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)

451 CAOS Links 2011.12.09

Funding for BlazeMeter and Digital Reasoning. Red Hat goes unstructured. And more.

# BlazeMeter announced $1.2m in Series A funding and launched the a cloud service for load and performance testing.

# Digital Reasoning announced a second round of funding to help develop its Hadoop-based analytics offering.

# Red Hat announced the availability of Red Hat Storage Software Appliance, based on its recent acquisition of Gluster.

# Red Hat also announced the general availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.2.

# Jaspersoft released Jaspersoft 4.5, delivering drag-and-drop analytics and reporting on Apache Hadoop, NoSQL and analytic databases.

# Jaspersoft also delivered a second-generation native connector to MongoDB.

# CloudBees announced the availability of Jenkins Enterprise by CloudBees providing support and enhanced capabilities for the Jenkins Continuous Integration platform.

# Diaspora* is back in action, and outlined its plans.

# Talend announced that Bi3 Solutions has embedded Talend Integration Suite inside its Software-as-a-Service platform.

# DataStax announced new versions of Apache Cassandra, DataStax Community, and DataStax Enterprise.

# The H reported that Microsoft’s Windows Store agreement has open source exception.

# Black Duck Software announced the release of Export 6.0.

# Antelink launched SourceSquare, a free open source scanning engine.

Ubuntu on the move more than in decline

Ubuntu has been taking some criticism and heat for its falling Distrowatch rankings. I don’t doubt that after years of popularity, we’re finally seeing a bit of a return to the desktop Linux world of old when a new distribution shot up every week or month, then faded, then re-appeared … and so on. However, when I consider where Canonical and Ubuntu are heading, I question the significance of desktop OS standing and Distrowach rankings.

First off, I must say that Ubuntu’s slip off the ‘king of the hill’ game on Distrowatch came at the expense of Linux Mint, another polished, user-friendly Linux. It wouldn’t surprise me if some Ubuntu users may be migrating to Mint or other distributions largely out of frustration or dislike of the new Unity interface over the previous primary interface, Gnome. However, I think the move will be worth it in the long run to Ubuntu, as I’ll explain further.

If considering desktop OS, the most important aspect to me as an enterprise software analyst is enterprise desktop, and Ubuntu does well there. I’m sure there are plenty of shops running other flavors of Linux, including Mint, Gentoo, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Debian and many, many others, but for corporate desktop, the list quickly thins. Nevertheless, this is where Canonical has had some big victories, including the French police. In terms of consumer and user desktop PCs, the category itself is disappearing into converged and touch-capable devices, further distancing us from the ‘distro wars’ of the past.

Still, the server is where the real action and revenue from Linux exist. Here, Ubuntu still faces a role-reversal from most Linux distributions, using desktop and developer popularity to fuel its use as a server OS, which is also helped by free availability and cloud computing. Ubuntu continues to benefit from its early move to cloud computing and its popularity among developers, but also still faces a huge challenge in monetizing use. Significantly, the latest version, Ubuntu 11.10, incorporates support for OpenStack (or Eucalyptus) and VMware Cloud Foundry PaaS. This could be significant given what we’ve seen from this type of integration and bundling in the past. In addition, Ubuntu benefits from being among the select few Linux distribution that exist in both free, community and paid, commercial form. As reported in our special report, ‘The Changing Linux Landscape,’ the existence of an unpaid community cousin can help drive commercial growth for paid, subscription Linux, as we’ve seen happen with free Ubuntu and paid Ubuntu, as well as Fedora and RHEL and OpenSUSE and SLES.

Finally, the explosion of smartphones, tablets and converged devices — many of them running embedded Linux — makes clear there is more opportunity in these newer devices than in the desktop PCs of old. Ubuntu got a good start in netbooks and continues to be among the most advanced netbook operating systems. This should help its move to smartphones, tablets, other mobile devices, TVs and more and this is where the payoff of Unity occurs. Canonical with Ubuntu may have a real advantage as a user-friendly, mobile Linux OS that can be used by OEMs and carriers without the intellectual property stress that has marked Android, which has nonetheless laid the groundwork for mobile Linux in the industry. In the end, the pain of leaving Gnome has been significant, but the promise of where Ubuntu is headed seems worth that pain.

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.

