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Red Hat Software Software Businesses Linux

Red Hat Bets Big On Cloud Target 99

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the go-where-the-people-are dept.
eldavojohn writes "Red Hat's CEO prophetically saith 'The clouds will all run Linux' in a brief interview before the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo. Here's the skinny: Red Hat management tools take a back seat to grid computing goals, high switching costs are the trick to surviving slow periods, Microsoft's interoperability tools are vaporware, they're striving to catch up to VMWare, Ubuntu is not the competition, JBoss is growing twice as fast as RHEL and Amazon pays the fee while Google wears its own Red Hat for free."
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Red Hat Bets Big On Cloud Target

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  • Where's the money? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dlgeek (1065796) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @12:27PM (#24418689)
    If you RTFA, Red Hat is planning on getting it's revenue from selling support. I'm not sure I see this happening. If you're running a cloud service, you're going to have a LOT of machines and you're going to need enough custom support and custom software that you're probably going to have in-house support. If you have in-house support, you're probably not paying for the Red Hat support, so how do the expect to make revenue?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2008 @12:33PM (#24418827)

      You're obviously new here. Of course these shops will have their on in-house IT staff that know what's going on. But when the shit hits the fan, the staff want a backup plan, called RedHat Support. That's what paid support is for, and that's why Microsoft makes so much money selling Windows, even though we all know how much cheaper it is to run Linux/BSD.

      The supporters can just shrug off and say "sorry" while they go to the bank, but the IT staff needs to say "even they fucked up".

      While that is the cynic in my speaking, truth is, you need dedicated staff to run this kind of thing AND paid support. You can't have a fresh graduate do it and expect support to fill in the gaps in any realistic way.

      Welcome to the IT world, where the beautiful promises of a technological tomorrow are backed by a lot of grunt work, voodoo, and incompetence.

      • by debatem1 (1087307)

        That's what paid support is for, and that's why Microsoft makes so much money selling Windows, even though we all know how much cheaper it is to run Linux/BSD.

        I wonder how many end users actually wind up calling Microsoft tech support. I never hear a person say "No, don't worry about fixing my computer, I called Microsoft and it's all better now".

        • by TedRiot (899157)
          Our in-house 2nd level support has called MS tech support many times on issues with their software and MS has helped on many issues and even provided patches that are not publicly available.
      • by Jawnn (445279)
        I am not exactly new here, but your ways are strange to me. What is this "Microsoft Support" thing of which you speak?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by nurb432 (527695)

          It really does exist, for those people willing to pay the big bucks.

          And sometimes you find they actually DO know what they are talking about, with their products at least. Once you get into the depths of the support structure you no longer see the 1st level 'by the book' call centers and discover that elusive developer.. who actually does have a clue.

          • by iserlohn (49556)

            The best part is when the experts apologize (implicitly) for their shitty product.. coughcough MS N{asty,ewbie,etwork} Load Balancing

            In that instance, the support engineer provided a great in-depth response. It went something like this -

            Us: Hey we've this problem with using NLB with XXX
            MS Guy: You know what, we've always had this problem with NLB and YYY. It's tragic, let me get into the details..
            --- 3 page email later ---
            Us: Um.. we're using XXX..
            MS Guy: Oh.. we haven't really encountered that before, can'

            • by nurb432 (527695)

              MS Guy: Oh.. we haven't really encountered that before, can't help..

              With our level of support, we have never got that response and they are committed to find a solution, and do. We also don't communicate by email. We have a dedicated live contact for us to call 24/7. ( not that he's the expert, he's more of a point man to get the right people on the issue ).

              We have even had them onsite for those really bad head-scratcher problems where a remote view just didn't cut it..

              • How much does it cost you (on top of licensing fees of course) to have that wonderful dedicated support person standing by?
              • by MrMr (219533)
                You work for a chair manufacturer?
              • by iserlohn (49556)

                Um.. so your contact doesn't know how to use email and only communicates with you by sending letters through the post?

