Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) drove the Linux operating system worldwide and in the process became the leading open source developer. Now as recent deals continue to show the Hatters are taking the same “open” philosophy to the cloud. By offering free “test drives” on Amazon’s cloud, Red Hat is taking its Red Hat Enterprise Linux model to the cloud that made RHEL a dominant force on Wall Street.

The latest cloud move Red Hat is making became clear Monday with the announcement of a formal alliance to cross-sell, develop, promote and support products with Hortonworks, which is the big force in Hadoop software for running cloud operations. Red Hat also recently embraced CentOS, a Red Hat “clone.” 

WRALTechWire talked with Bob Wilson, senior director of North America Channel Sales and Alliances for Red Hat, about the recent Amazon Web Services, or AWS, deal. 

  • I see that AWS has been offering RHEL services since 2012, so how is this “test drive” offering different? By working with your partners to learn how to implement RHEL services that they otherwise might have had to do on their own or with help of their own consultants?

We’ve been offering Red Hat Enterprise Linux for 7 years on AWS – one of the first OS’s available on their cloud.

The thing we like about the test drives is that it allows Red Hat partners to create solutions for common customer issues. These solutions allow us to extend our offerings on AWS beyond just RHEL with products such as Red Hat Storage, Openshift Enterprise, Red Hat JBoss middleware and others.

Additionally, because these test drives are solutions-focused it allows us and our partners to sell directly into lines of business within an enterprise.”

  • Is RHEL already operative within AWS? Or are these partnerships designed to drive integration of AWS and RHEL?

Red Hat Enterprise Linux has been available as a pay-as-you-go offering on AWS since 2007. Certainly our partnerships with CITYTECH, Shadow-Soft and Vizuri are designed to promote our joint solutions on AWS.

  • How does this announcement add on to the benefits Red Hat hopes to gain from the recently announced CentOS agreement?

They are unrelated. Our announcement today, and the availability of our partners’ Test Drives on AWS, is based on commercially available versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

  • Does taking RHEL into AWS have any impact on Red Hat’s OpenStack efforts? Are AWS and OpenStack (RackSpace) notcompetitive/competitors?

No impact at this time; Red Hat strives to make its products and solutions widely available on public clouds, including a wide variety of service providers globally.

  • Others have written that Red Hat needs to embrace AWS in order to grow its cloud market share and revenues. Does RHT concur with that belief?

As one of Red Hat’s strategic partners, we continue to provide Red Hat solutions on AWS, which allows our customers a choice when building out their hybrid cloud architectures. Our customers, and the cloud market as a whole, have a direction toward hybrid cloud.

In fact, Gartner predicts that nearly half of all Large Enterprises Will Have Hybrid Cloud Deployments by the End of 2017. We agree that AWS provides Red Hat with additional opportunities as more workloads are launched on public clouds like AWS.

  • How in your view does this AWS agreement better position RHT to compete with VMware and other private cloud offerings?

In context of our partners’ test drives on AWS that we announced today, their solutions can take advantage of Red Hat’s open, enterprise-class products which can be deployed on AWS. A wider choice of cloud solutions broadens marketability for both Red Hat, as well as our partners.

  • Is Red Hat paying for the AWS resources/space/etc. needed to support the “test drives?”

Red Hat doesn’t disclose financial arrangements with its partners. It is important to point out that any end customer who wants to use one of our partners’ test drives does not incur any costs in doing so. Test Drives on AWS offer a new, innovative way to experience software and solutions prior to incurring any costs.