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On June 22, 2017, Red Hat introduced its production-ready fully open-source hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) software bundle, incorporating Red Hat Virtualization, Red Hat Gluster Storage, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), and Ansible by Red Hat.

The validation, certification, and support by Red Hat of all these components working together is significant. Essentially, Red Hat is laying out the blueprint of how to use open source software to create an HCI environment. So, the question that begs to be asked is, why even license this from Red Hat. The answer is simple – simplicity in deployment, and support.

Red Hat has built an installer that deploys the Red Hat HCI architecture that makes it foolproof. Additionally, a licensed Red Hat HCI with a maintenance support contract will ensure that the environment is sustainable.

This is a very bold move by Red Hat. The blueprint could easily be reverse engineered, and probably will be, by customers who simply do not want to pay for software, and are willing to take the risk of supporting the environment on their own. That said, what it does show is that Red Hat believes that there is a ready market for a software-only HCI play.

The release of Red Hat HCI was just a week before the Nutanix .NEXT conference, in which, Nutanix, a leader in the HCI market announced that it would take a software-first approach to its business model – essentially validating Red Hat’s approach.

Another significance to the Red Hat HCI solution is that the demands from the hardware is relatively modest. For a small deployment, Red Hat recommends a minimum of a dual-socketed 6-core server, with 64 GB RAM.

For customers who are highly dependent on Linux based applications, Neuralytix believes that the Red Hat HCI solution will be ideal. It does avoid the “VMware tax,” representing the premium cost of VMware licenses.

Even for those customers with a mixed operating system (OS) environment, the underlying hypervisor, Red Hat KVM is stable, and well supported. It can be argued strongly, that the Red Hat HCI solution minimizes vendor lock-in. With traditional HCI, the software is proprietary. But, like all HCI deployments, once a deployment starts, and scales, it is very difficult to move away from whatever platform was initially chosen – it is this property of HCI, that gives it its “stickiness” for vendors.

Neuralytix believes that Red Hat HCI will open up a new element of competitive in the hotly contested HCI market, although we do not believe Red Hat will have much impact on the market shares of leading HCI vendors for the foreseeable future.