                You know it's kinda hard to talk about a complex situation on the phone without something written.. yes?? yes??? yes????

        • I am not exactly new here, but your ways are strange to me. What is this "Microsoft Support" thing of which you speak?

          an urban legend

      • by Chatsubo (807023)

        > But when the shit hits the fan, the staff want a backup plan

        In my experience, it's management that demand this, insisting that having in-house support is not sufficient. They want someone to sue if things go really tits-up, and their customers sue THEM. (Whether they actually could is apparently not of importance)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RobBebop (947356)

      how do the expect to make revenue?

      Benefits of specialization. As the bottom level of the "Cloud Infrastructure" Red Hat can service customers who actually own the clouds better (i.e. cheaper) than they can service themselves.

      Sure, Amazon *could* retain an internal staff to manage the server bits, but it is easier from them to worry about their application software and share the cost of managing the clouds with Red Hat's other customers.

      Of course, there eventually comes a point in time when it will be cheaper for Amazon to simply BUY Re

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by seifried (12921)
        If you are a technology company offering cloud computing than that is by definition your core competency, to completely outsource it is a pretty much guaranteed path to implosion, as there is no real point for your company existing. Look at what happened to manufacturing in America, it all went to China, and now the Chinese are figuring out they can make their own brand names (or simply buy American ones like Lenovo/Thinkpad) and cut out the middle man marketing/sales/etc and do it themselves.
      • Red Hat has a lot of things going for them... but 'cheap' isn't one of them.

        In a grid computing situation like EC2, 99% of the work is going to be dealing with bad hardware- most of the time, that means having a guy with a screwdriver and a shopping cart full of hard drives on-site. Most of the more skilled work is going to involve dealing with your provisioning system, your networking system, and making sure your hardware matches up with your operating systems. Still, they are largely operational p

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by wild_quinine (998562)

      If you RTFA, Red Hat is planning on getting it's revenue from selling support. I'm not sure I see this happening.

      I'm pretty sure that's a good part of what they've been doing for a decade.

      Wikipedia agrees [wikipedia.org]with me: Red Hat partly operates on a professional open-source business model based on open code, community development, professional quality assurance services, and subscription-based customer support.

    • by Jim Hall (2985) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @01:10PM (#24419573) Homepage

      If you RTFA, Red Hat is planning on getting it's revenue from selling support. I'm not sure I see this happening. If you're running a cloud service, you're going to have a LOT of machines and you're going to need enough custom support and custom software that you're probably going to have in-house support. If you have in-house support, you're probably not paying for the Red Hat support, so how do the expect to make revenue?

      There are two kinds of support here:

      Phone/web/email support, for problems and other issues. This is the traditional "help desk" or "support center" that you are probably thinking of.

      Updates and system patches to keep your servers up-to-date with the latest software.

      I work with lots of systems (over 1,100 servers ... about half of which run RHEL) and we need to run with both kinds of support. Sure, we probably have called Red Hat about half a dozen times in the last 5 years. But we need to have it there, should something go wrong. Am I wasting my money for that? No, because the times that we've needed to call support, we really needed it. You don't pay for support because you know you'll need it - you pay for support because you'll probably need it.

      Yes, we have our own system support people, and most are RHCE. They can figure out most problems - but we still need to have RHEL there as a safety net.

      I haven't RTFA'd, but I suspect Red Hat will offer some kind of volume discount if you have enough systems. Otherwise, it will likely be too expensive for some folks.

      (Disclaimer: I work at a Big Ten university, and we don't actually run with "help desk" support on everything. Red Hat offers an "Academic" subscription to RHEL, so you still get patches and updates, but don't get phone support. We run with phone support where we need it - like to run third-party software, or in production - but for "dev" instances for our own development staff, we may choose to run "Academic" without phone support, at a much lower price per system. It works well for us.)

    • by mhall119 (1035984)

      If the cloud runs Linux, than your access point to the cloud will likely run Linux as well. Thus, Red Hat gets support contracts with both the cloud's host, and with the cloud's clients. Probably they will make better profit off the cloud's clients.

