When IBM Corp. acquired Red Hat Inc. in October for $34 billion — a deal voted for approval this week — it gained more than just a successful open-source company. What IBM bought was a set of key enterprise computing tools, many of which revolve around the Kubernetes container management platform, that could propel the company to a position of industry leadership in hybrid cloud computing.
Central to that strategy will be containerized storage and management, deployed in both the public cloud and on-premises environments. Even before IBM’s acquisition, Red Hat’s Paul Cormier, executive vice president and president of products and technologies, viewed his business as the cornerstone of hybrid cloud and modern application deployment.
“The next era of technology is being driven by container-based applications that span multi- and hybrid cloud deployments,” said Cormier in early 2018. “Kubernetes, containers and Linux are at the heart of this transformation.”
Advances in container technology have allowed developers to concentrate more on applications, but the technology remains complex. Kubernetes co-founder Brendan Burns posted a lengthy description last spring of the containerization tool’s complicated future, including a belief that the orchestration layer should be integrated with a serverless infrastructure.
Whether that happens or not, it still all comes down to data and how information is gathered, stored and deployed across the enterprise. For now, this is where Red Hat is clearly focused.
“Although the industry talks about serverless, they’re not yet talking about data-less or storage-less,” said Brent Compton (pictured), senior director of storage, hyperconverged infrastructure and big data architectures at Red Hat. “Data is the sun around which applications and services rotate.”
Compton spoke with John Furrier (@furrier) and Stu Miniman (@stu), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon event in Seattle, Washington. They discussed how a recent acquisition will complement Red Hat’s hybrid strategy, the future role of OpenShift for containerized environments, innovation designed to streamline Kubernetes management, and the company’s forward-looking approach to a multicloud world. (* Disclosure below.)
This week, theCUBE features Brent Compton as its Guest of the Week.
Acquisition adds to hybrid toolkit
In late November, Red Hat quietly acquired NooBaa Inc., an early stage software company focused on managing data storage across hybrid cloud environments. The Israeli firm gave Red Hat an additional tool for hybrid cloud management, in addition to the Ceph storage service and OpenShift.
NooBaa’s code is not open source, although Red Hat has indicated it will open the technology at some point in the future. Behind the acquisition is a goal to bring a common set of data services for stateless applications, programs not dependent on data from a previous session, across multicloud environments.
“If I’m a developer I’m thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if I had a common set of data services, including common protocol, to talk to all of those different cloud storage backends,’” Compton explained. “NooBaa plus Ceph are helping stateless apps get to hybrid and multicloud.”
OpenShift, Red Hat’s enterprise container and Kubernetes platform, will also play a key role in the firm’s evolving hybrid model, specifically OpenShift Container Storage, or OCS. Red Hat’s value proposition for OCS is to offer enterprises cost-effective and developer-friendly storage services for containerized apps.
In August, Red Hat took steps to add volume support and enable high availability for storage on its container platform with the introduction of version 3.10 for OCS. By providing a consistent storage experience across the hybrid cloud, OCS lets users centralize support for their containerized environments with a single vendor.
This dynamic is what Compton refers to as the “sweet spot” for Red Hat’s OpenShift. “It’s providing a common set of Kubernetes services, plus continuous integration and deployment pipeline services for developers and operations staff independent of your cloud infrastructure,” Compton said. “OpenShift Container Storage is the mirror analog to OpenShift for providing a common set of Kubernetes volume services independent of what the storage substrate is.”
600 percent growth in OCS
Red Hat’s recent moves with OCS are apparently resonating with its customers. Compton cited one company that implemented the container storage solution for a cruise ship and has since come back for deployment on another vessel.
“What’s been very gratifying for us is they’re now coming back for a second pass,” Compton said. “In the last six quarters, we’ve had 600-percent growth with OpenShift Container Storage.”
Containers place specific demands on storage technology, and one of them is persistence. Applications need immediate access to data that must be persisted in storage or they become useless. To unleash agility and innovation in persistence as it pertains to Kubernetes, Red Hat has placed bets on two technology solutions. One is Container Storage Interface. or CSI, which allows the OpenShift Container Platform to process data stored in backends in a persistent way.
In September, Red Hat announced that it would add support for CSI to its container platform in 2019. The concept behind CSI is to unify the interface of orchestration systems like Kubernetes or Docker with storage vendors.
“All of the volume plugin providers write to that interface, so they can iterate to their hearts’ content without having to change the entry source,” Compton said.
The other key innovation involved Operator Framework for Kubernetes, unveiled by Red Hat in May. The framework was open sourced by Red Hat following its acquisition of CoreOS Inc. earlier in 2018. Operator Framework is essentially a toolkit for Kubernetes application management in a more scalable and automated fashion. In June, Red Hat followed up on Operator Framework with Operator Metering, a tool for tracking cloud usage and expense.
“It’s effectively automating things that human operators would do for complex subsystems, such as storage,” said Compton, highlighting key tasks, such as basic installation and upgrades.
The arrival of containers has redefined the storage world for many enterprises. It’s a different way to use and consume storage, but it will also be incumbent on storage tech providers to supply the tools for managing containers across a hybrid environment.
This is the new world that Red Hat is targeting, one that will increasingly be cloud-independent, data-service oriented, and highly mobile.
“I want to ensure that my data is where I need it on different clouds,” Compton said. “So I’m elevating to a new layer, this cloud storage controller, this cloud-independent set of data services. We think that’s where the puck is going.”
Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon event. (* Disclosure: Red Hat Inc. sponsored this segment of theCUBE. Neither Red Hat nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)
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