Red Hat Containers OS-Centric: No Accident - InformationWeek
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4/22/2014
11:36 AM
Charles Babcock
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Red Hat Containers OS-Centric: No Accident

Red Hat's critics say containers are the wrong idea, and too focused on the operating system. I say maybe Red Hat knows a thing or two about pleasing developers.

Red Hat's. In the last year, Docker has been downloaded 1.2 million times, not all of them by Red Hat developers... You get the picture. Docker is being adopted by independent software developers on Github as a way to share files and move development projects around.

It provides a way to assemble a project in the right sequence of files. It captures and maintains images of the files that make up a software stack, giving a user the option of pulling out one of the files for his or her purpose, then inserting the modified file.

A developer working with a Docker container "can use it as is, or swap out a layer and customize it further," said Stevens. It's also possible for a developer to take an existing stack and "add [his or her] own refinement layer on top," making an existing developer stack something more useful in an end-user application.

Developers will ultimately find such workload packaging useful and attractive. It won't fit some workloads that remain part of a larger virtual machine hierarchy. But it seems to me that many legacy systems and some future applications might best be containerized for the benefits that containers bring. The systems will run more efficiently on a multi-tenant host. No hypervisor is needed. The container provides the isolation. Operating system responsibilities are shared between the host kernel and container libraries.

Stevens showed a short video of Solomon Hykes, founder of the Docker project, during his keynote. In it, Hykes said, "It's such a simple, fundamental component. It feels like the community discovered this Lego brick... The variety of things you can build with Docker is mind-blowing, even to us."

Possibly Red Hat knows a thing or two about Linux developers. Or maybe it's just following where developers lead. Either way, containers have a future, and probably so does Red Hat in the cloud.

Can the trendy tech strategy of DevOps really bring peace between developers and IT operations -- and deliver faster, more reliable app creation and delivery? Also in the DevOps Challenge issue of InformationWeek: Execs charting digital business strategies can't afford to take Internet connectivity for granted.

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio

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Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
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4/22/2014 | 12:56:43 PM
When critics say Red Hat is operating system-centric, it's guilty as charged
Virtual machines are a great way to reorganize the data center, with its mix of legacy and new applications. They're a great way to move things around, achieving fuller utilization of servers, networks and storage. But should they be the only way, or even the primary way, to run workloads in the cloud? So far the answer has been yes, but that will change over time.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
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4/22/2014 | 1:18:25 PM
Re: When critics say Red Hat is operating system-centric, it's guilty as charged
What about the security benefits of the isolated containers, Charlie? Wouldn't that appeal to the devs as well?
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
4/22/2014 | 3:10:27 PM
Different Strokes
Only time will tell whether devs adopt the container approach.  Me, I'm personally staying with VMWare and most devs stay with what works rather than what the OS manufacturer would prefer them to use.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
4/22/2014 | 3:16:41 PM
Asksqn will stick with what he knows, and that isn't containers
Asksqn has a point. Most developers stay with what they're familiar with that works -- and that isn't containers today. Containers, however, provide isolation and security similar to virtual machines, while avoiding some of the overhead of virtual machines. I'd like to hear from more developers on whether that has any appeal.
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