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      To add to other replies, Redhat offers something you have very little chance of getting with in house support, kernel developers on staff who can fix kernel related issue, create a patch and have it integrated in the next release. On top of that you are very unlikely to have staff with the skill levels of Redhat's people to track down and fix those killer bugs that you encounter when doing something as complex as cloud computing.

      • Even if your staff had the programming chops to fix system related tool for your use, that does not mean they will be able to get their patches accepted upstream. A quick hack that works for me may be unacceptable for others. Unless your staff is embedded in a variety of open source projects (kernel, glibc, etc), you may have very little hope of getting upstream to take your issues seriously and now you have to maintain patches to the software everytime an update needs to happen. One of the benefits of b

    • every large corp I've worked for paid big bucks for Linux support. some of those big corps have gotten a lot of value from that support, while others have gotten not much value at all, but nearly all feel the need to pay for it.

      Usually it is the smaller shops (who have less in-house skill) who choose CentOS over RHEL.

      I'm not qualified to say why, but like everyone else, I'll hazard a guess- I think this has more to do with risk tolerance than with skill.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Follow the money. The money people pay Red Hat covers a lot more than support. It covers all of the engineers doing QA. It covers the engineers who make Red Hat a leading contributor to many OSS projects, including the Linux kernel. It covers all the work done with hardware and software vendors to ensure compatibility. It covers the work Red Hat does in providing indemnification and legal coverage to its customers and to everyone. It covers some of the costs of the Fedora project. It covers a lot of

  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @12:28PM (#24418703)
    This is perfect. For years people have said "____ will be Linux." But "The Could" has almost as little meaning as "_____" so it gives specificity without having to be specific!

    I actually use, and like Linux, but I hate marketing speak.
    • by houstonbofh (602064) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @12:31PM (#24418773)
      Nice.... Close to the top and I misspell "cloud." Friday can't come soon enough...
      • by MightyYar (622222) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @12:44PM (#24419023)

        "The could" is in a way a more appropriate term. Could computing - I like it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "The could" is in a way a more appropriate term. Could computing - I like it.

          Inteviewer: "Do you see could computing opening up doors to video analysis?"
          Whitehurst: *shrugs* "I don't know, it could ... see, that's the beauty of 'could computing.'"
          Inteviewer: "Right, I'm familiar with the name ... now, was benefit does this have over a low level distributed system or a Beowulf cluster?"
          Whitehurst: "It certainly could have more benefits. Then again, it's possible that it could not. See, could computing could open up your wildest imaginations ... maybe."

        • Just remember if anyone tries to patent it, you saw the prior art here!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by geekoid (135745)

        I thought it was a very clever pun.

        Becasue there isn't a real definitions for 'the cloud', but there are a lot of people saying 'it could be this' or ' it could be that'

      • Re:Good typing... (Score:4, Informative)

        by kestasjk (933987) on Friday August 01, 2008 @02:49AM (#24429211) Homepage
        Everyone misspells "cloud", the correct spelling is "internet".. Just because people draw a cloud on diagrams to symbolize the internet doesn't mean we should call it "the cloud".

        I don't know how people who know what the internet is and where the name came from can stand it.

        (As you can tell by my sig this is a pet annoyance)
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@nosPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday July 31, 2008 @12:30PM (#24418749) Homepage Journal

    Cloud computing and web centric computing is the height of all irresponsibility within the IT field. Network centric computing utterly depends on security and that means encryption. Defeating encryption depends on solving combinatorially difficult problems and it is still theoretically possible that this may well prove to be the case. At any given point in time, we may well wake up in a world where someone has proven P=NP and within a few short weeks from that point we would see utilities to easily forge SSL certificates, code signing, PGP, AES and pretty much every crypto system and identity assurance system out there. The resulting calamity would be so immense, that, it begs to wonder, why are we pushing technologies when we do not know if they will actually work?

