The new focus is on providing native support for Windows Server containers for use on Red Hat’s OpenShift container platform. Specifically, support will be included on Red Hat’s OpenShift, OpenShift Dedicated on Microsoft Azure, and SQL Server database management system.
Red Hat’s OpenShift is built using the open source Kubernetes specification. With the update, the OpenShift product will support both Linux and Windows container workloads on a single platform across multiple environments of the hybrid cloud. A technology preview of the enhanced OpenShift product is scheduled to be shown by mid-2018.
The OpenShift Dedicated product updates will include support for the company’s container platform as-a-service for use on Azure. Support is scheduled for availability “in early 2018.”
Red Hat is also working with Microsoft to integrate support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) workloads running in Microsoft’s on-premise Azure Stack.
Red Hat earlier this week announced planned availability of Microsoft’s .NET Core 2.0 product as a container in OpenShift. That announcement also included plans to integrate SQL Server for Linux to RHEL and OpenShift.
Both companies are on the hook to provide support services to enterprises adopting the integrated platforms.
Mike Ferris, VP of cloud strategy at Red Hat, noted the latest deal was an extension from an agreement signed between the two companies in late 2015. That deal was focused more on hybrid cloud computing, while the new agreement adds containers into the mix.
Ferris cited customer demand as a reason for the addition of containers to the previous deal with Microsoft.
“These are really about moving towards customer demand,” Ferris said. “Our customers are using both core technologies and they want to make sure that we work together. Customers have said they want to work within a heterogeneous environment for all cloud platforms.”
John Gossman, lead Azure architect at Microsoft, said since the original deal was announced, both companies have been working to execute on the details and “make sure things work well together.”
Gossman echoed Ferris’ comments that this expansion was about meeting current needs of enterprise customers.
“Sometime in tech you are doing things that are sort of out there. The SQL deal was sort of like that,” Gossman said. “We have been seeing constant demand from our customers that are using both Windows and Red Hat and want to see greater integration for their container work.”
Microsoft has been quickly adding support for container platforms, including a specific focus on Kubernetes. The computing giant recently joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which houses the Kubernetes project.
Gossman said the agreement with Red Hat is somewhat related in terms of Microsoft’s Kubernetes support, but that it has a “ton of Red Hat customers that wanted support, so would have done it either way.”
The deal with Microsoft continues Red Hat’s recent updates to its OpenShift product line, which has become a growing influence on the company’s operations.
The company last month updated the OpenShift Online platform with a focus on streamlining application provisioning and deployment in a multitenant cloud environment.
The move followed a deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in May, which deepened OpenShift native integration into AWS. The on-premise integration plans include the ability to build and extend container-based enterprise applications using AWS compute, database, analytics, machine learning, networking, and mobile application services.
Ferris noted the Microsoft deal is more broadly focused than the AWS agreement, which was more about bringing Red Hat into an on-premise environment.
“The agreement with Microsoft is more about containers across the hybrid cloud,” Ferris said.
Analysts have highlighted potential opportunities from the OpenShift platform.
IDC last year released a report projecting cost and operational savings tied to the use of OpenShift. The results included an average annual benefit of $1.29 million per 100 application development team members per year over five years; 66 percent faster application delivery times; and a 531 percent average return on investment over five years.
Red Hat in its latest quarterly results conference call said the OpenShift platform was included in five of its 44 latest deals valued at more than $1 million. During the call, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst explained OpenShift was seeing attention from the financial services market and retail space.
Looking ahead, Whitehurst said the service is likely to be the company’s biggest revenue driver over the next three years.
“OpenShift drives the rest of the portfolio in a very meaningful way,” Whitehurst said. “Once people are using OpenShift [it’s] much easier to consume our middleware services. And we’ve seen really good traction with middleware services after people have adopted OpenShift.”