Red Hat Summit 2019 featured notable directional statements on containers and Kubernetes (OpenShift), Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), the open source culture, and the coming relationship with IBM. Red Hat OpenShift continues to see enterprise uptake as a leading cloud native development and operating environment. New RHEL releases will continue to reflect Red Hat’s commitment to open source, and IBM CEO Ginny Rometty made sincere statements regarding Red Hat’s future position within IBM. If guidance from IBM was what Red Hat customers and employees were looking for, Rometty delivered.
During a conversational keynote session with Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst, she reaffirmed a statement she made early-on when the proposed $34B acquisition of Red Hat was announced. After mentioning that she was in the process of “reinventing” IBM, she noted that the changes she’s making will build on top of Red Hat. “This is not coming together – this is working together.” She addressed Red Hat customers and employees in the audience directly: “You have built a wonderful culture and ecosystem,” and in her closing remarks stated, “I am not buying them to destroy them”.
During his keynote, CEO Whitehurst addressed Red Hat’s continuing commitment to open source software development and to the “open source way”. This theme was echoed in other keynotes and presentations throughout the summit.
From a product standpoint, the stars of the show were RHEL release 8.1 OpenShift and Ansible. Red Hat added AI and managed services to RHEL, OpenShift 4.0 is now Red Hat’s way to instantiate open, container-based hybrid cloud IT environments, while Ansible adds open source-developed automation to the hybrid cloud “stack.”
With RHEL 8, Red Hat introduces imbedded AI into its enterprise Linux OS subscriptions with the announcement of Red Hat Insights. Insights will proactively identify and remediate IT issues including security vulnerabilities and stability problems using predictive analytics. In addition, Red Hat announced Smart Management (Management as a Service) which RHEL users can leverage in conjunction with Insights to optimize the RHEL 8 environment.
OpenShift Release 4 enhances automated container management with the inclusion of Red Hat OpenShift Certified Operators – an advance for customers wanting to deploy stateful and complex applications on Kubernetes. Operators implement cloud-like automation capabilities such as self-service provisioning, self-tuning, data-replication, automated backups, and automated updates. Red Hat OpenShift now has more than 40 Operators available in its embedded OperatorHub. Automatic software updating and lifecycle management will be enabled by the yet to be released RHEL CoreOS, a minimal footprint operating system designed to host Red Hat OpenShift deployments. Customers will also see OpenShift availability across public clouds including Alibaba, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, and Microsoft Azure which was announced at the Summit.
Red Hat will make available Azure Functions in OpenShift. In addition, Microsoft announced at Summit the general availability of Azure OpenShift Service, a fully managed offering of OpenShift running in Azure which is jointly managed and supported by Microsoft and Red Hat. (We note that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was on the keynote stages at both Red Hat Summit and Dell Technologies World the previous week to help showcase Azure cloud partnerships.)
Years ago, OpenStack was to be the open source platform for aggregating and managing virtual machines. Two things happened on the way to realizing significant enterprise OpenStack adoption. First, its was complex and required specialized expertise. Second, containers managed by Kubernetes (OpenShift) emerged as the simpler way to use an open source platform to accomplish the same goal. OpenStack fell by the wayside while OpenShift slammed into high gear. To Red Hat’s good fortune, its delivery of OpenShift is a leading foundational platform for supporting enterprise IT transformation projects.
We spoke to an OpenShift administrator during Summit who stated that his IT organization (large European bank with 20K employees) was using as a platform for hybrid cloud services delivery. He stated that OpenShift was “ready for prime time.” We note this because we are aware of IT operations groups who are closely watching the progress of Kubernetes toward operational readiness.
Why did IBM buy Red Hat? Certainly, one of the reasons is the potential for OpenShift to offer serious competition to VMware. But Red Hat Summit 2019 was as much a celebration of all things open source as it was about all things Red Hat. CEO Whitehurst spent almost all of his entire opening keynote touting the open source way and how organizations use it to accelerate innovation. He noted that every IT vendor increasingly relies on open source to drive new technology.
Enter IBM CEO Ginny Rometty who stated that IBM was essentially doubling down on open source – first by investing over the previous years a total of $1B in open source development projects, and second by affirming Red Hat’s essential grounding in open source. She addressed Red Hat customers and employees in the audience directly: “You have built a wonderful culture and ecosystem,” and in her closing remarks stated in essence, “I am not buying you to destroy you”.