Red Hat OpenStack, the open source company's next big product, will grab a massive spotlight during Red Hat Summit (June 11-14, Boston). For channel partners and cloud services providers (CSPs), the summit could provide new clues about when Red Hat OpenStack will actually launch, and which CSPs and enterprises will be among the first customers to embrace the new platform.

Generally speaking, OpenStack is an open source platform for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). It can be used for private clouds or public clouds. But like Linux itself, OpenStack will have multiple distributions from multiple companies -- ranging from start-ups to established software providers.

Roughly 17 sessions at Red Hat Summit will focus on OpenStack. Best known for its Linux distribution, Red Hat has been working hard to diversify its revenue and product streams -- promoting virtualization, storage and middleware solutions through channel partners.

Red Hat has been contributing to the OpenStack project for more than a year and announced its own OpenStack distribution in August 2012. More recently, Red Hat has launched its own Red Hat OpenStack community (called RDO). The company has also offered an OpenStack evaluation platform that works with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3 (RHEL) or higher. The evaluation lets partners or customers create a three-node OpenStack test cluster.

Red Hat is quick to note that the evaluation software is free, unsupported and not for production use. But The VAR Guy has a sneaky suspicion that will change when Red Hat Summit arrives. By that time, The VAR Guy suspects, Red Hat will move far closely to announcing an actual ship date plus channel strategy for Red Hat OpenStack.

That's good news for channel partners. At present there is a shortage of OpenStack certified professionals. As a result, Red Hat's existing channel partners could gain first-mover advantage in the OpenStack market -- assuming Red Hat's distribution is worth selling and promoting to customers...

The VAR Guy hopes to share more information once Red Hat Summit arrives. Among the sessions worth watching: A Red Hat OpenStack Partner Panel hosted by Mike Werner, senior director, worldwide ecosystems, Red Hat...