This week at the Red Hat Summit in Boston, Red Hat announced the general availability of Azure Red Hat OpenShift, bringing the first jointly-managed version of Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform to Microsoft’s public cloud, Microsoft Azure. According to a Red Hat statement on the release, Azure Red Hat OpenShift “combines the innovation of trusted enterprise Kubernetes with the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, running on the scale and power of Azure.”
In an interview with The New Stack, Brian Gracely, director of product strategy at Red Hat, explained that Microsoft had noticed that its customers were running OpenShift on Azure, and that it wanted to take ownership of that process, to offer a better experience.
“Microsoft came to us about a year ago and said they were seeing this trend and asked if we would like to jointly build a managed service,” said Gracely. “We offer a version of OpenShift on AWS and we offer a version on Google and we had every intention of offering it as a Red Hat service on Azure. As you work more and more with the cloud providers, they all have their own personality and they all have their way that they like to go to market. Azure ultimately came to us and said the Microsoft way of doing things is a much more integrated experience. Azure just wanted to have a different kind of business relationship and then ultimately different experience for their customers.”
This different experience comes in the form of a tighter integration with the existing Azure customer interface, which includes a unified sign-up process, onboarding, service management and technical support, as well as an integrated billing. According to a Red Hat statement, the partnership doesn’t end there, as “Microsoft and Red Hat are also collaborating to bring customers containerized solutions with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 on Azure, Red Hat Ansible Engine 2.8 and Ansible Certified modules” as well as a joint effort “to deliver SQL Server 2019 with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 support and performance enhancements.”
While these were the primary points offered in the Red Hat announcement, further proof of Microsoft and Red Hat’s burgeoning collaboration could also be found in the release of OpenShift 4, which included another jointly developed feature called Kubernetes-based event-driven autoscaling (KEDA).
“Fully managed serverless offerings like Azure Functions are event–driven by design, but we have been hearing from customers about gaps in these capabilities for solutions based on Kubernetes. Scaling in Kubernetes is reactive, based on the CPU and memory consumption of a container,” writes Hollan. “In contrast, services like Azure Functions are acutely aware of event sources and therefore able to scale based on signals coming directly from the event source, even before the CPU or memory are impacted. We set out to bring the benefits of event-driven architectures and the productivity of functions to Kubernetes.”
Microsoft and Red Hat set out together to build a solution, and thus KEDA was born, which Hollan writes “enables any container to scale from zero to potentially thousands of instances based on event metrics like the length of a Kafka stream or an Azure Queue.”
Gracely relates the abilities of KEDA to those already offered by most any public cloud, which abstracts away the complexities of infrastructure for its users.
“Before, Kubernetes kind of only took care of applications. It didn’t necessarily know how to scale it to underlying infrastructure. So if the application said, ‘I really could use 10 more nodes to deal with this workload,’ you had to go outside the platform and run something like Ansible to build up 10 more nodes,” said Gracely. “Now, Kubernetes has an ability to say ‘you’re going to hit your workload thresholds’ and go down and tell the underlying cloud, ‘go scale out 10 more nodes for me.’ Public cloud providers are providing services that say ‘don’t worry about the infrastructure’ and this brings that capability to Kubernetes and OpenShift.”
Only time will tell, but with Microsoft’s recent pushes into open source software, and Red Hat’s long-time devotion to the ideology, it seems that a budding friendship between these two businesses may be well underway.
Red Hat is a sponsor of The New Stack.