Red Hat acquisition opens way for new cloud services

Makara buy provides technologies for new offerings

The government cloud services market just heated up a bit more. Red Hat’s recently announced acquisition of Makara, a platform-as-a-service firm, indicates that the open-source technology provider is ready to compete with the likes of Microsoft and Google. Analysts note that the bottom line of the acquisition is that federal, state and local agencies have more choices for cloud service providers.

Red Hat executives said they chose Makara because its platform-as-a-service (PaaS) technology allows organizations to deploy, manage, monitor and scale applications on both private and public clouds. Makara technologies will help speed the development of Red Hat’s PaaS offering as part of its Cloud Foundations portfolio of products for flexible and open IT architectures.

Terms of the Makara acquisition were not disclosed.

According to Makara CEO Issac Roth, his firm’s technology both supports and makes it easy to secure cloud applications for JBoss enterprise middleware and PHP applications. He said deploying to the cloud has its challenges, and scaling must be automatic. Makara allows organizations to maintain costs by automatically scaling services up or down as needs change.

Makara also manages the complete software stack, with everything visible down to individual applications, Roth said. Makara will integrate its capabilities into Red Hat’s PaaS applications. In JBoss and PHP applications, Makara provides monitoring, an applications portal, a cloud user portal and a PaaS automation engine. Makara also works consistently with enterprise applications, he said.

Scott Crenshaw, vice president of Red Hat’s cloud business unit, said the Red Hat/Makara offering is the broadest application solution in the industry and provides clouds that are consistent between the cloud and enterprise environments. The offering can migrate existing applications to the cloud without modifications, as long as it is written in Red Hat Linux. Roth added that there is a different method for SalesForce.com users, who can write to existing languages such as Linux and then have the middleware deploy to public and private clouds. A free trial is available online at Makara.com.

Crenshaw said customers are deploying JBoss PaaS today. Makara technology will be deployed throughout these solutions, including the PaaS automation engine. The technology will be developed into a cohesive solution.

Red Hat’s acquisition of Makara provides an alternative to PaaS providers that are now in the market, such as Microsoft, Google Apps and SalesForce.com, said George Hamilton, a principal analyst at the Yankee Group.

One challenge is that many organizations want to build cloud applications, but they are hesitant to tie that tool to a particular cloud provider. Hamilton said the acquisition signaled to the market that there is a new PaaS capability in play that it is not tied to a particular cloud platform.

The acquisition again raises the question of vendor lock-in for cloud services. Hamilton said that was a major issue for a time, but it has lost its relevance. He said recent releases by OpenStack and VMware are pushing for more application portability across platforms, but other firms are advocating being locked into a specific platform.

The move by Red Hat presents managers and administrators with more possibilities. Hamilton said this is a general trend in cloud services. “There are more options—that’s the good news and the bad news,” he said. “It makes the decisions a little harder to make with such a nascent, early market.”

Because the cloud market is still developing, Hamilton advised organizations not to put all of their eggs in one basket, either with a vendor or a platform. He said most firms and agencies are approaching the issue strategically in a business process-by-process manner, looking for the most cost-effective approach.

Because the Red Hat cloud solution is based on an open-source Linux platform, it allows organizations to build and deploy custom applications without shouldering the costs of prepackaged software, he said.

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