Amazon to host Red Hat Linux online

In a move that’s somewhat divergent from the direction they’ve been headed, Red Hat recently announced that RHEL will soon be available on the Amazon EC2 platform. I say somewhat divergent because Red Hat had been clearly focused on the Enterprise market for a while now. From the article:

Red Hat on Wednesday announced a significant departure from its current business plan, saying its flagship Linux product will be available on Amazon.com’s Elastic Computing Cloud online service.

Previously, the Raleigh, N.C.-based company only sold its Red Hat Enterprise Linux product in the form of a support contract costing between $349 and $2,499 per year. But in a beta program beginning in the fourth quarter, the software will be available on Amazon’s EC2 infrastructure, Red Hat said.

The move also signals a new phase in EC2. By using RHEL, a supported product for which numerous applications are certified, the online service looks more like a variation of an existing, established software product and less like a radical departure from how computing is typically performed today.

Currently, EC2, still in beta, is effectively a blank slate on which customers install and manage their own software.

The Amazon partnership was among a host of Red Hat announcements. In addition, the company upgraded its RHEL to version 5.1, including new virtualization abilities with Xen 3.1, announced an upcoming RHEL version geared for use embedded as a foundation for software companies’ products, and declared an ambitious goal to conquer half the server market.

Pricing for the Red Hat EC2 option is variable–a classic example of the “pay as you go” philosophy that some prefer, because it ties expenses to actual use, though it can be less predictable. The service will cost $19 per month plus 21, 53, or 94 cents per hour, depending on computing and storage capacity, plus 11 cents per gigabyte transferred in and 19 cents per gigabyte transferred out.

Amazon is doing some really cool things lately and I think this move makes a lot of sense for Red Hat. They have been really emphasizing virtualization recently, and EC2 plays right into that. When EC2 comes out of Beta (which to me means: an SLA, some kind of persistent storage and a static IP) it will be an extremely compelling platform.

–jeremy

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