Crenshaw, much like Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst, positions the open source company as the most complete cloud alternative to Microsoft's closed-source solutions. Crenshaw points to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and JBoss Middleware as key components for public and private cloud opportunities.
But here's the twist: Red Hat concedes that some customers may want to mix and match multi-vendor solutions -- perhaps leveraging an operating system from Red Hat, middleware from IBM, and then virtualization from Red Hat. (That's my hypothetical example, not Red Hat's.)
To be sure, Red Hat continues to gain momentum with customers and channel partners. A prime example: For its third quarter ended November 30, 2010, Red Hat's revenue grew 21 percent to $235.6 million and net income reached $26 million, up from $16.4 million during Q3 the previous year. Translation: Red Hat remains on track to become the first $1 billion (annual revenues) open source software supplier within the next couple of years.
Still, challenges loom on multiple fronts. CEO Whitehurst claims Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) can eventually leapfrog VMware, but he concedes RHEV needs enhanced management tools to fulfill that vision. Also, Red Hat faces heated competition in the cloud computing market -- from Microsoft Windows Azure, Rackspace OpenStack, and even Oracle's growing cloud initiatives.
Crenshaw believes Red Hat's open source approach will prevail, because partners and customers can mix-and-match Red Hat's software with third-party offerings. TalkinCloud will be watching to see if Crenshaw is right.
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