    • by dlgeek (1065796) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @12:37PM (#24418891)
      To be pedantic, number factoring isn't NP-complete and an algorithm to solve an NP-complete problem won't necessarily lead to one for integer factorization.

      The bigger fear is quantum computers, with a proven algorithm to factor numbers in polynomial time (Shor's Algorithm). In fact, some research quantum computers have factored very small numbers (ex: 15) already.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by fractic (1178341)

        To be pedantic, number factoring isn't NP-complete

        Yes it is. In 2002 the AKS primality test [wikipedia.org] was discoverd proving that testing for primality is P. As a result factorization is NP because we can check if a given factorization is correct in polynomial time.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hansraj (458504) *

          ...that testing for primality is P. As a result factorization is NP because we can check if a given factorization is correct in polynomial time.

          Factorization is in NP irrespective of whether primality testing is in P or not. You can check whether a given factorization is correct or not by simply multiplying the claimed factors. The result you cite proves that factorization is in coNP (the complement of NP).

          • by fractic (1178341)
            You want to have a complete factorization. Just multiplying the factors isn't enough, they need to be prime.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by hansraj (458504) *

              Ummm.. when you are discussing whether a problem is in NP and/or in coNP you normally have a decision problem in mind. So the problem here is not "What are the prime factors of n?" but rather "Does n have a non-trivial factor less than m?"

              By repeatedly asking this question you can eventually get the prime factors of any number.

              Of course you can make the decision problem "Does n have a prime factor less than m?" in which case you would indeed need the AKS result, but I believe the former variant is more comm

              • by fractic (1178341)
                Ah yes, you are right. I forgot about that. It's been a while since I worked with this kind of stuff.
      • The reverse isn't true though, because factorization is in NP, but is not NP-complete (it hasn't been shown to be).

        I wouldn't worry too much about quantum computers yet. You need several order of magnitude more qubits than what can currently be implemented (barely double-digit), and you need much longer coherence times (perhaps in the order of tens of milliseconds).

        • We can expand the inverse of any polynomial problem into SAT if we want to. I mean, I've done this and am working on a program to do this for own education and experimentation. So, in the worst case, even if FACTOR is not NP-Complete, by virtue of saying that FACTOR is cast to an SAT problem, you can still get the benefit of using a speedy solution to SAT to factor factor.

          In fact, is it not the case that the reigning factoring champ actually uses a big matrix to solve at the end? If that is the case, the

          • But if Factorization is NP-complete, then immediately QP (Quantum Polynomial) is the same as NP. So it does matter.
            • by tjstork (137384)

              My point is that, you can transform FACTOR into SAT. If you have a good algorithm to solve SAT in polynomial time, then FACTOR could benefit from it. So, it doesn't matter entirely if FACTOR is NP-Complete, in the sense that, if you prove P=NP, then, FACTOR can take advantage of it.

    • by debatem1 (1087307)

      At any given point in time, we may well wake up in a world where someone has proven P=NP

      Do you also take out dragon raid insurance policies? Dragons haven't been proven not to exist, and it would be the height of irresponsibility not to protect your home against so grave a menace as a dragon if it should turn out to be real.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hansraj (458504) *

        I know this is slashdot but that is the single most ridiculous analogy I have ever seen in my life. Are you implying in any way that the possibility of P turning out to be same as NP or factorization being in P after all is the same as possibility of dragons existing?

        While dragons are not proven to not exist, one can make reasonably good plausibility arguments about their non-existence depending on what characteristics your dragon has, whereas these big questions have no plausibility arguments for settling

        • by debatem1 (1087307)
          It is probable that within the lifetime of a given crypto implementation, it will be shown to have flaws. It is possible that within that same time period, a given cryptographic algorithm will be weakened past usefulness. It is *very* remotely possible that a non-NP restatement of a currently NP attack or distinguisher will be found in the near future. Do you care to lay odds on placing the NP-complete problems in the set of P in the near future?

