-specific distribution, CloudLinux, may also have some interesting implications, particularly for hosters and other service providers. CloudLinux, compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux clone CentOS, is commercially backed and supported by a company of the same name.

Cloud services and software are not the only sign of open source’s continued prominence in cloud computing. Also showing us that open source is maturing along with cloud computing: a new partnership between Terracotta and Eucalyptus. These two open source cloud players obviously see the benefits of working together and they’ll be integrating technology and teaming on sales and marketing.

We’ve also seen recently that the community aspects of open source continue to hold importance in cloud computing. In response to a perceived movement away from open source, a project dubbed OpenECP has forked from Enomaly’s Elastic Computing Platform. Citing ‘abrupt commercialization in November 2009,’ OpenECP backers indicate they will maintain free availability and provide community support. Interestingly, the OpenECP project chose to license it under the Affero GPLv3, and we’re watching licensing moves to see if cloud computing prompts more use of AGPL.

All of this shows how open source continues to play a vital role in cloud computing, enabling a wide range of vendors and providers to both build cloud computing infrastructure and applications using open source, and to offer open source via cloud computing to enterprise and other customers.

Support keeps coming for community open source

We’ve been tracking the enterprise use of unpaid, community open source software for a few years now, particularly Linux. Today, it is clear to see that commercial paid support for this type of software is on the rise. The latest example: OpenLogic’s bid to support CentOS, a free community Linux distro that, while a clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, does not have any official commercial entity behind it.

Still, as we covered in our CAOS report ‘The Rise of Community Linux,’ we see increasing interest in and use of community distros such as CentOS, Debian, which is particularly popular in the telecommunications industry, Slackware, PCLinux, Asianux and others, including community versions from the biggest commercial Linux vendors: Novell’s OpenSuse and Red Hat’s Fedora. Although it is distributed and supported by Canonical, we also see some unpaid enterprise use of Ubuntu, as well.

What’s driving this use? Cost and the fact that these distributions are free of charge and free of licensing issues at scale, in virtual and cloud computing environments is obviously a big reason. However, we also see the desire to more effectively and efficiently utilize existing IT talent and experience. Organizations using Linux and other open source software typically realize before too long they have employees capable of supporting and deploying that software, and this is another big driver of unpaid community open source in the enterprise.

Although it will to some extent, OpenLogic is not looking to compete with Red Hat or other Linux vendors and supporters as much as provide unique support for open source software that is gaining interest and use in the enterprise. The company cites customer demand as the reason for the offering and for starting with CentOS. OpenLogic plans in 2010 to add other community distro support, which consists of an SLA support package of indemnification, incident support, unlimited sockets or CPUs, and VM support.

There are plenty of other organizations adding CentOS to their offerings and support. While we’ve covered support from hardware vendors, particularly HP — which this year launched a community Linux support site — we have also seen virtualization and cloud computing-focused vendors that have also turned to CentOS and other community Linux distributions. Part of the trend of community Linux in the cloud, vendors such as rPath, RightScale and Convirture have incorporated CentOS and Ubuntu into their software and support, for example.

We’ll continue to watch what’s happening with community open source software, but it seems clear that enterprise customers will be using more of it, sometimes even in official, above-board fashion. This will also mean that commercial open source software vendors will be competing even more with it, but the good news is there is a recognition from most successful open source software vendors that these are the rules of open source, and this is part of the pressure and competition that drives innovation. All in all, it seems community open source software is turning out to be quite beneficial for enterprise IT.