Red Hat launched a significant update to its OpenShift platform that integrates components from its $250 million acquisition of CoreOS. The 3.11 update is the first of two planned as part of that integration. And it bolsters the container-focused platform that has become an increasingly important part of Red Hat’s operations.
Joe Fernandes, vice president of products for Red Hat’s cloud platform, said the first update includes three significant components. Those components are focused on day 2 operations where a customer has to deal with the management and support of its container deployments.
The first component is the integration of CoreOS’ administration console that was part of its Tectonic platform. This provides OpenShift administrators with a view into node management, role-based access controls (RBACs), and underlying cloud infrastructure objects.
Fernandes said this allows for an admin to look at the health of a running container. This includes capacity, health of the nodes, and other control plane components.
The second component is integration of metrics provided by Prometheus and visibility of those metrics through Grafana. Both of those are open source projects that are tied tightly into the Kubernetes ecosystem.
Prometheus is designed to monitor services, including containers. It collects metrics from configured services at specific intervals, evaluates that data to established rules, produces results, and triggers an alarm if a specified rule is part of those results.
Specific to containers, Prometheus monitors their status, the requests flowing through them, and the internals of the applications running inside. The platform uses a query language to help aggregate those metrics into insight that can be used by developers.
Those metrics can be plugged into Grafana to provide a dashboard to view and analyze that data. This also allows for alerts to be established that are triggered should those metrics hit certain levels.
Fernandes explained that while Red Hat has been investing time and resources into Prometheus and Grafana, CoreOS has been more involved in that development and “way ahead in its work.”
The third component of the update is integration of the Operator Framework. CoreOS introduced the concept of an Operator in late 2016. It’s basically a controller that runs Kubernetes for a particular application. It does this by using the Kubernetes API to handle the creation and management of application instances.
The concept is targeted at distributed applications. It allows for the scaling of instances as needed. It also supports the setting of policies in a declarative manner by telling the network what is needed and letting the Operator execute the specific actions to get to that state.
The OpenShift integration is a preview that includes Operators for the Couchbase distributed data base, Dynatrace’s OneAgent monitoring tool, the etcd distributed key-value store, MongoDB transactional data base, Prometheus, and Red Hat’s AMQ Streams data streaming platform. Fernandes explained that these Operators can now be plugged into the OpenShift platform.
Red Hat’s timing and naming of OpenShift updates is tied to the Kubernetes update release cycle. Thus the 3.11 release is based on the Kubernetes 1.11 release from late June, and not the 1.12 release from last month. Red Hat maintains a one-release cycle distance behind Kubernetes in order to work out any additional bugs that might need to be addressed.
While the 3.11 update is extensive, Red Hat is preparing a more robust push with its next OpenShift update. That plan will be the final phase of its CoreOS integration and take on the OpenShift 4.0 moniker.
Fernandes explained that the 4.0 update will include integration of the CoreOS-developed container Linux operating system. That platform will sit alongside Red Hat’s legacy Enterprise Linux and provide users with a choice of operating systems.
Outside of the CoreOS integration, the 4.0 update will also include support for platforms like Istio and Red Hat’s initial serverless offering based on the Knative platform.
Istio has gained traction as a service mesh platform to provide developers with visibility into microservices without the need to change application code. The platform sits at the network level and uses a substrate for microservices development and maintenance. This allows for the decoupling of management from application development.
Knative is a Kubernetes-based platform developed by Google, Pivotal, IBM, Red Hat, and SAP. It’s an open source set of components that allows for the building and deployment of container-based serverless applications that can be transported between cloud providers.
Fernandes explained that beyond enhancements to the OpenShift platform, the CoreOS integration has allowed Red Hat to further set itself apart from other Kubernetes management providers.
Red Hat competes against vendors that specialize in management of containers and Kubernetes across cloud providers and in on-premises environments. Think of companies like Docker Inc., Cisco, and Rancher Labs. These would be in contrast to more closed management models like those offered by the large cloud providers that are restricted to their specific public cloud platforms and maybe on-prem.
Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst told investors during the company’s most recent quarterly conference call that OpenShift was a significant part of recent customer discussions.
“It’s hard to find a customer that’s not looking at or starting to use OpenShift in some way, which is great to see,” Whitehurst said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.