August 21, 2017

At a Red Hat Summit 2017 conference today Red Hat today launched a slew of initiatives that collectively serve to confirm that containers are the new atomic unit of application development and deployment.

New offerings include making the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and a series of Red Hat OpenShift Runtimes for a variety of application frameworks, including Spring Boot, WildFly Swarm, Eclipse MicroProfil, Eclipse Vert.x and Node.js.

In addition, Red Hat is making available a preview of an application development environments hosted in the cloud that is specifically designed to develop cloud-native applications based on microservices. Available for free and dubbed Red Hat OpenShift.io, it’s become apparent that using legacy application development tools to build modern applications based on microservices provides developers with a suboptimal experience, says Harry Mower, senior director of developer programs for Red Hat.

Based on several open-source projects including fabric8, Jenkins and Eclipse Che, Red Hat OpenShift.io is an online environment for application development teams that includes tools for agile planning, developer workspace management tools, coding and testing, runtime stack analysis and continuous integration. Longer term, Mower says Red Hat OpenShift.io will be the primary mechanism Red Hat will use to apply machine learning algorithms to the application development and deployment process.

Red Hat also moved today to ensure the quality of applications by launching a Red Hat Container Health Index, which grades all Red Hat container products as well as the Red Hat base layer of containers employed by certified independent software vendor (ISV) partners. As part of this initiative, Red Hat is also promising to certify containerized products from 20 ISVs within the next 90 days.

Finally, Red Hat announced it is now possible to use Red Hat Gluster Storage software in conjunction with stateful applications running on the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform that will soon also be available on AWS, and revealing it is moving to embed the Ansible IT automation framework it acquired back in 2015 inside a variety of Red Hat products starting with Red Hat Insights predictive analytics software and Red Hat CloudForms software for managing multiple clouds.

Those moves come on the heels of recent Red Hat announcement involving the deployment of Red Hat 3Scale API gateways as Docker containers and the addition of Java support to the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform.

Regardless of whether it involves new or legacy applications, Mower says containers are now being used to deploy every type of application. Red Hat is committed to delivering a “highly opinionated” PaaS environments that makes it possible to build and deploy multiple styles of applications using containers. In contrast, Mower says smaller container-as-a-service (CaaS) environments being touted by rival vendors such as Docker Inc. are too narrowly focused to appeal to enterprise IT organizations that need to support a broad variety of applications.

In general, Mower says, Red Hat is making a case of moving the entire DevOps process up a few notches of abstraction. Rather than trying to integrate various lower-level pipeline processes, Red Hat is attempting to provide a PaaS environment that abstracts away all the underlying complexity from the developer, says Mower. In case where organizations still prefer to craft their own DevOps processes from the ground up, Red Hat has published application programming interfaces (APIs) that make it possible to consume various modules that Red Hat has created a la carte. But from a practical perspective, Mower says, Red Hat is betting that most organizations would prefer to have a vendor automate as much of the DevOps process as possible on an end-to-end basis.

Of course, that DevOps argument as it pertains to PaaS environments has been made before. What’s different now in the age of microservices is that there finally be enough complexity in the IT environment to get organizations to view PaaS environments in a whole new light.

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.