December 16, 2017

An update to the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform made available this week includes a technology preview of service broker and service catalog technology originally developed by the Cloud Foundry Foundation. Also included are previews support for playbooks based on the Ansible IT automation framework and a template broker that enables multiple container applications to be deployed simultaneously.

In addition, version 3.6 of Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform includes a technology preview for a network policy management tool that can be employed to restrict what applications talk to one another.

What’s more, the latest version adds support for secrets management, built-in support for Red Hat Gluster storage and a guide for implementing container applications that comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

Version 3.6 of Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform is built on top of version 1.6 of the Kubernetes container engine. Brian Gracely, director of product strategy for OpenShift at Red Hat, says Red Hat is running about a quarter behind the release of the latest version of Kubernetes. Version 1.7 of Kubernetes was released by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) last month.

Gracely says Red Hat is wrapping an array of complementary open-source technologies around Kubernetes that is intended to dissuade IT organizations from rolling out raw bits of Kubernetes code on their own. Given the relative early stages of Kubernetes adoption, Gracely notes that developers tend to download Kubernetes themselves to get a project up and running. But as the number of container applications proliferate, the practical aspects of supporting successive updates to raw Kubernetes code becomes a challenge. Red Hat, in contrast, provides a curated instance of Kubernetes that comes with all the tools required to manage the entire container deployment at a much higher level of abstraction, says Gracely.

That platform, he adds, can be deployed both on-premises and in a public cloud to create a hybrid cloud computing environment that enables IT organizations to shift workloads easily between a private cloud and public cloud computing service.

Red Hat has made it clear it views containers to be the new atomic unit of computing. Vying for control over those containers against Red Hat are rivals including Docker Inc., CoreOS, IBM and Pivotal. In the case of Docker and CoreOS, the rival offerings are based on container-as-a-service (CaaS) platforms built on Kubernetes. Pivotal and IBM have committed to the Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment to host containers. The Cloud Foundry PaaS, however, is not built on Kubernetes, and IBM has hedged its bet by offering a CaaS environment based on Kubernetes alongside its Bluemix service based on Cloud Foundry.

Microsoft, for its part, provides support for Kubernetes, Cloud Foundry, Docker Inc.’s CaaS platform and its own PaaS platform, in addition to having forged a broad reseller agreement with Red Hat. In contrast, Red Hat put Kubernetes at the core of its platform in an effort to obliterate any distinction between a PaaS and CaaS environment.

It remains to be seen how that strategy ultimately will play out, but most IT organizations prefer to manage as few platforms as possible to keep the total cost of ownership (TCO) from spiraling out of control. If history is any guide, interesting times are ahead.

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.