It’s OpenStack Summit week and, unsurprisingly, Red Hat has some interesting announcements.

Red Hat is, perhaps, one of the most successful companies in the open source world and it has invested a lot of time and attention into the OpenStack project. As I have covered numerous times before, however, OpenStack hasn’t been the commercial success that many people would have envisaged that it be – too many competing commercial imperatives, a lack of focus on one proposition and some headwinds caused by a various ecosystem tensions have meant that, while many organizations are making good use of OpenStack infrastructure, few are making money from selling the platform.

For all these reasons, this week’s event was always going to be interesting and the day before kick off we have Red Hat announcing version 12 of its OpenStack platform. Version 12 is based on the “Pike” release of OpenStack and has a slew of updates including containerized services, continuous integration, and security aspects.

While OpenStack hasn’t been a massive commercial success for the various vendors involved, that’s not to say that there aren’t some proof points. For its part, Red Hat points to customers including BBVA; Cambridge University; FICO; Massachusetts Open Cloud; Turkcell; IAG; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Paddy Power Betfair; Produban; UKCloud; and Verizon who have chosen Red Hat to be their OpenStack service provider of choice.

So to the announcements.

Containerization of OpenStack services

Containers are the theme of the day and they pose an existential threat to platforms such as OpenStack which are built upon a virtualization construct. To this end, Red Hat is moving fast to include containerization within their OpenStack story. New to Red Hat OpenStack Platform 12 is the containerization of OpenStack services which enables customers to run OpenStack services on  Linux containers. Red Hat OpenStack Platform 12 containerizes the majority of OpenStack services while offering a containerized Technology Preview of certain networking and storage services.

Enhanced security

As OpenStack sees increasing enterprise adoption, security becomes of heightened concern so it is no surprise to see Red Hat moving in this direction also. Red Hat’s automated infrastructure enrollment service automates lifecycle management for security certificates. Others components such as OpenStack Block Storage (Cinder) and Bare Metal Provisioning (Ironic) have updates around volume encryption support and disk partitioning enhancements, respectively. Finally, Red Hat OpenStack Platform customers will have access to the new Red Hat security guide, available in the Red Hat customer portal, outlining security features, implementation, and guidance for meeting baseline security controls to help enable a more secure OpenStack deployment.

Composable networks

An update to composable roles that were first introduced in version 10 of Red Hat’s offering. Now operators can create customized profiles for individual services and processes to suit their needs. Whereas in previous versions, users were forced to pick and choose pre-defined network topology, with new composable networks, users have the option to define the network topology they need with fewer constraints. Additionally, operators can create any number of networks they want, including the popular L3 spine and leaf topology, and are no longer limited in quantity of networks.

Distributed Continuous Integration

Five releases ago, Red Hat introduced Distributed Continuous Integration (DCI), a way for customers and partners to interact with OpenStack. DCI automates the deployment, testing, and feedback loop for pre and post product releases. This allows for the testing of real-world use cases. Today, DCI automatically delivers actionable logs to Red Hat’s quality engineering teams, reducing the amount of time it takes to identify, patch, and introduce fixes back into the upstream community.

MyPOV

While Red Hat is spinning this as a big leap, many of these changes seem incremental at best. While it isn’t necessarily a fact that massive releases are needed for a product every cycle, in a world where Containers and serverless approaches have stolen some of virtualization’s thunder, I would have expected more from Red Hat around this. That said, it is pleasing to see a large number of customer wins that the company is going to be talking about at the show – and perhaps that, rather than big product news – is what the OpenStack initiative really needs.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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