Hybrid clouds: building out orchestration, middleware, DevOps and management tooling

Source – siliconangle.com

Hybrid clouds are a necessary step, but often a transitional one, for enterprises that are evolving toward more complete reliance on public clouds.

If you sifted through vendor announcements from the recent Red Hat Summit, you’ll find ample corroboration of this trend. In their efforts to help customers converge their investments in hybrid-cloud platforms, tooling and services, Red Hat Inc. and its partners are making significant investments in four key capabilities: container orchestration, integration middleware, DevOps pipeline tooling and management automation.

Kubernetes orchestrates containerized apps across hybrid clouds

For container orchestration, Kubernetes is a key investment that will take enterprises from predominantly on-premises infrastructures toward the public-cloud future without tripping them up during the in-between years in which hybrid architectures must be supported.

Red Hat and Microsoft Corp. announced the first fully managed OpenShift Container Platform offering on the public cloud for managing hybrid container workflows. Specifically, the partners are bringing OpenShift, which is Red Hat’s open-source Kubernetes container orchestration platform, to Microsoft Azure. OpenShift is the first Kubernetes-based platform to support both Linux and Windows Server container workloads in a single platform across the multiple environments of a hybrid cloud.

Due to go into preview in coming months, Red Hat OpenShift on Azure will enable customers to connect more rapidly and securely between on-premises OpenShift clusters and Azure services. According to the announcement, Red Hat OpenShift on Azure will come with the following:

  • Easy public-cloud access: It will deploy Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform on Microsoft’s on-premises Azure Stack, providing a simple onramp to such public-cloud services as Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Machine Learning and Azure SQL DB.
  • Heterogeneous container support: It will provide developers with the flexibility to move cloud-native applications back and forth between orchestrated containers running in on-premises environments and the Azure public cloud. It will support Windows Server containers alongside Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It will also include SQL Server as a Red Hat certified container for deployment on Red Hat OpenShift on Azure. And it will enable automated, real-time load balancing across heterogeneous containers running in private clouds, the Azure public cloud and even the Amazon Web Services Inc. public cloud.
  • Development hooks: It will include RHEL Linux credits for Visual Studio Enterprise and Visual Studio Professional subscribers. And it will provide developers to access RedShift container management features in .NET, Java or other popular open-source frameworks.
  • Joint vendor support: The container management solution will be fully and jointly managed by both vendors in colocated support teams, with support extending across their respective containerized applications, operating systems, infrastructures and orchestrators, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Azure, Microsoft Azure Stack and Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service.

Middleware threads through hybrid clouds

Building, connecting and managing hybrid-cloud applications requires layers of supporting middleware platforms that have been optimized for containerized microservices.

Red Hat and IBM Corp. announced an expansion of their longstanding partnership to integrate OpenShift with IBM’s deep portfolio of hybrid-cloud middleware. Specifically, they announced that IBM will extend its private cloud platforms — IBM Cloud Private and IBM Cloud Private for Data — and its middleware offerings to Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform.

This will enable joint Red Hat/IBM customers to:

  • Deploy containerized apps to a common hybrid-cloud foundation that integrates Red Hat OpenShift with IBM Cloud Private;
  • Build and deploy containerized applications in a unified container platform in which IBM Cloud Private provides a single view of all enterprise data;
  • Run containerized versions of all IBM Cloud Private services as Red Hat Certified Containers;
  • Leverage IBM Cloud Private’s self-service big-data catalog, deployment engine and operational management on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform across all footprints of the hybrid cloud, including the IBM public cloud; and
  • Run containerized instances of IBM’s cloud-based artificial intelligence, “internet of things” and blockchain services with IBM Cloud Private on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform.

The partners are jointly providing consulting and implementation services to help customers move their applications to containers running in the hybrid Red Hat/IBM cloud. They also announced that IBM PowerAI is now available on RHEL for premises-based deployments. And they announced a plan to accelerate availability of containerized versions of Red Hat’s solutions on premises-deployed IBM Power Systems. We should note that IBM is itself in the middle of a comprehensive program of moving its entire middleware, application and tool portfolio to containers for hybrid-cloud deployment.

DevOps drives operationalization of containerized apps in hybrid clouds

DevOps practices accelerate development, testing and deployment workflows to boost scale, speed, efficiency and predictability.

Red Hat and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. announced solutions for helping joint customers wrap DevOps discipline around the around the operationalization of diverse apps, containerized and otherwise, running in hybrid clouds:

  • Infrastructure: The HPE Synergy software-defined infrastructure will provide a single platform for running, side-by-side, containers on virtual machines and on bare metal, as well as traditional noncontainerized applications.
  • Tooling: In conjunction with Red Hat Ansible Tower and Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, the HPE Synergy Composer tool will automate container provisioning and quality of service in a DevOps workflow. It will also provision persistent storage volumes and backup and restore container data on HPE 3PAR and HPE Nimble storage arrays, as well as from public clouds using HPE Cloud Volumes and/or HPE Cloud Bank Storage. And it will include a reference architecture and playbooks for automating these other management tasks, including high availability, networking, load balancing, operating system security and quality of service.
  • Handholding: The HPE Pointnext professional services team will help customers migrate their DevOps practices to leverage Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform for cloud-native apps deployed into hybrid clouds.

Automation keeps the hybrid cloud humming

Automation is essential for enterprise information technology professionals to manage the scale, complexity and dynamism of hybrid clouds. That explains why Red Hat is planning to integrate the automation features of its recently acquired CoreOS technologies into its portfolio.

At Red Hat Summit, it announced the following development initiatives to beef up its automation capabilities:

  • Kubernetes automation: Red Hat is integrating CoreOS’ enterprise Kubernetes solution, Tectonic, into OpenShift to automate container deployment, scaling, orchestration and oversight. It’s also integrating CoreOS’s Operator Frameworkto automate management of Kubernetes applications, and it already counts more than 60 software partners who have committed to supporting the framework.
  • Registry automation: Red Hat is integrating CoreOS’ enterprise registry solution, Quay, into OpenShift to automate geographic replication, security scanning, rollbacks, pruning and other functions.
  • Hosting automation: Red Hat is integrating CoreOS’s container-native operating system, Container Linux, into OpenShift to support automation of container hosting and other functions from the RHEL and Fedora open-source Linux ecosystems.

In the context of its longtime leadership in open-source platforms, Red Hat’s latest announcements show that it is effectively positioning itself as a go-to vendor for enterprise hybrid clouds. However, it’s not clear whether that’s a tenable competitive differentiator in the long run.

As discussed in this recent study, Wikibon sees hybrid clouds becoming an intermediate stop for enterprises on the way to more complete reliance on public clouds for all application. Keeping data assets partitioned across on-premises and public clouds is not a viable long-term strategy because of the costs, complexities and rigidities associated with hybridized architectures.

For example, Red Hat customers might wish to integrate the newly announced solutions from various and sundry of its hybrid-cloud partners, but that might build excessive overhead costs into their IT infrastructures. The more complex a hybrid cloud deployment becomes, the more attractive public-cloud alternatives become, in terms of simplicity, speed of provisioning and ability to fund them on a pay-as-you-go basis.

For a discussion of the challenges of building applications for hybrid clouds, please check out this Wikibon report from late 2017. For a discussion of deployment and management issues surrounding hybrid clouds, here’s a good Wikibon report from around that same time.