Friday, September 5, 2008

Red Hat Acquires Qumranet: Tactical or Strategic?

I just saw the news that Red Hat acquired Qumranet for $107M:
"The acquisition includes Qumranet's virtualization solutions, including its KVM (Kernel Virtual Machine) platform and SolidICE offering, a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), which together present a comprehensive virtualization platform for enterprise customers."

While the price seems a little high, this is not a surprising move since Red Hat leverages libvirt as its pluggable hypervisor layer that supports Xen, KVM, and other virtualization technologies. This move now gives Red Hat much more control over KVM, offsetting their relative lack of control over Xen, for instance.

This announcement begs the following question, however:

Is this a strategic or tactical move by Red Hat?

My initial reaction is that while virtualization is arguably a strategic capability, this move by Red Hat feels very tactical and inward-facing (i.e. garner more control over KVM). And while the SolidICE appears to be really cool desktop virtualization technology, I fear it will get lost within what has been a very confusing Red Hat desktop strategy.

OK, so if I don't consider this move strategic, then what kind of strategic move would I advise Red Hat to make?

Red Hat is strong on the server with both RHEL and JBoss/Metamatrix, but they are generally weak in management of that stack. Yes, they have Red Hat Network, JBoss Operations Network, and other technologies, but their management story is incomplete and tactical in execution.

A strategic move would be for Red Hat to acquire both Virtual Iron and Hyperic.

This would give them impressive management capabilities....across virtualization, networks, storage, middleware, databases, etc.

Would my suggestion cost Red Hat more than $107M? Of course it would. But it would establish Red Hat as a real player in the management software market in a way that complements their leadership positions in the server operating system and middleware markets.

Those are my 2 cents. I'd love to hear from you if you disagree or have other strategic suggestions for Red Hat.

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