Red Hat Touts Linux Containers For Cloud - InformationWeek

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4/16/2014
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Red Hat Touts Linux Containers For Cloud

Red Hat teams with Docker, urges developers to consider Linux-based containers as a lightweight alternative to virtual machine files for moving workloads to the cloud.

Red Hat announced on Tuesday a new version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) called RHEL Atomic Host, and that it will sponsor an Atomic open-source code project. Atomic hosts will recognize and support the container format that's used by Red Hat and derived from the Docker open-source code project.

Red Hat is also launching the GearD open-source project, which will arrange containerized resources so that more than one can be used by a single application. In some cases containers will be nested so that they fire off services for an application as needed, Cormier explained.

Red Hat's announcements took place soon after IBM, a premier sponsor of the Red Hat Summit, announced that it is making VMware spinoff Pivotal's Cloud Foundry its primary PaaS for developers. IBM also plans to fund a Cloud Foundry Foundation to broaden Cloud Foundry governance and financing for Cloud Foundry developers. Rackspace quickly followed IBM's lead, becoming a foundation contributor and member.

In February, just four months after Rackspace announced Project Solum as part of the OpenStack project, Pivotal announced the foundation and its new supporters. Solum was widely regarded inside OpenStack as a stalking horse for Red Hat's OpenShift platform, and Red Hat signed onto Solum with a team of developers within 24 hours of its announcement. The Cloud Foundry Foundation is a signal that Rackspace and IBM support for Solum could shift to another project.

Asked about the politics of Linux containers, however, Cormier wasn't having it. Containers are a choice for Linux developers, he said, along with bare metal hosts and VMware virtualized servers -- all fair game as future sources of cloud workloads. "It's not political. It's practical.

"How thin or how robust the operating system is [with the application in the container] is actually an element of choice for the customer," he stated. But Cormier and many other observers know that, given a choice between thin or robust when moving files over the network, Linux and web application developers overwhelmingly prefer thin.

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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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Andrew Binstock
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Andrew Binstock,
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4/17/2014 | 4:04:38 PM
Re: Containers next big thing?
That's right. Dockers are a subset of true VMs. This makes them attractive for quick deploy esp. for developers with straightforward cloud apps, but they're not suitable for all VM use cases.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
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4/17/2014 | 1:43:34 PM
Re: Containers next big thing?
Gregory396, Containers as Red Hat is using the term are specific to Unix systems and in its case, of course, Linux. I'm not sure what Citrix is doing in a similar vein with XenApp. I'd be cautious about saying hypervisor suppliers are dependent on hardware vendors for access to the cloud. Both AMD and Intel make it easier for hypervisors to get hardware services they need through virtualization hooks and shortcuts built into the chip. But hypervisor workloads re not literally dependent on hardware manufacturers to move into the cloud. Maybe that's not what you meant.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
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4/17/2014 | 1:34:31 PM
RE: Is this really new?
CumuloNimbus, I guess the short answer is, yes, there's a lot new here. I don't blame you for a little skepticism and containers are an old idea. But Red Hat, in connection with Docker, is implementing them in a way that's useful for moving cloud workloads efficiently. See IDC analyst Al Hilwa's comments at the end of this column: Red Hat Linux Containers; Not Just Recycled Ideas

http://www.informationweek.com/cloud/platform-as-a-service/red-hat-linux-containers-not-just-recycled-ideas/d/d-id/1204530?piddl_msgid=210201&piddl_msgposted=yes#msg_210201 

 
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
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4/16/2014 | 2:18:01 PM
Why are containers described as "lightweight?"
The application in the container gets part of its operating system services from "user mode" libraries included in the container and part from the Linux kernel on the host server. The parameters in the container insure that the host kernel is a compatible one. Thus, the application doesn't need to carry the whole operating system with it as its transported into the cloud. And in theory, more containers can run on a host than virtual machines, due to this lighter weight of this configuration.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
4/16/2014 | 1:16:09 PM
Containers next big thing?
Red Hat President Paul Cormier Tues. pooh poohed notion that containers were competition for VMware. Next morning, Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens in Summit keynote calls Linux containers "the next phase of virtualization." That's not quite true. In some cases, containers could replace virtual machines for higher density operation on cloud hosts. They provide isolation similar to virtualization. But they don't pool and manage resources in the data center like virtualization.
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