RedHat recently announced that premium enterprise subscription customers are now able to move their Red Hat Linux licenses to the Amazon cloud in the form of EC2 instance. Amazon EC2 is the first cloud provider that Red Hat is supporting for this service.

If you have a block of Red Hat Linux licenses, you can now enroll with the company to enable these to be authorized on an EC2 instance with your Amazon account. We took a few moments to sit down with the team from Red Hat to learn more about the details of the partnership.

Going Elastic

One of the big reasons motivations is the ability to support enterprise use cases, such as web hosting, that are increasingly including a part of their service in the cloud. Red Hat is committing to make the latest versions of Red Hat Linux available on Amazon EC2 at the same time as their normal release. This includes both 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Red Hat Linux.

Red Hat is already supported on virtualization platforms such as VMware and (of course) KVM, so this move is a natural extension in giving IT the ability to run a Red Hat image wherever and however they host their compute resources.

A Few Considerations

One nice thing about Red Hat in the Amazon cloud is that the company is proving updates to the OS to the Amazon customers as well.

Of course, this is available today in the normal subscription service, but in talking to the company we were able to envision a cloud future where your Red Hat instances on EC2 "report in" through a messaging service that they are ready to be updated. We can see a time where provisioning updates, including pulling servers out of the pool gracefully, reconnecting them, could be triggered by a Red Hat update and automated through the pool of services.

Red Hat emphasizes that when hosting your licenses on Amazon EC2 that you will be billed for what you use. Just like you can configure instances spin-up and down based on need, your license pool can extend as well. Like the core computing billing the license tally will follow this pattern. Something to consider when you are allocating licenses. We wonder if there will be an "elastic pool" someday, or if the company will offer deeper incentives for scaling.

Getting Started

The Red Hat Cloud Access subscription feature is available for Amazon EC2 now. To learn more about Cloud Access, visit http://www.redhat.com/solutions/cloud/access/

Here's a few more resources we found that are a good starting point:

Red Hat Linux in Amazon's cloud makes sense for enterprise customers. We like the fact that the company launched in a way that supports existing license holders and enables license portability.

Red Hat is also helping companies build clouds with its virtualization technology and large asset in Linux. The company is positioning itself to be a force in cloud computing by continuing its legacy of open software.

We wonder: Will all software platforms move to Amazon? Will there a be a time that the "cloud distribution" is the first priority at Red Hat and other operating system releases?