Got open source cloud storage? Red Hat buys Gluster

Red Hat’s $136m acquisition of open source storage vendor Gluster marks Red Hat’s biggest buy since JBoss and starts the fourth quarter with a very intersting deal. The acquisition is definitely good for Red Hat since it bolsters its Cloud Forms IaaS and OpenShift PaaS technology and strategy with storage, which is often the starting point for enterprise and service provider cloud computing deployments. The acquisition also gives Red Hat another weapon in its fight against VMware, Microsoft and others, including OpenStack, of which Gluster is a member (more on that further down). The deal is also good for Gluster given the sizeable price Red Hat is paying for the provider of open source, software-based, scale-out storage for unstructured data and also as validation of both open source and software in today’s IT and cloud computing storage.

This is exactly the kind of disruption we’ve been seeing and expecting as Linux vendors compete with new rivals in virtualization, cloud computing and different layers of the stack, including storage (VMware, Microsoft, OpenStack, Oracle, Amazon and others), as covered in our recent special report, The Changing Linux Landscape.

While the deal makes perfect sense for both Red Hat and for Gluster, it also has implications for the white hot open source cloud computing project OpenStack. There was no mention of OpenStack in Red Hat’s FAQ on the deal, but there was a reference to ongoing support for Gluster partners, of which there are many fellow OpenStack members. OpenStack was also highlighted among Gluster’s key open standards participation along with the Linux Foundation and Red Hat-led Open Virtualization Alliance oriented around KVM. Sources at both Gluster and Red Hat, which point to OpenStack support being bundled into Red Hat’s coming Fedora 16, also reiterated to me Red Hat is indeed planning to continue involvement with OpenStack around the Gluster technologies. I suspect Red Hat is looking to leverage Gluster more for its own purposes than for OpenStack’s, but I must also acknowledge Red Hat’s understanding of the value of openness, community and compatibility. Taking that idea a step further, Gluster may represent a way that Red Hat can integrate with and tap into the OpenStack community by blending it with its own community around Fedora, RHEL, JBoss, RHEV and Cloud Forms and OpenShift.

The deal also leads many to wonder whether or what may be next for Red Hat in terms of acquisition. We’ve long thought database and data management technologies were areas where we might see Red Hat building out. This was also the subject of renewed rumors recently, and we believe it might still be an attractive piece for Red Hat given the open source opportunities and targets around NoSQL technologies such as Apache Hadoop distributed data management framework and Cassandra distributed database management software. We’ve also believed systems management to be a potential place for Red Hat to further expand. Given its need to largely stay within open source, we would expect targets in this area to include GroundWork Open Source, which joins Linux and Windows systmes in its monitorig and management, and Zenoss, which works with Cisco and Red Hat rival VMware in monitoring and managing systems with its open source software. Another potential target that would increase Red Hat’s depth in open source virtualization and cloud computing is Convirture, which might also be an avenue for Red Hat to reach out to midmarket and SMB customers and channel players. Red Hat was among the non-OpenStack members we listed as potential acquirers when considering the M&A possibilities (451 subscribers) out of OpenStack.

Given its recent quarterly earnings report and topping the $1 billion annual revenue mark, Red Hat seems again to be bucking the bad economy. We’ve written before in 2008 and more recently how bad economic conditions can be good for open source software. Red Hat is atop the list of open source vendors that suffer as traditional, enterprise IT customers such as banks freeze spending or worse, fail. However, the company’s deal for Gluster is yet another sign it is thriving and expanding despite economic difficulty and uncertainty.

You don’t have to just look at Red Hat’s earnings or take our word for it. On Jim Cramer’s ‘Mad Money’ this week, we heard Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst praised for Red Hat performance and traction where most companies and many economists are throwing the blame: financial services, government and Europe. Cramer credited Red Hat for a ‘spectacular quarter’ and allowed Whitehurst to tout the benefits of the Gluster technology and acquisition, particularly Gluster’s software-based storage technology that matches cloud computing. It was quite a contrast to the news out of Oracle Open World, where hardware was a focal point.

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.

Hypervisor fight good for customers, good for FOSS

There have been many changes in the market and technology since Citrix acquired XenSource and a major stewardship stake in the Xen open source hypervisor four years ago. Red Hat’s 2008 Qumranet acquisition and subsequent push behind the Linux-integrated Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor has added to the disruption. One thing, though, remains the same: the intense competition among these open source hypervisors in the enterprise market.

