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For enterprise IT pros that put a premium on open source, Red Hat may be an option worth considering, as the provider continues to build its cloud strategy around some of the most popular technologies in that space.
Updated versions of OpenShift and Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform were released this week with updates intended to shore up services built on two of the most hyped, yet most questioned, technologies emerging in the cloud -- OpenStack and Docker containers.
The Red Hat cloud strategy continues to build on making open source technologies viable for enterprises. The sixth edition of its OpenStack infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offering went into general availability in February, but this week the company added new deployment and management capabilities to the platform, as well as consulting services.
OpenStack has gained industry momentum for private clouds, but the complexities of the open source technology continue to hamper adoption. These improvements are aimed directly at some of those issues.
A new service, Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform director is built on installer technologies acquired from eNovance, Red Hat's existing installation tools and the OpenStack management project TripleO, which the OpenStack website describes as "raw but usable." The director is intended to bring greater visibility and lifecycle management into daily operations.
The ability to streamline and automate installation of the OpenStack offering has been missing so far, said a senior vice president of IaaS and virtualization at a financial services firm in New York, who requested anonymity.
"As a Fortune 100 company, in order for us to bring a product from proof of concept to production, those types of things have to be tuned," he said. "Our operations guys are all excited about the changes we want to make, but [our operations team] will stop us – and they are stopping us now – without having that kind of automation and control and the ability to do lifecycle management. All those things have to be built into the stack."
Larry Carvalhoresearch manager, IDC
Red Hat is taking a step in that direction, the senior VP added. In addition to the open source integration capabilities Red Hat earned through its acquisition of eNovance last year, the company's upcoming Unified Installer is poised to make Red Hat OpenStack deployments faster and less complicated, he said. The Unified Installer was teased at the Red Hat Summit in Boston this week and would give users a single installer for CloudForms, Red Hat Satellite and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization.
His company chose Red Hat's cloud platform, in general, because of its open, non-proprietary nature, he said.
"Our CTO is adamant about us moving toward open source as the rule, not the exception," he said.
Red Hat talks a lot about its consulting services, which points to the lingering problem with OpenStack, said Larry Carvalho, research manager at IDC, a market research firm based in Framingham, Mass.
"One commonality with a lot of folks is they're building a services practice around cloud and that kind of shows you there is still a lot of skills shortage around customers and a lot of these technologies are still relatively new," Carvalho said.
Red Hat is trying to address customer problems, but the bigger challenge in a competitive cloud market is convincing customers they must make cultural changes to adopt this technology and properly utilize it, he added.
"They're taking the right steps," Carvalho said. "The question is how quickly are they getting customers to adapting their technology."
Docker, Kubernetes part of PaaS strategy
Red Hat's other major cloud release was the general availability of OpenShift Enterprise 3, the latest version of its platform as service (PaaS) software. And while the company recently downplayed the role of Docker in the use of containers, the product is based on Docker Linux containers, Kubernetes orchestration and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. Red Hat touts not only the portability and efficiency that comes with container-based applications, but security and orchestration across multiple containers and hosts.
Amadeus IT Group SA, a Madrid-based global technology provider for the travel and tourism industry, was interested in Docker and Kubernetes, in particular, so OpenShift fit its needs. It also wanted better control of its software development platform and a greater degree of flexibility and agility, as well as a more uniform way to schedule and deploy containers, said Dietmar Fauser, vice president of architecture, quality and governance at Amadeus.
The company plans to use OpenShift in production by the fall. And despite the continued questions around running containers at scale, Red Hat's legacy with enterprises and its commitment to security give the company confidence going forward.
"We're very satisfied with the speed at which Red Hat is reacting to the vulnerabilities," Fauser said.
Red Hat is leading the container bandwagon, and the fact that open source technologies are built into its corporate culture should give them a leg up, Carvalho said.
"OpenShift, from a developer's perspective, is pretty good," Carvalho said. "Open technologies – that's part of their DNA, so they are likely to be more successful in the movement to containers and able to pull all these things together to get real efficiencies to customers."
Red Hat also introduced the beta version of OpenShift Dedicated, which is based on OpenShift Online and provides a dedicated public cloud instance for applications that are managed completely by the OpenShift operations team.
Trevor Jones is news writer for TechTarget. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kristin Knapp is site editor for SearchCloudComputing. Contact her at email@example.com or follow @kknapp86 on Twitter.