In a bid to help accelerate the adoption of the Open Stack cloud computing platform in traditional enterprise data centers, Red Hat recently made an undisclosed investment in VMTurbo, a Boston-based software company focused on automated virtualized and cloud infrastructure resource management.
VMTurbo described Red Hat’s investment as “strategic” since it is designed to leverage VMTurbo’s technology to drive increased levels of virtualized infrastructure resource automation into the Open Stack cloud platform management framework. For example, VMTurbo can auto-negotiate or arbitrate access to CPU, storage, and networking resources from competing virtualized applications based on the underlying policy assigned to the given application. So an online ordering system might be prioritized over an e-mail server when the two are contending for the same resources—helping to ensure application quality of service for critical business systems.
So why does this announcement matter? If Red Hat can successfully leverage VMTurbo’s solution to make Open Stack private and/or hybrid cloud computing more viable for businesses, than it could put them in a strong position to drive adoption of their commercially supported version of Open Stack. Moreover, it could also enable Red Hat to attract increased levels of subscribers to its public cloud IaaS and PaaS offerings; potentially vaulting them into a leadership position as an Open Stack cloud services provider.
OpenStack cloud deployments by operating system (2014), courtesy of OpenStack Superuser
While Red Hat and VMTurbo are messaging that their partnership will yield a collective benefit to the Open Stack community, there will likely be unique resource management capabilities baked into the Red Hat commercial version of Open Stack that could make Red Hat’s core offerings, like Red Hat Linux (RHEL), more appealing to Open Stack adopters.
While many enterprise data centers are either planning for or are in the midst of integrating Open Stack into their environments, many of these adopters are opting for freeware versions of Linux like Ubuntu or CentOS, over commercial releases like RHEL (see Figure 1). One way for Red Hat to retain and gain Linux market share is to drive value throughout the cloud infrastructure and operating system management stack; technologies like VMTurbo’s, for example, can potentially help them do that.
What’s more, as an infrastructure agnostic solution, VMTurbo can be used in conjunction with heterogeneous hypervisors (XenServer, VMware, Hyper-V, KVM, etc.), and disparate hardware and software platforms to help organizations optimize their on-premises data environments prior to consuming resources in the cloud. This is a key capability as many businesses are interested in leveraging the cloud as a “pressure release valve” whereby public cloud resources are used to augment onsite resources during periods of peak demand. VMTurbo can be the glue that helps make hybrid cloud computing across heterogeneous infrastructure a reality.
By aligning more closely with VMTurbo, Red Hat is signaling their intent to not only compete more effectively in the Open Stack provider space but also against more traditional suppliers like VMware, Microsoft, and IBM. There is something of a ground swell among enterprise users to diversify their virtualized infrastructure footprint and if Red Hat, through their Open Stack platform, can demonstrate that they can deliver many of the same (or more) management capabilities than are available in VMware’s vRealize suite, for example, this can potentially help them gain more traction in the data center.
Lastly, it will be interesting to see if Red Hat’s investment in VMTurbo translates into an eventual acquisition. Corporate venture capitalism has been on the rise in recent years and often an initial “investment” is a precursor to an outright purchase. In that scenario, it might be challenging for Red Hat to maintain its fully open source posture, as they may be driven by their shareholders to more aggressively monetize their “strategic investments.”