Read the entire article at LinuxInsider.

451 CAOS Links 2011.05.20

Open Virtualization Alliance launches, Reforming the OSI. IBM targets Hadoop. And more.

# BMC Software, Eucalyptus, HP, IBM, Intel, Red Hat and SUSE created the Open Virtualization Alliance.

# The Open Source Initiative launched plans to encourage greater participation from the various open source industry stakeholders.

# The WSJ published a preview of IBM’s forthcoming Hadoop-related announcements.

# SQLStream raised $6m for its stream computing platform, based on Eigenbase.

# MongoLab raised $3m for its MongoDB hosting and services.

# Oracle introduced a new Java Specification Request to evolve the Java Community Process.

# DataStax hired former Quest executive Billy Bosworth as its new chief executive.

# Red Hat released Enterprise Linux 6.1.

# Attachmate’s SUSE business unit announced its plans under Nils Brauckmann.

# Bradley M Kuhn discussed Android in the context of GPL enforcement.

# The Fedora project switched to a new contributor agreement.

# OStatic argued that it is too early to count out Eucalyptus Systems.

# Openbravo added new Point of Sale capabilities to its ERP software.

# Martin Michlmayr discussed some lessons learned from Munich’s migration to Linux.

# Zanby has released the code for its enterprise groupware under the GNU GPL3 license.

# Wyse released a new Linux-based thin client.

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.

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.

The four pillars of modern IT openness

Given our coverage regarding the impact of open source software on cloud computing, development and IT admin trends such as devops and the drivers of open source from the perspective of open source software users and customers, there’s no question open source software is the driving force of openness in today’s enterprise IT. Still, there are other factors emerging as significant. In fact, I see four pillars of openness that are relevant today, each at different stages and with shifting importance, but all with a role in what is or is not open in today’s enterprise IT.

*The first pillar is open source software itself, and it is perhaps the most established and strongest of them all. As referenced above, open source continues to play a growing role in the latest enterprise IT trends, and it is aligned with customer empowerment, which lends credence to the idea it will continue to grow and spread. Open source software and its principles have impacted nearly all discussions of ‘open’ and open source stands as the true measure of openness.

*The second pillar is represented by open standards, which have transformed from somewhat of a joke in open source circles to a more true representation of the term and the words. Rather than a single vendor’s effort to get a technology standard viewed as open, today’s open standards have to really be open. Why? The market no longer accepts open standards that are open in name only. True, there are still plenty of aspects to standards, even open standards, that makes them more closed than open, but the situation has generally improved, and with continuing customer empowerment, vendor collaboration and the influence of open source software driving standards that are truly more open for participation and community. We do wonder what types of standards will be open enough as we push further into cloud computing, devops and other driving trends, but the overall industry movement now seems to be toward openness in standards. It’s not just analysts saying so, either. The market dictates standards arguably more than anything esle, and the market now demands (almost all of the time) they are open.

*A third pillar of openness today is undoubtedly cloud computing, for which open source software and open standards are critical. The prevalence of Linux and a lot of other open source software is also apparent in some of the latest, interesting partnerships and integrations, such as Ubuntu distributor Canonical’s deal with Autonomic Resources for more channel business and Red Hat’s cloud computing pact with Eucalyptus Systems. We also continue to see signs that cloud computing is ‘giving back’ to open source software, primarily by making the separation of free and open source software available for free and for pay clearer via paid services and cloud access.

*The final pillar, and arguably the least evolved and mature, is open data. While open source software (particularly data-centric open source such as Hadoop), open standards and the role of openness in cloud computing have driven discussions of openness, data remains a source of lock-in according to users and a source of demand for closed technology according to users. In considering a concept such as Matt’s ‘total data,’ and some of the points raised in this post, I have no doubt there will be meaningful debates and moves to make data and data access more open in the industry. However, I also believe that the desire to continue to keep customers, the need to keep data closed (including privacy) and the nature of data will make open data the slowest to evolve. Nevertheless, it will eventually give way to the upside of shared data, collaboration, and a global market of not only goods and services, but also ideas. In doing so, open data will likely continue to be a pillar of openness in the modern IT landscape.

