May 27, 2018

IBM is extending its longtime alliance with Red Hat to include instances of IBM middleware such as DB2 databases and WebSphere application servers deployed using Docker containers that now can run on top of the OpenShift platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment. That instance of Red Hat OpenShift then would be deployed on IBM Cloud Private, an instance of a private cloud running on the IBM Cloud service.

Middleware from IBM has already been encapsulated in Docker containers. IBM and Red Hat are now signaling they will support instances of IBM middleware running in containers on a PaaS platform based on Kubernetes developed by Red Hat. Organizations with eligible Red Hat subscriptions can use their current Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform subscriptions on the IBM Cloud via the Red Hat Cloud Access solution. The two companies also will be providing joint consulting and implementation services via IBM Garage and Red Hat Innovation Labs.

Michael Elder, IBM Distinguished Engineer for IBM Private Cloud Platform, says IBM is adding support for another distribution of Kubernetes from Red Hat to its cloud. IBM already supports its own distribution of Kubernetes on its cloud service.

He notes that containerized applications are now the driving force behind digital business transformation within many organizations. IBM claims 90 percent of—or more than 30 billion in—mission-critical transactions worth more than $1 trillion  daily run on IBM software. Most of those organizations are still in the early stages of both adopting DevOps processes and moving workloads to the cloud. Containers and Kubernetes will prove critical in not only enabling those transitions to occur, but also enabling organizations to embrace true hybrid cloud computing versus simply deploying workloads on multiple isolated clouds, Elder says.

That shift, he says, represents the emergence of a third wave of cloud computing. The first two waves focused reducing the cost of IT infrastructure and then making that infrastructure programmable. The next wave, enabled by containers, addresses the need to deliver applications faster to meet digital business transformation objectives.

Many of the workloads, Elder says, most likely will run on top of virtual and physical machines. Today, virtual machines are the dominant enterprise IT platform. But as IT departments become more comfortable with Kubernetes, over the next three years many of them will opt to replace virtual machines with Kubernetes clusters running on bare-metal servers, he notes.

However, Elder says, the biggest issue with making that shift is not so much the underlying technology as much as it is enterprise IT cultures that continue to manage applications and IT infrastructure in isolation.

IBM clearly views containers and the rise of Kubernetes as the de facto container orchestration standard as an opportunity to gain ground on cloud service rivals such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google. While all of those cloud service providers already may have embraced containers and Kubernetes, IBM’s ace in the hole is its portfolio of middleware that today enterprise IT organizations still count on to run their most mission-critical applications.

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.