Red Hat OpenShift is a complete end-to-end solution to deploy enterprise, next-generation, containerized applications on-premises and in the cloud. OpenShift has a central role in the Red Hat hybrid cloud strategy — it is available as a managed service on the most important cloud platforms (such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS and Google Cloud Platform) and can be managed directly by the user in other situations. This flexibility provides a unique opportunity for the enterprise to build a consistent and predictable hybrid cloud abstraction layer on which applications can be moved quickly and efficiently depending on business needs.
Red Hat provides all the tools and professional services to support enterprises in their hybrid cloud journey, enabling them to centralize the management of multiple OpenShift and Kubernetes third-party instances across disparate infrastructures. And all while simplifying deployment of standard third-party applications, thanks also to the OpenShift marketplace. Integration with existing virtualization technologies is another interesting component of the RedHat OpenShift ecosystem. It supports enterprises primarily focused on containers and Kubernetes for future application development, now integrating with legacy virtualized components without needing to refactor existing code.
Enterprises are quickly moving from an initial evaluation and exploration phase to extensive adoption of containers and microservices for all new applications under development. Red Hat is now uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between a rock-solid, open-source foundation already adopted by many enterprises across the world and the innovation introduced by containers and Kubernetes. All of this while mitigating the risk associated with the immaturity of the nascent Kubernetes platform.
2. Strategic and Business Considerations
One of the major obstacles to the realization of hybrid IT strategies is the fact that most cloud providers work with different APIs, services, and models. More important, even when based on the same technology, most of the services available in the public cloud are difficult to replicate on-premises or at the edge. This limits the opportunity to port applications seamlessly across different environments, especially when data is involved.
The more the developer works with the services available from a single cloud provider, the harder it becomes to migrate applications and data to other locations. In this regard, Kubernetes is the first step in the right direction, allowing IT to deploy applications in a familiar environment promising high portability. To make this happen though, there are a couple of important aspects to evaluate:
- Kubernetes: Despite its success, Kubernetes is immature. Many of its core components are evolving quickly and several interfaces, such as Container Storage Interface (CSI) and Container Network Interface (CNI), are still limited both in terms of functionality and feature consistency. There are risks associated with security as well.
- Kubernetes ecosystem: This platform immaturity has forced cloud service providers and other market players to implement interfaces and customizations that simplify and standardize deployment and management of Kubernetes. The result: a large number of competing solutions that are not fully compatible with each other. These solutions present different user interfaces, user-exposed APIs, and custom resources to deal with specific functionality provided by specific providers.
In this regard, Red Hat OpenShift has a strong focus on multi-tenancy and security, while offering an integrated stack that includes storage and networking components as well. This puts the user in the best position to implement a hybrid strategy, simplifying deployments and providing a consistent developer and user experience across on-premises and heterogeneous public clouds.
Figure 1: Red Hat OpenShift Deployment Options
In the end, the user that wants to build a strategy around microservices and Kubernetes needs to deal with this complexity if the application is to be deployed globally. On the other hand, Red Hat offers the ability to mitigate the risk and complexity introduced by Kubernetes ecosystem immaturity. The solution offers an end-to-end approach with additional tools that enable management of multiple clusters in a federated fashion from a single user interface.
3. Technical Considerations
Looking at production installations in the field, the two most common ways to deploy Kubernetes are:
- A Kubernetes cluster is deployed for everyone, or few, applications. This may seem counterintuitive at first glance, but in conservative environments, this is the most secure way to minimize risk associated with failure domains, security, and new processes employed to operate this type of infrastructure and application stacks.
- In this case, the user deploys as many applications as possible in a single Kubernetes cluster to optimize resource consumption and operations. While maintaining a large Kubernetes cluster requires significant skill, it is also very cost-effective and more efficient for resource consumption.
It is important to note that Kubernetes is a fairly new technology and evolving quickly. There are a few important considerations to keep in mind before laying out a Kubernetes strategy:
- Limited availability of workers skilled with Kubernetes can create opportunity and cost challenges for enterprises exploring the technology
- Enterprises can’t always afford to keep up to date with the latest evolutions of the orchestrator platform
- Some legacy applications can’t be decommissioned for a long time, and they need long term support for the entire stack
In this regard, Red Hat OpenShift is one of the safest choices in the market for enabling enterprises to develop a strategy around next-generation, cloud-native applications while reducing overall stack complexity and taking advantage of Red Hat’s well-known, long-term support strategy. This last point is particularly important for security, ensuring that enterprises gain access to security patches as soon as a risk is exposed.
Red Hat OpenShift is different from other options in the market because it is not only Kubernetes, but also a complete platform that includes Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), a container runtime, a registry, developer tools, monitoring, and authentication solutions in a single package. All these components are already integrated, contributing to simplified deployment and management. And thanks to new tools for multi-cluster management, Red Hat gives options to its customers to choose the deployment strategy they are most comfortable with.
4. Next Steps
Enterprises are looking for solutions that enable them to implement a hybrid cloud strategy while exploring multi-cloud for added flexibility. Open source technology is at the base of most clouds, and containers promise seamless application portability.
Red Hat, of course, is recognized as the company that brought open source to the enterprise, building products and services that combine the innovation and openness of open source solutions with the proven stability of mission-critical software. That success has changed the way enterprises view open source software, and Red Hat is seen differently by its customers as a result.
Once an industry pioneer, Red Hat is now a trusted solution partner. And today, it’s solutions allow enterprises to implement comprehensive, global hybrid cloud strategies without risk of lock-in or confronting the complexity that comes with siloed infrastructure and application stacks.
5. About Enrico SignorettiEnrico Signoretti
Enrico has 25+ years of industry experience in technical product strategy and management roles. He has advised mid-market and large enterprises across numerous industries and software companies ranging from small ISVs to large providers.
Enrico is an internationally renowned visionary author, blogger, and speaker on the topic of data storage. He has tracked the changes in the storage industry as a Gigaom Research Analyst, Independent Analyst and contributor to the Register.
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