Streamline and extend: IBM’s play for what it calls ‘hybrid multicloud’ or ‘Chapter 2 of the Cloud’

IBM will use OpenShift to bring a consistent cloud value proposition, remaining agnostic toward delivery method, location or cloud provider

In 2015 Red Hat’s CEO made a statement at an analyst day presentation that Red Hat aimed to do to the PaaS layer with OpenShift what it had done to the enterprise operating system layer with RHEL. That strategy was thoroughly validated with IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat. At the core of the IBM Cloud Summit were discussions of how OpenShift was the only platform layer capable of running on multiple clouds, in what IBM describes as hybrid multicloud. In IBM’s definition, hybrid denotes the ability to run applications on premises, in private clouds, in public clouds and at the edge. Multicloud denotes the ability to mix and match different cloud providers across the hybrid continuum. Many vendors can deliver single brand — or monocloud — hybrid that is a new version of vendor lock-in. IBM asserts OpenShift is the only cloud operating system and development layer that can enable customers to code once and deploy on any form factor from any technology vendor.

Stefanie Chiras, VP and general manager of the RHEL Business Unit, articulated the central Red Hat value proposition as being an enterprise software company with an open-source development model. Involved in a variety of different open-source projects, Red Hat monitors these myriad projects, filtering the most powerful innovations from these upstream contributions into the RHEL operating system before hardening these projects into enterprise-grade products and adding the necessary security and DevOps deployment features needed for large enterprises.

This hardened curation of open-source community projects has seen Kubernetes container management rapidly emerge as a de facto deployment standard, which has Linux as the underpinning operating system. OpenShift stitches RHEL and Kubernetes together with additional development services, and IBM will pivot all its software into cloud-native deployment models resting on top of this foundation to enable the software to run anywhere its customers require.

IBM bets on Cloud Paks to simplify application modernization migration to the cloud in what it calls the ‘second chapter’

IBM’s point of view is that the cloud is entering its second chapter. In the first chapter, which has been the last 15 years, enterprises have moved some development and some customer-facing applications to the cloud, but the deep back-office systems of record have remained on premises for a variety of reasons, including the technical debt of the custom applications, as well as concerns around security and compliance.

Cloud Paks are the manifestation of three to five years of ongoing development work to refactor their monolithic middleware applications into containerized, cloud-ready services. From a packaging standpoint, the Paks simplify the sprawling IBM middleware portfolio into pre-integrated solutions that address the most pressing challenges to cloud migration and operations. All Cloud Paks sit atop RHEL and OpenShift, with IBM promising “single button push deployment” when running applications on the IBM Cloud. Being underpinned by RHEL and by OpenShift maintains infrastructure independence and enables enterprise customers the ability to choose any vendor cloud or underlying on-premises infrastructure to run these applications anywhere.

The IBM Cloud Summit 2019 combined several main IBM initiatives into a full day of executive presentations for the analyst community. IBM’s presentations on strategy and innovation centered on the opportunity to migrate 80% of the workloads still run by traditional IT delivery methods to the cloud. IBM’s legacy strengths, combined with more recent investments, make the company well suited to help customers address the remaining 80% of IT workloads, most of which are mission critical. IBM’s recent landmark investment was the purchase of Red Hat, and IBM laid out in even greater detail how that will benefit customers. This was followed by a series of presentations taking aim at the untapped market opportunity as well as the various middleware services and professional services IBM can bring to bear on the application migration and modernization efforts for its customers resting on the foundational elements of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Red Hat OpenShift and Kubernetes container management clusters.

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