The big news from Red Hat yesterday was its deal with Amazon to host Red Hat Enterprise Linux on its EC2 service (a great move, as Tim O'Reilly notes). Why big? Because Red Hat just significantly raised the bar on ease of adoption for Linux.
In fact, Red Hat just raised the bar for all operating systems/infrastructure technology, and not merely other Linux vendors.
As Red Hat notes:
Linux Automation. The ability to run any application, on any system, at any time. Allowing IT to simplify their IT infrastructure in the process. With the belief that undue complexity and over-architecture will have both short and long term costs....
The RHEL application world, at 3000+ certification strong, is growing at the rate of approximately a new application every day. Application choice is critical for IT. The stability of the RHEL platform, and its release-to-release continuity allows application growth to continue without disruption...
Today we announce that the platform choice for RHEL has extended one further. Dedicated and virtual servers are now joined by a 3rd twin, with RHEL being available as an on-demand choice as part of Amazon EC2. With a supported ISV catalog 3000+ strong...
RHEL5 with integrated virtualization has built application mobility into the OS. Transparent to all applications on the platform. The resources apportioned to an application can be changed on demand. Applications can be live migrated to another system, ending the scheduling of planned outages. High availability delivered to all applications on the platform, at low cost.
While Red Hat didn't invent this paradigm shift in computing, it is arguably better placed than most to drive it. I suspect that the way the entire open-source ecosystem buys/sells/supports software just got a massive jolt, one that will be much better for customers than the old world. The new world is about productivity, not the technology itself. Technology is a means to that end.
Giving users control over their IT through open source was the first step. Giving them mastery over the software experience through virtualization and hosted applications is the next step.
One open question: will this kill off rPath and other virtual appliance companies that grew up in the shadow of Raleigh? I suspect not. But I do think Billy and team are going to have to craft a response to this appliance opportunity and threat. Quickly.