During the five years that Red Hat has been building out its OpenShift cloud applications platform, much of the focus has been on making it easier to use by customers looking to adapt to an increasingly cloud-centric world for both new and legacy applications. Just as it did with the Linux operating system through Red Hat Enterprise Linux and related middleware and tools, the vendor has worked to make it easier for enterprises to embrace OpenShift.
That has included a major reworking of the platform with the release of version 3.0 last year, which ditched Red Hat’s in-house technologies for abstracting resources for applications and managing containers in favor of the increasingly popular Kubernetes, the software container management system that Google open sourced and that is inspired by its internal Borg cluster and container controller. Red Hat has continued to push the development of OpenShift since, rolling out a number of versions since then, keeping in time with work being done by the open source Kubernetes project.
OpenShift took a central role this week at the Red Hat Summit in Boston, with the company taking particular aim at developers. A number of new products and an expanded partnership with Amazon Web Services were aimed at making it easier for programmers to develop applications that are containerized and developed for hybrid cloud environments. As innovation in the industry has accelerated, it has given rise to an increasingly complex world of hybrid clouds.
“The price of innovation is complexity,” Paul Cormier, president of products and technologies at Red Hat, said at the conference, adding that OpenShift and similar technologies are examples of this complexity. “Our job is make it consumable, to make it consumable and secure. Our core goal is to make OpenShift consumable by our customers.”
A growing number of large enterprises – from BMW and Disney to Barclay’s, Lufthansa and GovTech – are all adopting OpenShift, and at the show unveiled a number of new customer wins that include the platform-as-a-service offering. Those customers include Amsterdam Airport Schipol and Miles & More GmbH, which runs a large frequent flyer program in Europe. So adoption is going well, Cormier said. What Red Hat wanted to do at the conference is to give developers to the tools more easily use OpenShift as they create and manage both legacy and cloud-native applications. The new offerings are “really going to speed up adoption of containers in the enterprise,” he said.
Chief among the new offerings is OpenShift.io, an online development environment with features designed for building applications optimized for containers and the cloud. Harry Mower, senior director of developer programs at Red Hat, said OpenShift.io is complementary to the company’s desktop-based version and addresses the challenges developers face in integrating applications into the platform, working with Linux containers and having confidence in the technology stacks they decide to use.
OpenShift.io, which is free and currently in limited developer preview – users can sign up at https://openshift.io – includes a range of planning and collaboration tools aimed at making it easy for developers at disparate locations to work together on projects. In addition, code that is developed is automatically built into Linux containers and, once deployed, can be tracked via a dashboard. The technology also uses artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques for analyzing the software stack to enable developers to more quickly detect vulnerabilities and other issues. Red Hat engineers used insights that they have gained through years of open source development to inform the AI and ML technologies.
New pre-built, containerized runtimes for OpenShift are designed to further accelerate the development and delivery of cloud-ready microservices by enabling programmers to skip many of the steps related to pre-coding, Mower said. Instead, they have access to such runtimes at Spring Boot, Node.js, Vert.x, WildFly Swarm, Eclipse MicroProfile, and Java EE as ready-to-use containerized tools. OenShift Application Runtimes, which is currently available in tech preview, is part of a larger push by Red Hat over the past several years to containerize as many of its services as possible, according to Matt Hicks, vice president of engineer at Red Hat. The company has more than 20 services available in its recently-launched Red Hat Container Catalog, Hicks said.
Red Hat will use its new Container Health Index to grade the security of containers from itself and its ISV partners. While the foundation of these containers is Linux, Red Hat needs to ensure that the containers don’t contain known vulnerabilities, he said. Container images are given a grade A through F based on such variables as the age of the image and the security technologies applied to the container components. The age of a container is a key factor, given how frequently new threats emerge. The index not only evaluates and rates the security of a container, but also details the potential impact of a particular image and points users to images that address the security issues.
Red Hat furthermore is expanding its long partnership with Amazon Web Services to help customers more easily operate in hybrid cloud environments. The two companies began working together in 2008, when AWS brought Red Hat Enterprise Linux to Amazon EC2. Two years later, AWS became Red Hat’s first Red Hat Cloud Access partner, and the OpenShift Dedicated – a private cloud-based OpenShift cluster – launched on AWS in 2015. Mike Ferris, vice president of technical business development and business architecture, said that 19,000 customers use RHEL and other products on AWS.
Now Red Hat is enabling OpenShift hybrid cloud users to access AWS services – including RedShift, CloudFront and Aurora – through OpenShift, both on-premises and in the cloud. At the same time, Red Hat and AWS officials said they will offer a single path for support to customers running Red Hat products on AWS and will more closely align development and release dates of new and updated products for Red Hat customers running RHEL-based workloads on the Amazon cloud. The two companies also will work together to bolster integration of Kubernetes on AWS.
Red Hat and AWS are demonstrating the tightened integrations at the Red Hat Summit, though general availability isn’t scheduled until the fall.
Cormier said Red Hat also is working with Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform to make it easier for Red Hat users to work in those environments, and hinted that similar announcements with those two cloud providers could come down the road. Amazon is the dominant player in the cloud computing space, with a market share that is larger than Microsoft and Google’s combined. That said, Ferris also said that Red Hat has a good working relationship with IBM BlueMix, though he wouldn’t make a similar statement about Oracle and its cloud efforts when asked during a press conference.
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