Red Hat announced today that it has signed up a number of Premier Business partners in Europe to help users embark on Cloud Computing projects, including Sabeo, Quru and LinuxIT. We’ve noted before that the relative youth of KVM and associated systems management products mean it lags behind both Microsoft’s Hyper-V/Sytems Center and (especially) Vmware’s ESX/vCenter combinations in terms of being the hub of a virtualisation ecosystem. Signing up these and other partners which specialise in the implementation of Open Source virtualisation projects is an important stem towards catching up.

Red Hat, unlike its 2 larger competitors, bases its commercial approach on adding services to Open Source software – which means that it has competition at the heart of its ecosystem from the community itself and smaller suppliers with a similar approach. Customers choosing to build KVM-based virtualisation solutions can pick up the software for free, supporting the integration themselves, or choosing a different integrator. However, we expect increasing numbers to pick Red Hat itself, due to the complexity of the projects and the need for on-going support.

RedHat has always been an Open Source vendor, charging subscriptions for support and adding pre-integrated features to community developments. One advantage is in expenses, since its developers build just 13% of the code used in its products. It charges annual subscriptions for support on top of (largely) free software. It has been a successful strategy, with the company’s annual revenues now standing at $1 billion. The model failed in the last few years of Sun’s independence, largely because it tried to fit it into a traditional software business. Other software vendors (including Microsoft and VMware) have significant challenges in moving to SaaS and/or Open Source support models, due to the difficulty in balancing revenues and customer expectations. So Red Hat’s developing ecosystem is likely to remain very different.

We’re currently investigating the issues of storage hypervisors in the KVM space – especially how Red Hat uses its Gluster acquisition of October 2011 to address the technical and Open Source issues. Stay tuned.

To discover our storage hypervisor research proposition, click here.

Image Credit: Hingley

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