Red Hat (RHT) is taking off in the world of open source virtualization solutions for the cloud—or it has scored a major enterprise customer, at least. This week, it announced that British Airways (BA) is deploying the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization platform to power its private cloud, an important win for a Red Hat product that until now has seen few enterprise adoptions on this scale.

The Red Hat product will power both the BA website, which sees traffic of 450,000 visitors on an average day, and internal BA cloud applications. The deployment involves 750 virtual machines on 130 hosts spread across two data centers.

According to a statement Red Hat released announcing the news, Red Hat's "functionality, value and avoidance of vendor lock-in ­ for the production environment" were key considerations in attracting BA's business. More specifically, Red Hat said, it was able to offer BA "a more cost-effective option than proprietary virtualization offerings" that "worked well with other elements of their open source IT infrastructure, including systems based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Satellite."

Compatibility with other Red Hat products that already are part of the BA infrastructure appears to have been an especially important consideration. "We have used Red Hat solutions in various parts of our business for 10 years, and we are pleased to continue our long-standing relationship by deploying Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization," said BA Linux and Unix consultant Richard Dawson. "As developers need to create and delete environments quickly, a highly scalable solution is critical for us and this advantage then means that we don’t need to over-commit on our IT plans."

Red Hat is already a huge player in the open source cloud and virtualization ecosystems. But this is the first announcement of a huge customer endorsement for the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization platform, making it an important signal of adoption of the product within the enterprise.