With Amazon looming, Red Hat and Microsoft continue their interpretive dance

chess piece standoff

When it comes to the server operating systems running in large companies, the big dogs are Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and Microsoft Windows Server — with a smattering of other Linux flavors and maybe a few remnant Unix servers still chugging along.

And it’s clear that Red Hat and Microsoft covet each others’ customers. That’s why Red Hat this week announced that Microsoft .NET applications will now run on its RHEL-based OpenShift PaaS, and will do so, as ZDnet pointed out, without any help from Microsoft. Instead Red Hat relied on Uhuru Software for open-source technology to get the job done.

openshift

In a blog post announcing the news, OpenShift Technical Director Chris Morgan wrote that since Red Hat launched OpenShift two years ago:

“… customers have often asked us, ‘What about Microsoft .NET apps on OpenShift?’ We listened, and are excited to announce that we are collaborating with Uhuru Software to bring Microsoft .NET and SQL Server capabilities to OpenShift, as an open source community-driven effort in OpenShift Origin. OpenShift Origin is the upstream community project that drives innovation for both our OpenShift Online service and OpenShift Enterprise product.

If you talk to enterprise customers, they do wish their major vendors would just get over themselves and assure a better coexistence. “Almost all companies our size run RHEL and Windows,” said the IT manager of a large U.S. bank, who requested anonymity since he’s not authorized to speak to media. “And it would be really nice if they took the roadblocks out.”

windows_azureFiddling while Rome burns?

This thirst for better Red Hat-Microsoft coexistence, including the ability to run RHEL on Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud, prompted my “Microsoft should just buy Red Hat” story last week. Microsoft gets lots of requests from business users to run RHEL on Azure. And right now, they do not do so, not for any technical reason but because their Red Hat license prohibits it.

Asked to clarify the RHEL-on-Azure status, Microsoft’s Mark Sorenson said that under the terms of Red Hat’s subscription agreement “customers are restricted from running RHEL with a public cloud vendor that is not certified under the Red Hat Certified Cloud Provider Program.”

Red Hat logoAs should be clear by now, Windows Azure is not thus certified. Sorenson, who is planner of IaaS+PaaS for Windows Azure Engineering, reiterated that Microsoft and Red Hat are talking about this issue but there is no resolution yet.

So the battle, which started out between RHEL and Windows Server in company’s server rooms and data centers, is spilling over into the cloud.

Asked about the RHEL-Azure issue last week, Red Hat had no comment. Meanwhile, as these two enterprise software giants duke it out, Amazon Web Services, the public cloud of choice for small shops and startups and which runs multiple OSes including Windows Server and RHEL, is doing its best to become the cloud of choice for enterprises as well.

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