One issue for Fortune 500 companies in the modern tech era is figuring out how to build and run their own software in the most productive way. Is it with their own data centers? Or in data centers run by a third-party public cloud company? Or is it a combination?
Given that nearly all companies—including those that build physical goods like appliances, cars, and airplanes—have to craft their own custom software to do their jobs, this is a big issue.
That’s why Red Hat (RHAT) and Amazon (AMZN) say they want to make it easier for corporate developers to use Red Hat’s development software, which can run in-house to tap into databases and other services in Amazon’s cloud as well. A corporate developer could mix and match software services running on the company’s own servers or “out there” on Amazon Web Services to get the best of both worlds.
“There’s a lot of innovation on AWS. This makes OpenShift more attractive to more developers, but it’s also a storefront for Amazon features and products,”Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst told Fortune during an interview at the Red Hat Summit tech conference in Boston. Whitehurst said he started discussing this plan with AWS chief executive Andy Jassy in January.
Red Hat is not alone in trying to woo corporate users with better ties to AWS. Last fall, VMware (VMW) and Amazon (AMZN) said they were working on a way to deploy VMware workloads on AWS, for example.
Amazon (AMZN) is the largest public cloud, with Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform generally considered the other top contenders. If a business is thinking of moving some data or workloads to a public cloud—basically a massive array of servers, storage, and networking owned and managed by one company—AWS is almost always on the short list.
Related: VMware and Amazon Craft Cloud Pact
To be clear, AWS services run in Amazon’s cloud data centers only. But as Red Hat (RHAT) noted in its press release, OpenShift software customers will be able to configure and deploy AWS database, data warehouse and other services “with just few clicks from directly within the Red Hat OpenShift console.”
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The OpenShift integration is an extension of an existing alliance. Customers have been able to run the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) operating system on AWS for a decade. And they could already buy and run OpenShift itself on AWS, as they can on Azure and Google Cloud Platform. The difference here is deeper integration between OpenShift running on customer premises and AWS services running on, well, AWS.
And given Red Hat’s prominence among big companies—most of which use Red Hat’s version of the Linux operating system—it also gives AWS a better hybrid cloud story. Many companies still balk at the notion of putting a ton of their workloads on any one cloud fearing lock-in. They might be more comfortable using many clouds in what is called a hybrid cloud model, or keep running some jobs in-house. In theory, OpenShift, which runs on a bunch of clouds, as well as on premises, lets them hedge that bet.
“Developers today don’t really have to know or care where various services are running,” said Matt Hicks, Red Hat vice president of engineering told Fortune. But they do want a single place to manage and monitor those services. Red Hat clearly hopes OpenShift will be that place.
As for other public cloud providers, Michael Ferris, vice president of technical business development, said that IBM (IBM) Bluemix is also a large partner. “The announcements you see us do reflect customer demand, but our overall intent through our CCSD program is make sure we can partner at all levels.” (CCSD is Red Hat’s Certified Cloud and Service Provider program.)
As to whether Red Hat will offer similar OpenShift integration with Microsoft (MSFT) and Google (GOOG), Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s president of products and technologies said: “All three are strong partners, and you can expect progression on all three constantly although there’s nothing to announce.”