Back in history (and by history I mean less than a decade ago), the idea of Red Hat holding its user conference the same week as Microsoft is holding their developer event would have been seen as irrelevant. After all, back then Red Hat was an open source company, and the people who were keen to go to its event were very different from those who wanted to go hang out with the ‘softies.

But times have changed – Red Hat looks far less like the clichéd view of what an open source company is meant to look like and Microsoft, for its part, is not a bona fide open source company.

And so, the news coming out of the Red Hat summit has some real overlap with some of the news from Microsoft Build, a fact that points to the changes in the market generally, and these two vendors in particular. Linux containers and Kubernetes are front of mind for both Red Hat and Microsoft.

Anyway, for its part, Red Hat is making a concerted effort to tell a story that reconciles containers, more traditional virtualization technologies and the services approach towards application development. A new project being demoed today aims to reconcile containers and virtualization and brings container-native virtualization technology to Red Hat’s cloud suite.

Based on the open source KubeVirt community project, container-native virtualization enables developers to work with virtual machines in the same way that they would work with Linux container-based applications. This means that developers can create and add virtualized applications to their projects from the OpenShift Service Catalog as they would with containerized apps – the resulting application can then run side-by-side with cloud-native workloads on Red Hat OpenShift, the company’s platform as a service (PaaS) offering.

This is pretty interesting since the real-world reality is that enterprises are looking to remove the various silos that exist within their application portfolios – this new offering will reconcile the operational and development models between virtualization and containerization deployment mechanisms.

It’s an interesting approach and, while many purists will dismiss the idea of containers being somehow defiled by what they view as a legacy approach towards infrastructure (VMs), it’s probably an honest appraisal of the way most enterprises actually work.

In other news, Red Hat made some further announcements that speak to its ambition of delivering a consistent series of infrastructure offerings that provide for a hybrid approach towards deployment. Interesting for those who have watched the growth CoreOS, a company Red Hat recently acquired, this week marks the start of Red Hat integrating CoreOS products into its own solutions. It’s only a  few short months since Red Hat acquired the company, but apparently, it’s been working hard on integration.

OpenShift automated operations

Tectonic, CoreOS’ enterprise Kubernetes solution, offered a way to manage large Kubernetes footprints through automated “over-the-air” updates. With this feature, systems administrators and IT managers can roll-out upgrades to entire Tectonic clusters and underlying Container Linux hosts all via an automated process. Now, Red Hat will integrate this capability with Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, Red Hat’s Kubernetes distribution, as automated operations. All this pushes towards higher levels of automation within the context of a high-grade platform. The solutions will result in the majority of rote maintenance tasks being performed automatically.

The Operator Framework

CoreOS also established the concept of “operators” within Kubernetes, application-specific controllers that extend the Kubernetes API to create, configure, and manage instances of complex stateful applications on behalf of a Kubernetes user. Again his helps to reduce the burden of deploying and managing Kubernetes-based infrastructure.

Only recently announced, the Operator concept is now encapsulated by the Operator Framework open source project. Building on this initiative, Red Hat today announced that Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform will use this project and that Red Hat’s existing ISV certification program will also extend to encompass the automation capabilities provided by the Operator Framework.

Bringing Container Linux to Red Hat OpenShift

Container Linux provides several pieces of the container-native operating system, most notably a fully immutable, container-optimized Linux host that includes automated, “over-the-air” updates, to keep large deployments more easily up to date. Container Linux is an existing product with a community around it and Red Hat is obviously mindful of not pissing that community off. According to Red Hat, Container Linux will retain its vision of providing a free, fast-moving, and automated container host while (there has to be a benefit for Red Hat, after all) also providing content options from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora ecosystem, with a supported variant being provided under the name Red Hat CoreOS. Red Hat CoreOS will integrate concepts, technology, and the user experience of Container Linux. This offering will ultimately supersede Atomic Host and function as Red Hat’s immutable, container-centric operating system.

Red Hat CoreOS will provide the foundation for Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, Red Hat OpenShift Online, and Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated for customers who prefer an immutable infrastructure-based Kubernetes platform with automated updates. Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform will also continue to support Red Hat Enterprise Linux, for customers who prefer a traditional lifecycle and packaging as the foundation for their Kubernetes deployments.

Red Hat Quay and OpenShift

Possibly one of the reasons that the acquisition got over the line is the fact that, over the past few years, many Red Hat OpenShift customers have used CoreOS Quay as their enterprise registry solution. While OpenShift provides an integrated container registry, customers who require more comprehensive enterprise-grade registry capabilities now have the option to get Quay Enterprise and Quay.io from Red Hat. Quay includes automated geographic replication, integrated security scanning with Clair, image time machine for viewing history, performs rollbacks and automated pruning, and more. Quay is now added to the Red Hat portfolio, available both as an enterprise software solution and as a hosted service at Quay.io, and will see future enhancements and continued integration with OpenShift in future releases.

MyPOV

It was always going to be interesting to see how Red Hat reconciled the various components that CoreOS brings to the table with its own, sometimes competitive offerings. This is the open source world and hence it is very important not to be perceived as dropping a community that has its own momentum. It strikes me that Red Hat is doing a good job of reconciling the various tensions it faces and is doing the right thing by CoreOS. It will be interesting to see, over time, how much uptake the CoreOS components get.

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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