Red Hat Continues to Innovate Application Deployment: How OpenShift Simplifies Container and Orchestration Management

TL; DR: Taking care of the tiresome and tedious task of setting up a development environment, OpenShift balances scalable computing power with a simple, easy-to-use interface. By automating infrastructure configuration and deployment, Red Hat enables enterprises to jump-start their development teams’ workflows. Accelerating innovation within container and orchestration communities, Red Hat and OpenShift are deserving winners of our Developers’ Choice™ award for simplifying application deployment.

A longtime mainstay in the open-source world, Red Hat struggled with delivering applications as quickly and efficiently as it wanted — just like its customers.

Red Hat looked internally for a solution, building and deploying the company’s own OpenShift application container platform to give teams more control when creating and developing apps in the cloud. OpenShift was originally created to reconnect Red Hat with individual developers by automating workflows and reducing the time spent waiting for infrastructure. Once OpenShift was deployed, Red Hat created more than 700 apps in the following 10 months.

“We can now deploy applications in response to critical situations in hours versus days,” said Lee Congdon, Red Hat’s CIO at the time, in a case study.

OpenShift continues to deliver new functionalities and empower developers by taking care of tedious infrastructure management. The team’s close involvement with the Docker and Kubernetes open-source communities advances how developers can quickly build, host, and scale applications, allowing them to focus on their products and customers instead of setting up an environment.

Red Hat’s Early Commitment to Emerging Open-Source Technologies

The container concept existed in Unix and Linux for more than a decade before dotCloud announced an open-source container project called Docker. OpenShift had been running on gears, which were similar to Docker containers, shared a common operating system kernel, and ran more efficiently than virtual machines.

With its launch in 2013, however, Docker made it easier for developers to work with containers and created a standard packaging format for applications running in containers. Red Hat became one of the first vendors to endorse and partner with Docker, integrating the technology into OpenShift and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.

Beyond providing an excellent packaging format for containerized application stacks, OpenShift’s Senior Director of Product Management Joe Fernandes said Red Hat valued the move toward standardized containers instead of all the proprietary implementations that existed at the time.

“We felt, even then, that Docker could become an industry standard and would enable a broad ecosystem of application content to develop around it,” he said.

Red Hat leveraged Docker and Kubernetes technologies and communities to form OpenShift.

Less than a year later, Red Hat joined Google for the Kubernetes project launch. Written in Go, the orchestration platform automates deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Google teams are famous in the application development and deployment world for their container usage, deploying billions of containers every week.

“We felt Kubernetes provided the best solution for container orchestration available anywhere,” Joe said. “We also felt that Google brought tremendous credibility and experience in orchestrating containers at scale, and we were very happy that the Kubernetes community was fully open and meritocracy-based.”

2 Challenges OpenShift Addresses for Enterprises

Red Hat offers OpenShift in four different flavors to cater to various users needs. OpenShift Origin is the open-source community project, while OpenShift Online provides a small-scale public cloud hosting option.

For larger customers looking for dedicated servers and support, OpenShift Dedicated runs in Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Compute Engine. A comercially supported software product, OpenShift Container Platform enables large-scale enterprises to orchestrate containers in their own datacenter or public cloud.

1. Building Strong and Reliable Foundations for Containerized Applications

Boasting more than 15 years of working with and contributing to Linux, Red Hat provides a secure foundation for containerized applications through Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which delivers 99.999% uptime — essential for mission-critical enterprise applications.

“It’s important to remember that containers are just sandboxed processes that run on a shared Linux host,” Joe said. “The work that Red Hat has done around Linux security, content packaging, vulnerability patching, file systems, performance, and more serves as the foundation for our container platform.”

2. Integrating With Kubernetes for Orchestration and Container Management

Red Hat bills OpenShift Container Platform as an enterprise-level distribution of Kubernetes, helping applications run across many containers and hosts. OpenShift “goes beyond infrastructure,” as Joe said, by making containers accessible to developers and integrating them into deployment processes.

“OpenShift also addresses friction points, such as integrating Kubernetes with your software-defined networking, load balancing, storage, authentication and authorization systems, and more,” he said.

What’s New in OpenShift Container Platform 3.4

Further reducing the barriers to adopting container technology at the enterprise level, Red Hat released Version 3.4 of OpenShift Container Platform in January 2017. Some new and improved features include:

  • Expanded container storage allows for multiple storage types to be provisioned dynamically. Red Hat Gluster Storage improves the user experience and cost-effectiveness of container-native storage across on-premises and public cloud environments.
  • Enhanced multi-tenancy capabilities offer teams more simplified management processes. Several teams, applications, and environments can run completely isolated and share resources on one Kubernetes cluster. Users can search for projects, specific information, and manage access through an improved web portal.
  • New reference architectures for hybrid cloud environments help users deploy a stable production-grade environment across public and private clouds, virtual machines, and bare metal. OpenShift Container Platform supports hybrid clouds on OpenStack, VMware, AWS, Google Cloud Engine, and Azure.

The storage solutions expand and streamline the container platform’s ability to run stateful and stateless applications. Stateful apps store information about what has happened or changed as it runs, while stateless apps don’t expose any of that information.

Up Next: New Features and Expanded Workloads for Kubernetes

In addition to enhanced container security features, such as scanning, signing, and registry capabilities, much of the OpenShift development effort centers around the Kubernetes community, according to Joe.

Red Hat is leading the Kubernetes Service Catalog project, aiming to help developers find and connect services to their applications, whether the services are running in containers or elsewhere in the cloud or datacenter.

“We are working on new capabilities that are expanding the range of workloads that customers can run in containers,” Joe said. “That enables more traditional services, such as databases, big data, and analytics applications, as well as performance-intensive, GPU-enabled workloads.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Stamey

Laura Stamey is a multi-talented communicator with a master's degree in web design and online communication and extensive experience creating web, print, and multimedia products. As a Contributing Editor for HostingAdvice.com, she combines her communication skills with web design experience, a passionate love for WordPress, and a strong desire to continue learning. When she's not addressing user questions via helpful how-to guides, you'll find her connecting with the folks behind companies that are powering the Web — covering their innovative technologies and the teams that engineer them.