July 24, 2017

Red Hat is extending its campaign to become a dominant provider of platforms for hosting contain applications with an update to the Red Hat Container Platform that adds the latest version of the Kubernetes orchestration engine and offers deeper support for legacy applications written in Java.

Rather than viewing Red Hat Container Platform as simply a means to build and deploy simple stateless applications, Red Hat wants IT organizations to also employ Red Hat Container Platform for hosting stateful applications, says Brian Gracely, director of product strategy for Red Hat. Most of those existing stateful applications within enterprise IT organizations are written in Java, he notes.

To achieve that goal, Red Hat Container Platform 3.5 provides a Java container image alongside some Kubernetes StatefulSets, available in a preview mode, that make it simpler to automate the management of stateful services directly within Kubernetes. The primary mission, says Gracely, is to make it easier to move legacy applications on to a Docker platform, after which IT organizations can decompose various elements of that application into a set of microservices using whatever language they prefer.

Finally, Red Hat is adding support for certificate and secrets management tools it has developed, as well as the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) distribution commonly used by traditional IT organizations and a curated suite of development tools spanning multiple languages that Red Hat provides as Red Hat Software Collections.

Gracely says that IT organizations do not want to adopt a single platform just to run stateless applications. To be considered more than just another unwanted island of computing, IT organizations need a container platform capable of supporting both stateful and stateless applications.

Red Hat is moving quickly to protect ground in the enterprise that has been hard won. Over the years Red Hat has delivered a series of platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environments that have been deployed both on-premises and in the cloud. By moving aggressively to support containers and Kubernetes, the company is looking to minimize any threat an emerging container-as-a-service (CaaS) environment might represent.

Red Hat’s success ultimately will depend on how tensions within IT organizations over containers are resolved. IT operations teams have a vested interest in trying to minimize the number of platforms they need to support. Developers, in contrast, often opt to lean on what’s most readily available to run their applications using the simplest deployment methodology possible. Very often, that means employing a lightweight CaaS to get an application up and running, only to discover that the IT operations teams requires a PaaS to manage the entire environment at scale.

There’s no question that adoption of containers and microservices represent a fundamental challenge to the way many organizations have approached DevOps. Unfortunately, most of the DevOps processes that organizations have in place today are relatively immature. As developers embrace containers to start generating thousands of microservices, it’s now only a matter of time before many organizations reach a level of crisis in terms of implementing governance for building, deploying, managing and securing microservices. Arguably, one of the best ways to avert that crisis is to implement a platform that bakes those processes into the core offering versus trying to build them from the ground up.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.