Google, Red Hat get cozy in the cloud

Red Hat’s OS is now available in Google’s cloud

Red Hat and Google today extended the integration of each other's products in their cloud offerings. Red Hat customers can now bring eligible subscriptions of the company's leading product, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) into Google's Compute Engine cloud. Google, meanwhile, today announced that virtual machines running the RHEL operating system are now generally available in Google Compute Engine (GCE).

The moves mark an important evolution in the maturity of Google's public cloud platform because it offers customers a legitimate and supported OS that many enterprises, especially open source-focused ones, are familiar with. Microsoft's Azure cloud, for example, does not support RHEL. Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) does.

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Red Hat offers a variety of subscription levels for RHEL, including some where Red Hat provides the support and others where partners provide the support. This new program of "bring your own license" with Google's cloud is available for customers who have a direct support from Red Hat or one of its partners.

The broader impact of the news is its reflection of Red Hat's strategy in the cloud marketplace though. The company is clearly attempting to extend the reach and use of its RHEL OS across as many clouds as possible. Furthermore, moves like the one today reinforce the company's plans to not offer a public cloud itself and instead work with partnering companies like Google and Amazon. It could perhaps be a smart strategy because competing with AWS and GCE, along with Microsoft, Verizon, Rackspace, IBM and so many others could be expensive and difficult.

It does raise the question as to what's next for Red Hat though beyond RHEL though. The company has a number of other initiatives, most notably being heavily involved in OpenStack. Red Hat has been the leading contributor of new code to OpenStack in the recent releases of the open source cloud compute framework. Red Hat also has OpenShift, which is a platform as a service. Both of those initiatives, Red Hat's distribution of OpenStack and OpenShift, are both heavily integrated with RHEL, which gives Red Hat a strong existing user base to sell OpenStack and OpenShift into. OpenStack and OpenShift deployments are still in very early days though.

The parts of Red Hat's cloud strategy are clearly starting to come together though. Customers can use their existing RHEL installations as a basis for building a private cloud using OpenStack and OpenShift PaaS for application development. Then, Red Hat will partner with public cloud giants like Google and Amazon to serve the public cloud needs of customers.

As for Google, announcements like those made today continue to solidify the company as a legitimate competitor to Amazon Web Services. Last month Google slashed its IaaS prices basically in half (which Amazon followed with its own price cuts), and Google outlined a variety of new features for its cloud. Those included new pricing options that give customers discounts based on their usage, and new integrations between its IaaS (GCE) and its public PaaS, Google Applications Engine (GAE).

As the cloud battles heat up, more and more companies may be looking to partner and join forces to take on competitors in the market. This is one of those examples.  

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and NetworkWorld.com. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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