We will continue to watch these pillars of openness, and expect the significance of all four to continue as well, given their interconnection and importance to what both IT providers and consumers, particularly the successful ones, are doing today.

Is cloud computing opening up?

We’ve already identified the significance of open source software to cloud computing, based on the cloud stacks from large IaaS, PaaS and other providers, on the most popular projects used for public, private and hybrid clouds and on the traction of key open source pieces such as Linux, Xen, KVM, Apache Tomcat, Hadoop, PHP, Ruby and many others. We’ve also discussed how open source is playing a role not only in the technology, but in the discussions, debates and overall evolution of cloud computing. While we believe the continued use and growth of critical open source pieces in cloud computing will contribute to a more open cloud ecosystem and market, we actually saw some evidence of this recently with word that the next Ubuntu Linux from Canonical will support not only the Eucalyptus cloud framework, but also the ever-popular OpenStack technology, project and community.

We wondered recently about the impact of a cloud partnership between Red Hat and Eucalyptus Systems, which also works closely with Canonical for its Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud. In a recent discussion, Marten Mickos told me Eucalyptus Systems fully expects and supports Canonical’s moves toward another cloud framework, OpenStack. While Canonical’s strategy probably has as much to do with customer demand, particularly for cloud flexibility, as it does with responding to rivals’ moves and deals, I believe that both the Red Hat partnership with Eucalyptus Systems and Canonical’s support for multiple, open source cloud computing frameworks signal a more open cloud computing market that is evolving. Customers are prioritizing flexibility and portability, and open source represents both perceived and real mechanisms for providing it. We’ve seen similar support from rival vendors on the operating system and hypervisor, most notably with Red Hat and Microsoft on virtualization, and I expect we’ll see this repeated with other vendors and technologies in cloud computing.

Sure there is still the question of how open is open enough, but the latest activity is truly good news for users of open source software and customers of open source vendors, who will benefit from this cross-project, cross-cloud platform support, collaboration and perhaps, community.

Red Hat reaches for clouds with interesting Eucalyptus deal

It was interesting to see a partnership announcement between Red Hat and Eucalyptus Systems, commercial supporter of the Eucalyptus cloud computing framework. Why so interesting? Mainly because there are several, significant competitive, partnership and technology implications from the deal.

First off, we’re been waiting for a more pronounced response from Eucalyptus Systems to OpenStack, the open source cloud computing stack backed initially by Rackspace and NASA and supported by a growing cast of both open source and non-open source players. We’ve also wondered about the competitive implications of OpenStack for Red Hat, which despite previously being sharply focused on the enterprise server market, is now working hard to extend into cloud computing, service providers and Paas, as evidenced also by its recent acquisition of Makara, which was a Eucalyptus Systems partner. Thus, the Red Hat-Eucalyptus partnership may be in part a response to OpenStack on the part of either or both partners.

The pairing is also interesting since Eucalyptus Systems has long worked closely with Ubuntu Linux distributor Canonical, which relies on the open source Eucalyptus software for its Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud. While Canonical has not presented much of a threat to Red Hat and its RHEL in the overall enterprise server market, the same cannot be said for cloud computing, where Canonical was first to address cloud computing users and also benefits from the popularity of Ubuntu in both public and private clouds and among developers. So it will be intersting to see whether Eucalyptus Systems’ partnership with Red Hat has any impact on Canonical’s own partnership with Eucalyptus Systems or use of Eucalyptus software.

There are also other significant Eucalyptus Systems partners that come into play, particularly the recently-launched NRE Alliance, a coalition of newScale, rPath and Euaclyptus Systems for self-service private and hybrid clouds, as covered in a 451 Group report. Additional Eucalyptus partners that make its partnership with Red Hat and its progress even more interesting: Convirture, Dell, GroundWork Open Source, HP, Membase, Novell, Puppet Labs, Rightscale, rPath, Terracotta, Vmware and Zmanda.

Finally, it’s interesting yet again to note that we may be seeing some response to the fact that much of the Linux that is used in cloud computing is unpaid, community Linux, such as CentOS, Debian, Fedora and Ubuntu, which is frequently a leader among Linux distributions, whether public or private clouds. The good news for Red Hat is that we are seeing Fedora among these community editions among Linux in the clouds. The use of unpaid, community Linux by many cloud users — particularly those testing and building privte and hybrid clouds — also highlights the monetization and commercialization challenges faced by Linux vendors here, particularly cloud leader Canonical.

