In a world where OS and low-level platform software is considered unfashionable, it was refreshing to see the Linux glitterati and cognoscenti descended on Boston for the last three days, 5000 strong and genuinely passionate about Linux. I spent a day there mingling with the crowds in the eshibit halls, attending some sessions and meeting with Red Hat management. Overall, the breadth of Red Hat’s offerings are overwhelming and way too much to comprehend ina single day or a handful of days, but I focused my attention on two big issues for the emerging software-defined data center – containers and the inexorable march of OpenStack.

Containers are all the rage, and Red Hat is firmly behind them, with its currently shipping RHEL Atomic release optimized to support them. The news at the Summit was the release of RHEL Atomic Enterprise, which extends the ability to execute and manage containers over a cluster as opposed to a single system. In conjunction with a tool stack such as Docker and Kubernates, this paves the way for very powerful distributed deployments that take advantage of the failure isolation and performance potential of clusters in the enterprise. While all the IP in RHEL Atomic, Docker and Kubernates are available to the community and competitors, it appears that RH has stolen at least a temporary early lead in bolstering the usability of this increasingly central virtualization abstraction for the next generation data center.

OpenStack, essentially the way for IT to keep workloads from bleeding out into the cloud, continues to mature. Red Hat remains one of the major contributors, strong promoters and leading deployment platforms for OpenStack, and OpenStack add-ons, services, tutorials and certification sessions were very much in evidence. As shown by the 2015 Ed Hat Innovator awards, for which I was one of the judges, OpenStack can be used today for significant projects running high-volume and high-value workloads. It still needs additional work, but the momentum is clearly building. The long-term playoff between OpenStack, with Red Hat and SUSE as the major beneficiaries, VMware which currently holds the enterprise crown for established and bulletproof enterprise virtual environments, and the promised on-premises Azure will be a multi-year battlefield with the enterprise computing consumer as the ultimate victor.

This was just my small taste of the event – very much interested in hearing from others who attended.