Red Hat denies using ‘strongarm tactics’ on OpenStack

medium_231389384Red Hat has come out in denial of a report from the Wall Street Journal that it refuses to support users of Red Hat Enterprise Linux who also run non-Red Hat versions of OpenStack. The company said in a blog post that it will continue to provide commercial support for its Linux distro regardless of what OpenStack version people are using.

“To be clear, users are free to deploy Red Hat Enterprise Linux with any OpenStack offering, and there is no requirement to use our OpenStack technologies to get a Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription,” said Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s president for products and technologies, in a blog post.

This came after the WSJ insisted that the opposite was true:

“In its quest to sell OpenStack, Red Hat has chosen not to provide support to its commercial Linux customers if they use rival versions of OpenStack,” it reported, citing company “documents” provided by unknown sources.

Basically, the WSJ was asserting that Red Hat would refuse to provide support for its Red Hat Enterprise Linux platform if customers chose to run an alternative (non-Red Hat) version of OpenStack. Such a move would be unprecedented – and surely annoy the hell out of many of its customers – most people tend to have an aversion to lock-in these days, after all.

This is an important issue because one of the main reasons Red Hat’s enterprise Linux is so popular is because of the support it provides. The WSJ suggests that Red Hat is trying to leverage its dominant position with Linux for enterprises, and force customers to use its OpenStack version and no one else’s.

Now, Cormier has stated quite clearly that Red Hat is not going to do this. “Red Hat’s track record of supporting collaborative innovation and our unwavering commitment to truly open open source are unparalleled,” he wrote in his blog post.

Red Hat is probably the most prominent of several major tech firms, including Canonical, Hewlett-Packard and Mirantis, that all offer their own tailored and supported OpenStack versions. As with the others, Red Hat offers support for all the components shipped with its Linux distro, but does not support third-party software. As such, it’ll provide support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, but refuses to help customers who have problems with other OpenStack variants (though don’t be surprised if you can apply Red Hat’s patches to the new Oracle-flavored OpenStack).

The WSJ’s story comes as the annual OpenStack Summit takes place in Atlanta this week. As one of the biggest proponents of OpenStack, Red Hat has had a major presence at this year’s event. One of its highlights was its announcement of a new partnership with storage and data management solution provider NetApp to deliver what the companies described as a new “open hybrid cloud reference architecture.” That architecture promises to help companies more easily build interoperable private and hybrid clouds, Red Hat said.

Red Hat thinks OpenStack has the potential to become a massive source of revenue, but it has a long way before it gets there. Karl Keirstead, a research analyst at Deutsche Bank, told Infoworld that for all the interest in OpenStack, few mainstream enterprises have actually adopted the platform. Meanwhile, those who do will often choose to ‘go it alone’, without paying for commercial support.

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