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Red Hat Enlarges OpenShift Container Management

Red Hat has integrated container storage, single-machine development, and security into its software stack for developers using Docker containers.
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Red Hat has brought its OpenShift development platform to a level where the company can offer a local version free to developers and claim that it's available for end-to-end container management in the enterprise.

That development was made clear as Paul Cormier, president of products and technologies, spoke at a June 28 press conference at the Red Hat Summit, which is running this week in San Francisco. Red Hat was one of Docker's earliest partners, and it returned to Docker's home town to deliver an update on Red Hat's container handling capabilities.

"Red Hat delivers more secure containers with its new scanning capability ... We're taking containers to the enterprise in a big way," he said.

In doing so, Red Hat is both adopting Docker container formatting as part of its approach, and competing with the Docker for rights to become the general-purpose data center manager of containers.

As part of the latter bid, Red Hat uses the Kubernetes container orchestration system over an alternative offered by Docker.

To boost its container credentials, Red Hat's OpenShift now includes the Container Development Kit to help developers get started with containers. The kit includes a single machine version of OpenShift 3. With it, a developer can start using a local, preconfigured version of OpenShift to build Docker containers integrated with Kubernetes as the orchestration system.

Red Hat has previously offered the Atomic Host version of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux, a lightweight stripped down version that can be used to run a container host. It added vulnerability scanning to Atomic Host, so that as containers are built with modules of software, their integrity is checked against the Black Duck knowledge base of vulnerabilities and with other outside services.

Both Docker and CoreOS have offered similar scanning services with their container building products. How is Red Hat's scanning better, Cormier was asked during a press conference at the Moscone Center. The answer is that Red Hat built a container-handling framework inside OpenShift that allows external services to be accessed and supply responses.

"Nobody else has such a comprehensive solution," Cormier claimed.

Part of that solution is also OpenStack, which gives an enterprise user the option of building a container-handling environment meant to function like a private cloud. But the main point undergirding Cormier was that the chain of container touching products were all based on or integrated with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Other container management system suppliers have had to come up with some form of Linux to power their products. In adopting their container management, the customer is adding another form of Linux to his data center operations than Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

In response to another question, he took a swipe at OpenShift rival open source Cloud Foundry, being offered by Pivotal Software -- a spin-off of VMware and originator of the Cloud Foundry project. Pivotal Cloud Foundry is a commercial product coming out of the open source effort, as are versions of Cloud Foundry offered by HPE and IBM.

"They're all different," said Cormier. "Pivotal is now in the Linux business. They use a different Linux, different tools, and different containers (from IBM and HPE)," he said. "If you're using Pivotal Cloud Foundry, that's fine, but understand that's the distribution that you're on." He labeled the Cloud Foundry versions as "Unix all over again."

Red Hat further broadened its container-handling capabilities by offering OpenShift Container Lab for testing and pre-production staging. To get containers into production, it's offering OpenShift Container Platform, which is basically the former OpenShift Enterprise with a new name.

Red Hat has upgraded its Gluster clustering software to work with its other container products and supply a container storage system that can work with a developer, testing team or in production.

Red Had is also offering CloudForms, which has been upgraded to supply visibility into container workloads as they run and keep tabs on the resources of container hosts. CloudForms already provided visibility into virtual machine and OpenStack workloads.

[Want to learn more about the early Red Hat, Docker partnership? Read Red Hat Linux Containers: Not Just Recycled Ideas.]

With the Red Hat approach, customers may define a workload as a virtual machine, bare metal, data center cluster, private cloud or hybrid cloud operation in conjunction with Amazon Web Services or other public cloud, Cormier said. But whatever the approach, Red Hat Enterprise Linux will be present at each step of the process to simplify operations, he said.

Many Red Hat customers are also VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machine users versus Red Hat's own KVM virtual machine approach. As workloads move toward containers, Red Hat is positioning itself to be more squarely astride that trend and allow Red Hat products to function in an on-premises/off-premises hybrid operation.