The good open source lord giveth, and it taketh away, and no one knows this better than Red Hat. As Red Hat chief executive Jim Whitehurst declared at this week's Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco, California, open source and its children – including cloud computing – are laying waste to the economics of how …
Parts standardization much older
than the screw lathe. It was pioneered by the Springfield armory in the 1819 for rifle stocks and before that by the British Navy for tackle blocks...
IMHO, RedHat's biggest problem is that they are not rapidly iterating their core products. Time & time again I see people having to go through giant work arounds to support modern software on RHEL. It's gotten to the point where Debian or Ubuntu are much better choices for modern architectures and solutions like Turn Key Linux make cloud deployment + scalability cheap & easy.
In some ways, RH is like MSFT in that they have a large, old and conservative user base that is being forced into the 21st century - and their software stack reflects that legacy. The question is really whether they can move fast enough to support modern RAILS like architectures with automated provisioning tools like Puppet, Chef & Salt. As of right now, they are a second choice - not ideal, but nobody ever got fired for choosing Redhat....
Re: Parts standardization much older
Redhat is an ecosystem. It's more than just RHEL. Yes, the official RHEL has slow package adoption. That is because they must test EVERY PACKAGE to work with EVERY OTHER PACKAGE.
But there are others. Fedora is bleeding edge, if you like. It's still very much a part of the Red Hat ecosystem. There are also additional repositories such as "Extras" or RPMForge. (http://wiki.centos.org/AdditionalResources/Repositories/RPMForge).
RHEL and derivatives are designed to be rock solid and stable. But this is open source; there are all sorts of ways to inject "newer" into that, if you are prepared to take the risk. Ways that can still use "yum install [package name]".
As Red Hat gets larger, they will have the ability to add more warm bodies to QA. Really, that's what is needed. More eyes testing things, and that requires an even larger company. But don't expect any company that's made its way to a billion dollars to give up on the thing that got it there:
Providing a rock solid, reliable, easy to use implementation of open source software.