          Ok, lets take this a step further: lets say that the NP-co
          • by hansraj (458504) *

            First off, looking back at my post I realize that I sounded too harsh. Apologies for the tone. Coming back to the discussion,

            Do you care to lay odds on placing the NP-complete problems in the set of P in the near future?

            No, I don't. Because I have no reasonable basis to be inclined one way or the other about it. By the way, my belief is that P!=NP, but that does not make this belief as valid as my belief that fire-breathing dragons do not exist. Both beliefs are qualitatively different. Also, if opinion polls are all that matter, you would be surprised how many great researchers like Bollobas [wikipedia.org] think t

            • by debatem1 (1087307)
              My point was that the poster was improperly evaluating the risk of such a scenario, and making improper conclusions based on that risk. That's all.
    • Network centric computing utterly depends on security and that means encryption.

      This is not necessarily true. Many cloud computing uses are purely within an enterprise. Imagine a company the size of IBM; they have huge computing needs for both R&D and operations. Cloud computing says instead of each business unit buying and running the servers that they need, there will be a centralized pool of computing resources. Business units just reserve an appropriate server and start using it. When they no longer need that application, the resource is released back into the cloud for so

    • by HigH5 (1242290)
      Admiral Adama, is that you?
    • So you want perfect unbreakable encryption - sure it's called a one time pad and has worked and been used for years

      Problem - getting the one time pad to the person who wants to decrypt the message and making sure no-one else has it

      This is what quantum cryptography is trying to do ...

  • Red Hat calls MS' interoperability tools as vaporware, then says that cloud computing will run on Linux. Cloud computing doesn't even have a working definition more than two people are willing to agree on, so how is that not vaporware?
    • by Rayeth (1335201)
      It certainly qualifies as a joke anyhow. Cloud computing (an idea that is barely in its infancy) is no more likely to "only run Linux" than anything else. Especially considering as you say no one can really agree on what this "cloud" really even means.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Well, a bunch of Wiki editors agreed on a definition [wikipedia.org].
      • by awrowe (1110817)
        Really? Did you read the discussion page? I'd be interested to see how that works as a consensus.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Isn't cloud computing "(condensed) vaporware" by definition?

      • by Bota (968795)

        Isn't cloud computing "(condensed) vaporware" by definition?

        *removes hat* *bows* You sir and/or madam are chock full of win today.

    • Red Hat calls MS' interoperability tools as vaporware, then says that cloud computing will run on Linux.

      That's not irony because those two statements mean very different things.

      Saying that MS interoperability tools do not work well, is giving one reason why Windows probably will not fare well as a choice of server for cloud computing.

      Saying that Cloud Computing will be run on Linux is making the general observation that overall, there are a lot of factors (primarily cost) why anyone wanting to build a cloud

  • Shhh! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Nobody tell him about Joyent's massive OpenSolaris farm!

  • the Rhythm is appreciated
  • by RobBebop (947356) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @12:42PM (#24418989) Homepage Journal

    The article claims that Red Hat's new CEO, Jim Whitehurst, is the former COO at Delta Airlines, so a sky-related term like "Cloud Computing" is appropriate.

    Further down in the article they clarify the confusion in the article summary. Amazon pays big bucks to Red Hat for support so they don't have to worry about the massive infrastructure of servers (clouds) that run their online sales business. Similarly, Google uses Red Hat to deploy a percentage of their search business, but they don't pay for it because they maintain it all in-house.

    Ubuntu isn't competition because that organization isn't selling support. Jim quite astutely points out that Red Hat is not a software company (because the bits are free). Red Hat is a support company who has the capability to manage, maintenance, fix, and upgrade mission critical software for its customers. Ergo, Ubunutu doesn't compete with them, but Suse/Novell does.

    This shouldn't be anything new to the Slashdot audience, but since it made it to the mainpage I figure it is worth clarifying.

