Red Hat Acquires PaaS Cloud vendor Makara to help compete with VMware’s vFabric

Red Hat announced on November 30, 2010, for an undisclosed sum, the acquisition of startup PaaS vendor, Makara, which provides a deployment platform for most of the Open Source application stacks (Apache, MySQL, PHP, Java, Tomcat and JBoss) onto most of the IaaS cloud infrastructures (Amazon EC2,   Amazon VPC,  Rackspace Cloud, VMware vCloud, Terremark, and Eucalyptus). Makara is not  open source, although the company was committed to open sourcing in due course, and Red Hat is aiming to accelerate that process.

Makara itself had a product strategy based on one layer in the stack, the PaaS platform, which it offered against multiple IaaS clouds.  These in turn were based on multiple hypervisors and Linux environments.  Red Hat isn’t really thinking this way. It intends to use the purchased technology rather than the product itelf. It gains additional application-level management, monitoring and configuration functionality for an emerging stand-alone PaaS offering based on its own Middleware (Jboss), its own IaaS platform (Deltacloud with RHEV-M), it’s own Operating System (RHEL) and its own hypervisor, KVM.  Obviously you don’t need to use all of the pieces, but by pushing the buying decision up the stack to the PaaS level, Red Hat seeks to drive its customers towards a fully RHEL-cloud, in the same way that  (as we have commented in the past) Microsoft seeks to remove vMware from the Microsoft stack. In turn, vMware has its SpringSource PaaS offering which (apart from its dependence on a Linux Operating System provided through a deal with Novell) is a self-contained PaaS stack designed to retain its customers.

Using Makara involves

  • Specifying an IaaS cloud (multiple clouds can be used for the same application, for example vSphere and EC2)
  • Specifying the language environment (PHP or Java)
  • Specifying which supported web server, database, middleware, and application components (e.g. Zend Framework)
  • Uploading your application code
  • Configuring and scaling the various application layers

Red Hat isn’t being clear about how Makara will end up in its own products  It is safe to say that most of the pieces will be unrecognizeable once the integration is fiunished.  For example, one of the more interesting aspects of the Makara is the “auto-scaling” feature. Makara contains its own monitoring tools.  These are not necessarily comparable with those that you might deploy into an IaaS platform but are there to instrument the deployed components to collect data for a rules engine which can make decisions on the fly about scaling out the various tiers in an application.  The actual monitoring tools will likely not survive the transition to Red Hat, but the principle of auto-scaling the stack will likely remain.

The standalone Makara product was similar in concept to the 3Tera product acquired by Computer Associates.  (The main difference is that 3Tera isn’t designed to be layered onto an IaaS platform, and thus deals with some issues like security that a typical IaaS platform provides). It is clear that the Red Hat/Makara deal signals an intent by Red Hat to provide the the PaaS layer along with the IaaS and O/S rather than to let third parties provide PaaS on top of RHEL, and in turn means that CA has a window of opportunity to establish a standalone PaaS play before Red Hat assimilates the Makara Technology and delivers its own product.

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