May 27, 2018

Red Hat and Microsoft, at the Red Hat Summit 2018 conference this week, announced their intention to deliver an instance of the OpenShift platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment on the Microsoft Azure cloud that will be jointly managed both companies.

The extension of an existing alliance between Red Hat and Microsoft will result in Microsoft hosting another distribution of Kubernetes on its cloud alongside the container services it currently offers. Red Hat, meanwhile, is in the process of revamping the distribution of Kubernetes that underpins OpenShift by incorporating elements of the Kubernetes distribution curated by CoreOS. Red Hat acquired CoreOS earlier this year.

The two companies will make OpenShift available on both Linux and Windows servers, enabling IT organizations to centrally manage instances of OpenShift running on both platforms. But it’s still not possible to port containerized applications from Windows to Linux platforms.

Mike Ferris, vice president for business technical business development and business architecture for Red Hat, says the company expects there will be a 50-50 split between organizations that will prefer to consume OpenShift as a managed service versus managing the PaaS environment themselves. The primary reason organizations will rely on a managed service is that it allows them to devote more of their own limited resources to developing applications, says Ferris, adding that, as yet, Red Hat has no other plans to stand up any other managed OpenShift service.

Red Hat OpenShift on Azure will be made available as a technology preview later this year.

Brendan Burns, a distinguished engineer at Microsoft, says Red Hat OpenShift will be tightly integrated with Azure database, storage and networking and services, including Active Directory, all the compliance and security tools and the artificial intelligence (AI) models that Microsoft makes available on Azure. The same tools Microsoft provides to stand up clusters will be applied to Red Hat OpenShift on Azure.

Microsoft also announced that Red Hat OpenShift Container, a distribution of Kubernetes, is now available on Microsoft Azure Stack, an on-premises edition of the Microsoft Azure stack. Burns says that support is an extension of Microsoft’s commitment to hybrid cloud computing.

Microsoft also will, for the first time, allow Visual Studio Enterprise and Visual Studio Professional subscribers to apply credits to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

Adoption of PaaS environments has been uneven at best. Burns says the infusion of Kubernetes into a PaaS should lead to much broader adoption of PaaS environments. Kubernetes application programming interfaces (APIs) will make PaaS environments much more accessible to developers. PaaS environments based on Kubernetes will be easier to deploy and manage in on-premises environments as well.

It remains to be seen the degree to which IT organizations will now embrace PaaS environments. Many organizations have been wary of adopting PaaS environments that in terms of workflows are highly opinionated. At the same time, pressure to build and update application faster is driving more organizations toward platforms that provide a level of abstraction that eliminates much of the need to manage underlying IT infrastructure.

Regardless of the approach taken, however, reliance on integrated DevOps processes to accelerate application development is now becoming a requirement for every enterprise IT organization.

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.