Back to the Red Hat-Eucalyptus deal, we have no question we will continue to see interesting partnerships form among Linux and other open source software vendors and others as they all come together in the clouds.

Red Hat-Makara means more open source in the clouds

It is with great interest that we watch Red Hat add in the cloud application management technology of its Makara acquisition to fill out its Cloud Foundatios PaaS offering. We believe Red Hat gains a much needed application managemeint piece for its cloud computing strategy and extension from its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), JBoss middleware and other open source software for the enterprise. The Makara acquisition also arms Red Hat for the pending PaaS war in which it will be competing with much larger rivals, including Microsoft and VMware. Makara also represents Red Hat’s reach out to managed service providers, where we, along with other rivals, see ample opportunity for Linux. Finally, we believe Red Hat will increase the prominence of open source in cloud compouting and PaaS, though we see from our Seeding the Clouds report that open source software is a critical part of nearly all of the major cloud providers’ stacks.

Makara is also all about devops, which is having an impact on enterprise software development, IT operations, data management strategies, mobile application development and more. This is another great extension for Red Hat, which has a big role to play not only in the ‘ops’ part of devops, but also in the ‘dev’ part, as the company lays out with its Cloud Foundations PaaS technology and strategy.

Another interesting aspect of the Red Hat-Makara deal is that Makara had relatively recently adjusted its offerings in favor of public clouds, where the company reported there was more traction and revenue, as opposed to private clouds, which are nonetheless still growing in use. This might seem bad for open source, which has always seemed poised and positioned perfectly for private cloud building more than public cloud infrastructure. However, time has shown that there is just as much interest and demand for open source software in public clouds, such as the various Linux distributions popular on Amazon EC2 and other public clouds or MuleSoft’s Cloudcat Tomcat application server as a cloud service.

Actually, the fact that Makara was seeing more action and business in public clouds may mean that Red Hat will be able to more effectively monetize the use of Linux, JBoss and now Makara and its Red Hat Cloud Foundations open source software, given public cloud use typically comes with an expectation to pay, whereas private cloud building is often associated with DIY, support yourself and open source because it is free. This also highlights the shifting drivers for open source sotfware, which in the case of Makara and cloud application management have more to do with innovation and flexibility than cost.

Similar to OpenStack, the Red Hat-Makara deal is further evidence the market wants, needs and will support alternatives, particularly if they are open source. While part of Makara’s technology was already open source software, Red Hat intends, as we would expect, to open source all of the software. Thus, the deal will make even more of cloud computing, and particularly cloud application management and PaaS, open source.

Implications, questions on SUSE Linux, but not the end

There is no shortage of implications and questions from the Novell sale to Attachmate, which includes a side-deal for unknown IP assets from Novell purchased by Microsoft-backed participants. Bottom line, it appears as though Attachmate has acquired the SUSE Linux technology and business, based on the fact it announced plans to split SUSE from Novell, which we believe is wise. Still, the deal has significant impacts for the Linux OS, the enterprise Linux market, cloud computing, community Linux, competing vendors and operating systems, partners and more. Below are some thoughts on the impact and some of the questions that remain unanswered.

Novell has always been a major contributor to Linux development. It appears Attachmate sees value in the SUSE Linux business, as it is wisely separating it from Novell’s other technology, which may have been a bit of a drag on the thriving development and use of SUSE Linux, SUSE Studio and OpenSUSE, particularly in virtual appliance and cloud computing scenarios. It was good to see some acknowledgement of the importance of the OpenSUSE community from Attachmate. Though it was not very thorough or detailed, and plans for SUSE Linux, OpenSUSE, the business and customers around it are still very unclear, it’s more than we saw from Oracle on OpenSolaris, which illustrated Oracle’s challenges with open source communities. Nevertheless, the fact that Novell has been such a significant contributor to not only Linux kernel, hypervisor and other software development, but also to market penetration for Linux means that Attachmate, or whoever ends up owning SUSE, has big shoes to fill.

