Red Hat, IBM sign on for OpenStack

Two tech powers — IBM(s ibm) and Red Hat(s rht) — are ready to officially bless OpenStack’s open source cloud project.

The news — which should come next week or the week after at the OpenStack Spring Conference — is a big boost to OpenStack, which was battered this week by Citrix’s(s ctsx) plans to position CloudStack as an OpenStack competitor.

No one from IBM, Red Hat or OpenStack would comment, but sources say this is a done deal. In fact, IBM kind of joined OpenStack in February — at least it appeared on a list of OpenStack contributors. But no announcement was made.

Jonathan Bryce, an OpenStack Project Policy Board member, has been out talking about the new OpenStack release code-named Essex, and said to expect new members to be announced soon but did not provide details.

However, he did say Red Hat worked “a lot on packaging” for Essex so that it will be easier for the software to be bundled with Linux distributions. OpenStack, for example, will be bundled in the Ubuntu Linux long-term support release and Fedora. Will it be in Red Hat Enterprise Linux? “We have nothing to announce,” said Bryce, who is also co-founder of Rackspace Cloud(s rax).

Red Hat gets over qualms

Red Hat, which fields the OpenShift platform as a service, has been ambivalent about OpenStack, contributing to some projects, but staying mum about whether it would officially join the effort. Many said Rackspace’s decision last fall to cede control of the effort to an OpenStack Foundation might change that. Rackspace promised the board would be set up in 2012. And there have been other signs that Red Hat is warming up to OpenStack (as well as Amazon(s amzn)) on the public cloud front, as The Register reported earlier this week.

The Citrix news was seen as a setback to the OpenStack process (Citrix was a member) but the effort still includes other big names including Hewlett-Packard (s hpq), Cisco (s csco) and others. HP is expected to talk up its cloud projects next week and Biri Singh, HP’s SVP of cloud services, will speak at the OpenStack conference in San Francisco.  Bryce also noted that Citrix, the CloudStack news notwithstanding, continues to work on aspects of OpenStack.

While a lot of these industry alliances are more marketing than substance, Red Hat and IBM are forces both in the open source world and in cloud computing so it’s hard to argue that their sign off doesn’t give OpenStack more credibility.