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Red Hat, Microsoft Make OpenShift an Azure Service

 

The joint service indicates IBM’s plans to keep Red Hat independent.

 

RED HAT SUMMIT — Red Hat and Microsoft are teaming up to offer a jointly managed Kubernetes solution to the Microsoft Azure cloud, a move that not only gives enterprises another avenue into hybrid clouds but also bolsters IBM’s promise to keep Red Hat independent after it acquires the Linux operating system vendor later this year.

At the Red Hat Summit 2019 in Boston, officials with both Azure and Red Hat unveiled Azure Red Hat OpenShift, a jointly managed service in the public cloud based on Red Hat’s OpenShift Kubernetes container orchestration platform. Enterprises have been able to bring an OpenShift environment into a variety of public clouds, including AzureAmazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and IBM Cloud. However, through the new offering, customers get a more tightly integrated service that is backed by both companies and makes it easier to manage and run containerized applications both on-premises and in the cloud.

The integration of OpenShift with Azure’s environment delivers such capabilities as unified sign-up, on-boarding, service management and technical support, according to Azure and Red Hat. The service also helps reduce the complexities and management headaches that come with running workloads both on premises and in the public cloud. In addition, the joint effort between Red Hat and Microsoft means that customers will be able to get OpenShift through their Azure subscriptions.

“We were seeing a lot of customers who would buy the OpenShift software and then run apps on top of Azure,” Brian Gracely, director of product strategy at Red Hat, told Channel Futures. “The Azure team came to us and said, ‘Hey, we’re seeing the same thing. Would you like to build a joint managed service together and make it simpler for your customers?’ … This will be a native Azure service jointly integrated, jointly supported, jointly engineered by Red Hat and Microsoft. But it’s really the first opportunity for a Microsoft customer who says they like OpenShift but wants to be able to buy it from Microsoft and wants to be able to get it on demand.”

Roger Kay, principal analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, told Channel Futures that the Red Hat-Microsoft deal is not unlike other efforts designed to make it easier for enterprises to move at least some of their workloads into the public cloud.

Enterprise adoption of hybrid cloud and multicloud strategies is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years as organizations wrestle with the rapid changes occurring around data proliferation, analytics and modern workloads that leverage such technologies as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Containers and Kubernetes will play a crucial role in helping enterprises manage their on-premises and cloud workloads and move them between the two areas and between public clouds. Gartner analysts have said the container ecosystem is still relatively immature, though 30% of organizations globally are running containerized applications in production today. However, they expect that number to jump to 75% by 2022.“This is all the rage now, packaging complex software so it’s more usable,” Kay said. “ It reminds me of the Virtustream guys putting together SAP with VMware. Their whole business is removing the hair for SAP customers who are trying to move partially to the cloud and need to adopt VMware. This is another camp doing something similar.”

Tech vendors see containers and Kubernetes as key drivers of the new data-centric and cloud-based IT world and are rapidly expanding their capabilities around the technologies. That was on display late last month at Dell Technologies World, with Dell and some of its companies, such as VMware, touting their growing portfolios around the hybrid cloud. Red Hat is doing the same this week with the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8 and OpenShift 4. The partnership with Azure is another part of the strategy.

The OpenShift Azure service, which is available now, also will be a help to channel partners, according to Sean Roberts, senior vice president and general manager of public cloud services at Ensono, a hybrid cloud service provider that counts Microsoft, IBM and AWS among its partners.

“The challenge all channel partners face in public cloud is the same as our customers — keeping up with the rapid change of technology,” Roberts told Channel Futures. “Adding OpenShift as a native service to Azure will reduce complexity of the solution, which leads to better outcomes for customers and more scalable services for channel partners.”

The tighter partnership between Red Hat and Microsoft also is an indication that IBM plans to follow through on promises to keep Red Hat independent after Big Blue completes its $34 billion acquisition of the software company. That’s a good thing, according to Roberts.

“We all feared that IBM might accidentally destroy the enterprise value of the very thing it bought by imposing top-down edicts and processes,” he said. “Thankfully so far, this seems to be a hands-off approach akin to that being adopted by Microsoft with LinkedIn and GitHub. This gives IBM the best of both worlds — continued innovation with an opportunity to engage a new category of customer.”

Endpoint Associates’ Kay agreed, adding that “IBM has seen the value of open platforms all along the way, and that philosophy is pretty deeply entrenched there. I think IBM will keep RedHat open and maintain it as a reliable partner.”

IBM President and CEO Ginni Rometty reiterated that stance during the keynote address at the Red Hat Summit. Speaking with Red Hat President and CEO Jim Whitehurst, Rometty spoke about IBM’s longstanding commitment to open technologies and how she plans to accelerate that with Red Hat in the fold.

“Red Hat should stay an independent unit,” Rometty said to the applause of the about 8,000 attendees at the Red Hat Summit. “The whole of any open platform that is buy by everyone is that it means everyone.”

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