The separation of the SUSE Linux technology and business also leads us to wonder whether it is poised for another sale, perhaps to another third-party that was interested in only the SUSE piece. Amid speculation that Microsoft may have helped make the deal happen to thwart a rumored SUSE buyout by VMware, we believe there is still a possiblity VMware, or other player, could acquire SUSE Linux. However, this appears increasingly unlikely given signals from Attachmate it will keep and run the SUSE Linux business, perhaps more effectively or aggressively in the virtual appliance and cloud computing environments where there is perhaps most opportunity for Linux. We will also be watching vendors such as HP and IBM, which are significant supporters of both SLES and RHEL, to see if the recent deal for Novell has any impact on their Linux positions.

Of course, uncertainty about the development or direction of SUSE Linux may steer some enterprise customers toward competing operating systems, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Windows, HP-UX from Hewlett-Packard, AIX from IBM, Solaris from Oracle or community Linux distributions such as CentOS, Fedora and Ubuntu (which also comes with commercial support fro Canonical in some cases). However, the Novell deal probably does not come as a surprise to SUSE Linux users, and many of these customers — in financial services, HPC, insurance and other enterprise verticals — are among the most advanced Linux users and are capabile of continuing with SUSE Linux on their own, with Attachmate or both. We see Red Hat as among the big winners in the deal, since it emerges as the only enterprise Linux provider of its kind, but mostly because SUSE Linux does not belong to VMware, which is aggressively competing with Red Hat on several levels, including support of OS, hypervisor and middleware technologies. Microsoft also stands to benefit from SUSE Linux under Attachmate rather than VMware, given Microsoft’s interest in and support for SUSE Linux through a longstanding partnership with Novell. The big question in regards to Microsoft concerns the IP acquired by CPTN, which is backed by Microsoft, for $450m.

While there are numerous customers, vendors, communities and people impacted by the deal, one of the often-overlooked factors is the hypervisor. Novell and use of SLES are a significant part of the Xen hypervisor community. This may be another win for Red Hat, which favors the Linux-integrated KVM hypervisor, particularly if this move for SLES means it also moves more toward KVM and away from Xen.

In conclusion, it was about this time of year in 2006 that Novell and Microsoft announced their landmark partnersip, which over the years has produced greater Windows-Linux interoperability and co-management and large enterprise customers for both. At the time, there were cries that this was the end of SUSE Linux. This was also about the time that Oracle rolled out its own Unbreakable Linux, which was heralded as the end for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. I believe, as these previous lessons and the history of open source software show us, we’ll continue to see significant use and development of SUSE Linux and OpenSUSE, regardless of who is backing them, and that SUSE Linux will continue to be a prominent part of the enterprise IT and enterprise Linux landscape.

NOTE: 451 Group subscribers can read more of our analysis and take on the deal in our report.

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.

451 CAOS Links 2010.09.16

Novell is going to pieces. But who will pick them up? And more.

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

# The New York Post reported that Novell has agreed a deal in principle to sell itself in two parts.

# Joe Brockmeier asked Who’s buying Novell?

# VAR Guy covered the speculation that VMware will acquire Novell’s SUSE Linux business.

# Local Tech Wire asked Is Red Hat bidding for Novell’s Linux business, or will a SUSE sale set a price for Red Hat?

# The OpenStack projectrevealed details of its governance framework.

# The SCO Group announced that its Unix assets are now up for auction.

# Yahoo talked up its Hadoop contributions (“70% of all code written”) and benefits.

# Oracle said it will work with the OpenJDK code base and the OpenJDK community like Sun did.

# Google relaunched the developer tools it acquired along with Instantiations.

# NetworkWorld’s Julie Bort took Cisco to task for its contributions to open source.

# Carlo Daffara discussed strategy, tactics, and why companies are free to not contribute.

# Rackspace is moving to monthly billing for RHEL instances, due to “changes in subscription arrangements with Red Hat”.

# Diaspora released the source code for its open source social network.

# Stephen Walli warned against confusing open source and open standards.

# The UK Government is committed to using more open source.

# MuleSoft announced the general availability of Mule ESB 3.0.

# Cloudera and Teradata partnered to develop a Hadoop connector for Teradata.

# Opsview teamed up with Canonical to drive adoption of Opsview Enterprise with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Server Edition.

# The OpenIndiana distribution of OpenSolaris is now available for download.

# Amazon Web Services introduced its own Amazon Linux AMI.

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)