As cloud computing deployments ramp up, so too does the competitive battle for the cloud infrastructure technology supporting those deployments.
Linux vendor Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) said Tuesday that it would be supplying IBM with the underlying virtualization technology for IBMs new cloud.
Red Hat executives did not disclose financial specifics of the deal, though they did describe the win as a major one. The deal is the third major cloud virtualization technology win for Red Hat this year as it stakes a claim in the nascent market for cloud infrastructure.
"IBM could have chosen anything -- they could have gone with VMware, Microsoft's Hyper-V or something from kernel.org, but instead they chose Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV)," Scott Crenshaw, vice president and general manager of Red Hat's cloud business unit told InternetNews.com. "We think the evidence is clear that KVM is the virtualization technology of the future and that RHEV is our way of delivering that with an enterprise-class product."
Red Hats Enterprise Virtualization technology itself relies on open source KVM virtualization. The company's virtualization portfolio includes KVM virtualization in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 (RHEL) as well as a standalone hypervisor and a virtualization management server.
IBM is also no stranger when it comes to KVM and is already one of the top contributors to the open source effort.
IBM's new cloud isn't using all of Red Hat's virtualization portfolio, however.
"Suffice it to say that IBM has created a great deal of value in their management infrastructure," Crenshaw said. "This IBM cloud uses our virtualization layer as a substrate to run all of their guests on, and they also offer RHEL as a guest."
Crenshaw added that he expects IBM's cloud to scale up over time as demand warrants.
"The purchase of IT capacity via enterprise clouds that are available to the public, such as the IBM cloud, is clearly a trend that is increasing, but we're still in the early days," Crenshaw said. "I don't think that anyone expects huge portions of the company's revenues to come from clouds in the short term, and where it goes in the medium and long-term depends on demand."
Still, big wins and deployments like the IBM cloud are key for Red Hat's plans for growing out its cloud business. With IBM now using KVM and Red Hat for its public cloud, Crenshaw expects that Red Hat virtualization will now grow even faster.
"This deployment will deliver a body of knowledge and improvement to RHEV that just isnt available if you're not dealing at cloud scale," Crenshaw said. "This will also bring more users into the cloud, as the combination of Red Hat's virtualization with IBM service delivery and brand makes the cloud more consumable by more enterprise customers."
The IBM win follows Red Hat cloud wins at the Symbian Foundation and with Swedish Internet company Voddler. Crenshaw noted that all of the bids to provision cloud technologies with which he's been involved have been highly competitive.
Crenshaw said winning technologies in such bids need to be very reliable, extremely efficient and secure, and while he added that buyers are also always concerned about price, customers are also relying on thorough testing to help them make their decisions.
"Almost everyone is doing extensive testing that involves both an internal lab as well doing a bake-off between choices," Crenshaw said, .
Configuration of cloud technologies can also make a difference, and for that reason, Crenshaw said that Red Hat is now building up a new consulting practice to help cloud deployments tune their infrastructure for performance and utilization.