Red Hat, as part of a broader alliance between IBM and SAP, is working to integrate its implementation of KubeVirt, an open source project that enables virtual machines to be encapsulated in containers, with Gardener, open source software for managing fleets of Kubernetes clusters originally developed by SAP.
SAP makes extensive use of Gardener to manage thousands of Kubernetes clusters running with cloud computing environments managed by SAP. IBM and Red Hat have been working with SAP to deploy applications on cloud platforms running on top of the Red Hat OpenShift platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment, which is based on an instance of Kubernetes.
Red Hat CTO Chris Wright says OpenShift is designed from the ground up to run on bare-metal infrastructure. IT teams can then either deploy containerized workloads or make use of KubeVirt to deploy legacy applications originally deployed on a virtual machine on the Red Hat OpenShift PaaS. The integration work with SAP now makes it possible to manage both classes of workloads via the Gardener console, he says.
It’s not clear how much traction Gardener has gained outside of SAP. At its core, Gardener makes use of “seed clusters” to host control planes. Based on extensions to Kubernetes, Gardener among other things adds an application programming interface (API) server, a controller-manager and a scheduler to create and manage the life cycle of Kubernetes clusters.
Most IT organizations have not operationalized Kubernetes at the level of scale of SAP, and it’s unclear whether Gardener requires the expertise of a software engineer to deploy and manage versus being a framework that might be accessible to an IT administrator working within a traditional enterprise IT environment.
Regardless of the management framework employed, Wright says KubeVirt will play a strategic role in Red Hat’s effort to unify the deployment of emerging microservices-based and legacy monolithic applications. Partners such as SAP have customers with many monolithic applications they are looking to modernize, he says, noting the bulk of those applications run on virtual machines. KubeVirt enables those applications to be shifted to Red Hat OpenShift, which then gives the IT organization an opportunity, if appropriate, to deconstruct those applications into a more granular set of microservices.
That work can begin on-premises or in the cloud as an organization sees fit, notes Wright. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are now opting to lift and shift entire legacy applications, including the virtual machines they run on, into the cloud before beginning to modernize them.
SAP, meanwhile, has already committed to making entire business processes available as microservices that organizations can combine to create a custom application set. With a little help from Red Hat, those microservices can be further integrated with monolithic applications running on virtual machines in a way that makes the most sense for an organization.