Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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Red Hat Adds Tools for ‘Open Hybrid Cloud’ 

The rise of the Linux kernel nearly three decades ago and the open source operating system it begat has fundamentally changed the way enterprises operate, virtualizing IT infrastructure, ushering in the cloud era and, today, moving computing resources to the network edge, where data resides.

As dominant—and proprietary—public cloud vendor Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ: AMZN) consolidates its position in the midst of a pandemic, its competitors are increasingly relying on open source tools to fuel multi-cloud strategies that will give them at least a piece of the booming cloud market.

Others, like IBM (NYSE: IBM) and its high-flying Red Hat subsidiary are taking a more egalitarian tact, dubbing their Linux-based approach the “open, hybrid cloud.” That was theme of this week’s virtual Red Hat summit event.

Noting that the “Linux innovation cycle” has so far delivered virtual infrastructure, application containers, Kubernetes cluster orchestration and, lately, edge computing, Red Hat said 31 percent of its growing roster of customers are deploying hybrid clouds. Hence, the IBM unit sees another opportunity to leverage those Linux-based tools to “bridge traditional datacenter technologies to the hybrid cloud world,” according to Red Hat CEO Paul Cormier.

Red Hat and its competitors primarily seek to move cloud computing and storage to the network edge, where all the big data resides.

“We’re trying to thread the needle to make sure that the [technology] announcements we make are meeting customers where they are,” added Matt Hicks, Red Hat’s executive vice president for product and technologies. “We’re trying to balance, to be able to help customers that are focused on efficiency and staying on the course they are on as well as being able to target some of those customers and use cases that are demanding scale.”

Hence, IBM has made Red Hat’s OpenShift platform the centerpiece of its hybrid cloud strategy. The company said last week more than 2,200 customers are using IBM and Red Hat application container tools. Cormier said OpenShift use has jumped 70 percent in the last year to more than 1,700 customers.

Among the newest is Cloudera (NYSE: CLDR), which said Tuesday (April 28) it would adopt OpenShift as its “preferred container solution” running on its private cloud data platform. The combination “creates an enterprise data cloud with a powerful hybrid architecture that separates compute and storage for greater agility, ease of use and more efficient use of private and public cloud infrastructure,” said Arun Murthy, Cloudera’s chief product officer.

Meanwhile, Red Hat announced other container stack capabilities, including Kubernetes cluster orchestration aimed specifically at hybrid cloud management. As more clusters are deployed, Red Hat is targeting enterprise scaling with multi-cluster lifecycle management tools that spin up, update and delete Kubernetes clusters.

“Most of our customers…are deploying lots of clusters,” Hicks said, including development and testing along production workloads across multiple datacenters. The new tools are designed to manage clusters and the applications they deliver. The goal is to allow users to manage OpenShift and Kubernetes clusters at scale, Hicks said.

The IBM unit also released an OpenShift virtualization scheme for combining applications containers and virtual machines on a converged Kubernetes platform. That approach, Red Hat asserted, would help reduce virtualization licensing costs without adding infrastructure. It also would not raise the price tag for using OpenShift.

The knock on related open source server virtualization platform like OpenStack included installation complexity, requiring much configuring and customization. Those teething problems appear to have been surmounted as open source platforms begin to scale across multiple datacenters.

“Open source is not any one person or any one company’s birthright,” Cormier said. “You have to earn open source leadership every single day.”

IBM, which acquired Red Hat in 2018, along with other open source investors such as GitHub buyer Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), will have ample opportunity to back up Cormier’s assertion.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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