Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Financial Firms Ask Red Hat To Bring .NET To OpenShift Cloud 

Red Hat is going to be bringing application runtime and database servers of Windows platforms to its OpenShift platform cloud, and some big financial services companies are, as it turns out, driving this capability.

Joe Fernandes, OpenShift product manager at Red Hat, tells EnterpriseTech that a large financial services company in the Asia/Pacific region – which he cannot name – had evaluated the OpenShift Enterprise on-premise platform cloud edition for creating and deploying its Java applications. The company has hundreds of applications written in Java, and as it turns out, has a similar amount running atop Windows Server and using the .NET runtime with various Microsoft languages.

"Those are the dominant languages that you see in any enterprise environment," explains Fernandes. "This financial services company was also doing some work in Ruby, Python, and other languages that we support, and they saw what OpenShift could do in terms of accelerating deployments and that it was beyond what they could get from an infrastructure cloud, and then the logical thing was to ask us to extend this to the .NET side of the house."

To that end, Red Hat has partnered with Uhuru Software, which has a bit of experience with brining .NET environments into open souce (and largely Linux-based) platform cloud frameworks. Back at the end of 2011, Uhuru worked with the Cloud Foundry community to bring a set of .NET services to that platform cloud. This code behind this .NET integration was opened up under an Apache 2 license and contributed to the Cloud Foundry community. It provided support for VisualStudio development tools and exposed the .NET runtime and SQL Server databases as services on Cloud Foundry.

With the openShift integration, the capabilities are similar. Chris Morgan, who is in charge of partner and business development for OpenShift at Red Hat, says that OpenShift has been tweaked with code provided by Uhuru so it can wrap around a Windows server node and treat it like a machine running Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

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At the moment, just .NET runtimes and SQL Server databases can be exposed as services in what are called cartridges in the OpenShift metaphor. "One of the core tenants we have with OpenShift is the ability to be multitenant within the operating system itself, using the concept of gears," explains Morgan. "With Windows, we are able to get multitenancy by isolating IIS hostable web cores to provide gear functionality. We are starting with .NET and SQL Server, and as we get more customer and community demand, we envision that list growing – within the limits of the operating system, of course, since Windows doesn't have true multitenancy are kind of at the mercy of the operating system for what we can do at the application layer."

The Uhuru code is used to isolate those Windows IIS instances and Apache ActiveMQ, an open source message queuing tool, handles the communication between the OpenShift broker and the Windows server node. The communication client for Windows nodes is written in Ruby.

Support for.NET and SQL Server inside of OpenShift is not yet ready for prime time, warns Fernandes. A half dozen financial services companies in North America and Europe are among the early adopters who are testing out the Windows integration with OpenShift, says Fernandes. There are a handful of system integrators, who have large enterprise clients they do big cloud projects for, who are also participating in the development and early deployment efforts. Red Hat is not naming names in either case, but with Accenture having adopted OpenShift for a number of workloads and also having given a big keynote address at the Red Hat Summit last year, it stands to reason that Accenture is involved.

The Windows integration with OpenShift is in limited technical preview now, and the goal is to get it production-grade by the end of this year. But Red Hat is not making any promises on that front because a lot will depend on the feedback from early adopters. 

OpenShift comes in three flavors. The OpenShift Origin version is the open source and development version that Red Hat released into the wild. OpenShift Online is the version that Red Hat hosts on Amazon Web Services and is also the version it offered first to get developers used to the new cartridge and gear metaphor for a multitenant platform cloud. The OpenShift Enterprise edition is for on-premises deployment and has been available since November 2012. OpenShift supports Java, Ruby, PHP, Node.js (JavaScript), Perl, Python, and other languages as well as MySQL, MongoDB, and Postgres as database services.  OpenShift competes with Cloud Foundry, Google App Engine, Heroku, Windows Azure, and a number of other platform clouds, and Amazon Web Services to a certain extent.

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