UPDATED 16:00 EDT / MAY 04 2020


Latest enhancements for the open hybrid cloud help fill Red Hat’s wish list

Coming into its Summit Virtual Experience at the end of April, Red Hat Inc. clearly had a checklist of items it wanted to accomplish.

Take virtual machines and bring them into containers? Check. Announce a new version of OpenShift with software to help developers manage application workloads? Check. Create a single control point for cluster management? Check. Make the three major cloud providers and VMware Inc. squirm a little over parent company IBM Corp.’s focus on the evolving hybrid cloud landscape? Double check.

Red Hat’s dialogue over its two-day virtual event at the end of April was designed to deliver a message: It fully intends to leverage the power of open source and find new ways to play in everyone else’s proprietary sandbox.

“I think there’s a bit of a transformation going on with the way that Red Hat approaches things,” said Ashesh Badani (pictured), senior vice president of cloud platforms at Red Hat. “Customers have known Red Hat in the past for giving them an operating system that’s commoditizing what the proprietary providers offer. The work that we’re doing is around how we can help customers fundamentally transform how they build and deploy applications both in a new cloud-native way and in existing ones.”

Badani spoke with Stu Miniman, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the Red Hat Summit Virtual Experience. They discussed OpenShift’s move toward automation, joint development work with IBM on cluster management, developer interest in Java applications, future enhancements for serverless solutions and Red Hat’s evolving role in the enterprise computing world. (* Disclosure below.)

This week, theCUBE features Ashesh Badani as its Guest of the Week.

Easier-to-deploy Kubernetes

Developers love coding, problem-solving, coffee, and jokes that only developers get. But what they value most is speed.

As one of Kubernetes’ own creators has openly admitted, the container orchestration technology can be complex and difficult to use, which slows down the process for developers. Red Hat’s recent announcements were designed to address that issue.

OpenShift 4.4 leverages Kubernetes Operators, a framework that allows developers to build in automated operations instead of having to manually craft solutions. This ultimately makes Kubernetes workloads easier to deploy and maintain.

“There’s this notion of over-the-air updates to create a platform that is almost autonomous in nature,” Badani said. “It acts more like your mobile phone in the way you can manage and upgrade it. It’s a key value proposition that we’re providing to our customers.”

Viewing cluster health

Another key value proposition announced during the latest Summit was Advanced Cluster Management. This particular enhancement demonstrated what the combined forces of Red Hat and IBM might bring in the future.

ACM equips OpenShift with cluster management capabilities across multicloud and hybrid cloud environments, a cornerstone of IBM’s strategic direction since the acquisition of Red Hat. In an interesting move that raised a few eyebrows in the open-source community, ACM will include proprietary code from an IBM tool.

Red Hat executives have indicated that the new tool will be open-sourced once ACM becomes generally available in 2021.

“IBM had been working on it well before their team joined us ,and now we’re making it much more widely available,” Badani explained. “We’re trying to solve and address questions around what it means to manage the lifecycle of an application across different clusters, how to monitor and view cluster health regardless of where they run.”

Focus on Java applications

Red Hat has continued to demonstrate its commitment to developing open-source projects. One example of this is Quarkus.

Java remains one of the world’s most popular programming languages, and Red Hat is interested in Quarkus as a way to streamline Java applications and make them easier to deploy in the cloud-native world.

Quarkus tailors applications for a universal virtual machine like GraalVM, running applications written in JavaScript.  Developers can take advantage of faster boot times and near-instant scale up in container orchestration platforms like Kubernetes.

“If we were to think about Java and be able to run that in a cloud-native way and be able to run that natively within a container and be orchestrated by Kubernetes, what would that look like?” Badani asked. “Let’s take advantage of all the investments that companies have made and make that available in a Kubernetes and cloud-native world. That’s what the Quarkus project is about.”

Role for serverless

As Red Hat has pursued its strategy in the open hybrid cloud, it was inevitable that its initiatives would cross paths with its Red Hat Enterprise Linux partners, which include key players such as Microsoft Corp., Google LLC and Amazon Web Services Inc.  An example of this can be seen in the serverless space.

Red Hat’s OpenShift Serverless solution is based on the Knative project, a Kubernetes-based platform designed to manage serverless workloads. Serverless is gaining in popularity, as confirmed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s most recent survey. Half of respondents are now using the technology.

The problem for Red Hat, and IBM, is that serverless is shaping up to be a highly competitive space with all of the major public cloud players offering architectures, along with many others. At least publicly, Red Hat does not appear concerned.

“You can imagine Azure functions running on our serverless platforms, as well as functions provided by any third party, including those built by Red Hat itself,” Badani said. “Ultimately, we’re building the platform to be operational, to be managed at scale, to create greater productivity for developers.”

What does get a rise out of Red Hat is VMware. In fall 2018, VMware Chief Technology Officer, Sanjay Poonen, was quoted in an interview with theCUBE as stating that his company “has its rightful place, a birthright, to become the de facto enterprise container platform.”

Following VMware’s rollout of its Tanzu Kubernetes management portfolio, Poonen was quoted in March as saying that he believed “our product will safely put us ahead of Red Hat and others in terms of our full potential.”

By the time Red Hat’s Summit rolled around in April, Red Hat executives had clearly heard enough. In a media briefing on Tuesday, Badani responded to a question about VMware by saying: “Both companies agree that Kubernetes is the future. One company has been collaborating in open-source communities for 20 years, while the other is still trying to figure that out, yet considers it their ‘birthright’ to win.”

By extending its portfolio to include a significant presence in Kubernetes, Red Hat has added another layer to the complex competitive landscape of enterprise computing. How the major cloud providers and important contributors such as VMware respond will be a story worth watching in 2020.

Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the Red Hat Summit Virtual Experience. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the Red Hat Summit Virtual Experience. Neither Red Hat, the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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