OpenShift 4: Red Hat's on ramp for the hybrid cloud

Red Hat's Kubernetes platform, OpenShift, is how Red Hat plans to build hybrid clouds.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Traditionally, a hybrid cloud runs simultaneously on a public and private cloud. Historically, that's been done with three models: Hybrid-cloud management software such as HPE Helion; vendor-native hybrid cloud platforms, such as Microsoft with Azure and Azure Stack; and Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS) clouds, including Cloud Foundry, which can bridge over Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) clouds. Or, you can do what Red Hat announced at Red Hat Summit: Use Kubernetes container orchestration with Red Hat OpenShift 4.

In this next generation of Red Hat's Kubernetes platform, Red Hat explicitly stated OpenShift 4 is designed to deliver a cloud-like experience across the hybrid cloud by driving automated updates across Kubernetes deployments everywhere. Or, as Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst summed it up: "Make open hybrid cloud the default architecture."

In more detail, Ashesh Badani, Red Hat senior vice president of Cloud Platforms, said: "Enterprise IT's future is driven by hybrid and multicloud computing, with Kubernetes acting as a bridge to seamlessly connect workloads between on-premise datacenters and public cloud footprints. Red Hat OpenShift 4 makes this vision of Kubernetes a reality, offering a consistent, self-managing enterprise Kubernetes platform that spans the hybrid cloud."

How? Red Hat explained:

  • Self-managing platform for hybrid cloud to provide a cloud-like experience via automatic software updates and lifecycle management across the hybrid cloud, powered by the trusted foundation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and RHEL CoreOS. This enables greater security, auditability, repeatability, ease of management, and user experience.
  • Adaptability and heterogeneous support, available in coming months across major public cloud vendors including Alibaba, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, private cloud technologies like OpenStack, virtualization platforms, and bare-metal servers.
  • Streamlined full stack installation with an automated process makes it easier to get started with enterprise Kubernetes quickly.
  • Simplified application deployments and lifecycle management with Kubernetes Operators. Red Hat pioneered stateful and complex applications on Kubernetes with Operators that automate application maintenance, scaling, and failover. Now OpenShift 4 provides Red Hat OpenShift Certified Operators. Working in conjunction with the broader partner ecosystem, OpenShift 4 includes a broad set of applications to run as-a-service across the hybrid cloud.

You may have noticed the mention of RHEL CoreOS. This is the next step from Red Hat's acquisition of CoreOS. The new CoreOS is an OpenShift-specific embedded variant of RHEL. Specifically, it provides Kubernetes running on top of the lightweight, fully immutable, container-optimized Linux distribution. In this variant, security features and stability are still paramount, with automated updates managed by Kubernetes and enabled by OpenShift with the push of a button.

The mission of OpenShift 4, according to Clayton Coleman, a Red Hat Kubernetes architect, is to make "platform designed for realizing these two goals – instead of forcing you to deal with VMs or load balancers APIs, we focus on higher level abstractions like deployments and services. Instead of installing software agents you run containers, and instead of writing your own monitoring stack, you leverage ambient monitoring from the platform."

To help with this mission, Red Hat OpenShift 4 comes with the following new features:

  • Self-service, automation, and application services to help developers extend their application by on-demand provisioning of application services and providing build and deploy automation for containerized applications backed by Operators.
  • Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces enables developers to leverage containers and Kubernetes, while working with familiar integrated development environment (IDE) tools. Red Hat claims CodeReady Workspaces are more consistent, collaborative, and protected than when running containers or virtual machines (VMs) on a laptop. This includes the tools and dependencies needed to code, build, test, run, and debug containerized applications in a web-based IDE.
  • OpenShift Service Mesh, which combines Istio, Jaeger, and Kiali projects as a single capability that encodes communication logic for microservices-based application architectures.
  • Operator-enabled application environments on OpenShift with Red Hat Middleware. This enables IT organizations to unify their development environments around Operator capabilities. This lets programmers focus on delivering and applications without worrying about updating or maintaining of tooling.

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If you feel like pushing the envelope, OpenShift 4 also comes with several beta features. 

These are:

  • Knative for building serverless applications. This uses Kubernetes as a  platform for building, deploying, and managing serverless or function-as-a-service (FaaS) workloads.
  • Kubernetes-based event-driven autoscaling (KEDA), a collaboration between Microsoft and Red Hat. It supports deployment of serverless event-driven containers on Kubernetes, enabling Azure Functions in OpenShift, in Developer Preview.
  • Operator-enabled Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage 4 offers highly scalable persistent storage for cloud-native applications that require encryption, replication, and availability across the hybrid cloud. Application teams can dynamically provision persistent volumes for a wide variety of workload categories including SQL/NoSQL databases, CI/CD pipelines and AI/ML

Al Gillen, IDC's group vice president of software development and open source, added: 

"Red Hat has long led by example within the open-source community, contributing to both nascent and maturing projects. After Kubernetes emerged, Red Hat shifted gears and carved out an early leadership position with container support on Kubernetes as part of OpenShift. The launch of Red Hat OpenShift 4 brings forward a multicloud solution also available as a managed cloud service. This product offers the portability customers are asking for in a package that brings substantive improvements in automating deployment and simplifying operation, which ultimately makes innovation easier."

Red Hat OpenShift 4 will roll out the door in June. If you like the idea of a Kubernetes-based hybrid cloud, you should check it out.

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