    • Yes I'm not sure why Ubuntu scored a mention. Novell would be a better match; not sure how well SUSE Linux Enterprise sells, but they're definitely trying to make inroads on the RHEL market space.

  • A CEO gets overexcited about the latest buzzword.
    • by Gazzonyx (982402)
      Hrm... from His Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org]

      [...]
      is the Chief Executive Officer at Red Hat. Before that he was a Chief Operating Officer of Delta Air Lines, Inc. In that position he was responsible for Operations, Customer Service, Network and Revenue Management, Corporate Strategy and Marketing.

      Mr. Whitehurst had most recently served as Senior Vice President and Chief Network and Planning Officer. Prior to joining Delta Air Lines in 2002, he served as Vice President and Director of The Boston Consulting Group and held various leadership roles in their Chicago, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Atlanta offices.

      A native of Columbus, Georgia, he graduated from Rice University in Houston, Texas, with a bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Economics. He also attended Erlangen Nuremberg University in Erlangen, Germany, holds a general course degree from the London School of Economics and an MBA from Harvard Business School. [...]

      Trivia

      Jim Whitehurst runs four Linux distributions. They are Fedora, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, and Damn Small Linux.
      [...]

      Perhaps you're speaking out of turn?

  • - Supported by the Free Stratosphere Foundation.
    - The latest version is Sneaky Stratus but Crafty Cumulus is now in beta.
    - An open-source version of Rainbows exists but Microsoft owns the license to the visible light portion of the spectrum and is currently seeking an injunction in federal courts.
    - The lightweight version is usually recommended. The full-featured version (Nimbostratus Ultimate) may overload your cloud, resulting in fog.
  • Can anyone explain this sentence from TFA?

    The airline industry creates a tonne of value, but it's never figured out how to extract any of it for itself. It's great for society, but never captured any money for itself.

    (That must relate to his former experience at Delta Airlines... but I just honestly don't get what he's trying to say. What "value" do airlines "create" and not "extract"?)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by geekoid (135745)

      Value: Get your ass someplace fast.
      Extract: Extracting monetary profit from society.

      It's wrong, the airlines can make a profit, but we are in a standoff.
      Once the people with the deepest pockets are the only ones left, prices will go up; which is what needs to happen. They cast for a ticket doesn't cover their Total cost.

      • the airlines can make a profit

        Right, and they certainly did in the past... Why then will he say (twice) that they "never" figured it out, "never" captured any money??

    • (That must relate to his former experience at Delta Airlines... but I just honestly don't get what he's trying to say. What "value" do airlines "create" and not "extract"?)

      Other businesses make tons of money because they have an easy way to move people around the world that is relatively cheap to the revenue they can earn. That's the value that airlines create (much of the revenue would be their without air travel). But since the airline biz is fairly competitive most of the time and actually cutthroat
  • It will be interesting to compare the resposnes to this RedHat centric article with the next Ubuntu centric article.
  • So a bunch of people are going to spend a lot of money in Cloud technology to realize it doesn't work the way they expect it to. Then it will go out of date.

    Yes it has it advantages however it isn't the solution to all problems espectially as most programmers are not properly trained in parallel processing programming. Most people will go on the assumptions that if you have 100 cores working on a problem it will be solved 100 times faster. That isn't always the case. There is often bottlenecks where code ca

    • by Zarf (5735)

      most programmers are not properly trained in parallel processing programming

      In my working experience the following has been true:

      Most system administrators have a hard time understanding JBoss at all ...

      Most programmers are not well trained at all ...

      If it requires proper training to administrate a cloud computing platform or proper training to write software for a cloud ... then cloud computing is DOOMED.

  • Thine clouds hast linux. Fare thee well.
  • This would be news if the CEO of MS said it. Coming from the CEO of RedHat, it is not even worth mentioning.

  • The more I know about Whitehurst, the more I really, genuinely like this guy. From the article on the topic of Microsoft:

    [...]But, that said, we welcome a little regulatory oversight there and also welcome good, hard competition.

    CEO of the year.

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