Given the fact that many new application development projects in the enterprise make use of containers, providers of the platform those applications are built and deployed on are anxious to show their container mettle.
At the Red Hat Summit 2016 conference Red Hat went all out to make the case for using its OpenShift platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment to build and run Docker containers anywhere across the extended enterprise.
Specifically, Red Hat announced it is making available an instance of OpenShift that could be deployed on a notebook to provide developers with an application development environment that better replicates an instance of OpenShift running in a production environment. In addition, Red Hat is making available an OpenShift Labs environment designed to make it more cost-effective to develop Docker applications over an extended period of time.
On the IT operations side of the house, Red Hat announced it has created a way to provide Docker containers with access to persistent storage by deploying Red Hat Gluster Storage as a Docker container. Joe Fitzgerald, vice president of management for Red Hat, says that approach eliminates the need to create a separate cluster to create stateful applications using Docker.
Finally, Red Hat announced that Red Hat Insights, a predictive analytics tools optimized for IT operations, can now provide workflow analysis into Docker container environments.
The core Red Hat platform for running containers, formerly known as OpenShift Enterprise, has been rechristened Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform. Fitzgerald says the platform can be deployed on a public cloud, a private cloud, on top of a virtual machine or on a bare-metal server to provide IT organizations with a consistent IT environment regardless of where Docker containers are deployed. Core to that environment is an instance of the open source Kubernetes container management platform that Red Hat has standardized on. The overall OpenShift environment itself is then managed using Red Hat CloudForms management software and the Red Hat Ansible IT automation framework.
For all intents and purposes, Red Hat has combined all the attributes of PaaS with a container-as-a-service (CaaS) platform, thereby eliminating the need to deploy a separate framework just to support Docker applications. In fact, Fitzgerald says that OpenShift’s capabilities now extend well beyond the original definition of a PaaS. In addition, Red Hat makes it possible to deploy its open source JBoss application server as a container running on top of OpenShift. The end result is a much more integrated approach to deploying legacy and cloud-native applications on the same platform, Fitzgerald notes.
While Red Hat has embraced Docker containers, just about everything it is doing above and around the container differs from the platform approach being pursued by Docker Inc. Fitzgerald contends that in the fullness of time, a need to deploy Docker applications within the context of a larger enterprise environment combined with industry support for Kubernetes will tip the balance in favor of Red Hat.
It’s too early to say how the container platform wars will play out. But it’s clear that a contest for control over the future of cloud native applications built using containers is now well underway.