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Scope of Red Hat OpenShift expands, bringing hybrid cloud to new environments and open-source projects

TBR perspective

Based on a foundation in Linux, which enables containerized applications to move across physical and virtual environments, Red Hat maintains a unique market presence with its neutral PaaS solution, Red Hat OpenShift. Red Hat’s vision to extend the applicability of Red Hat OpenShift, which is leveraged by 90% of Fortune 500 companies, to new use cases, consumption models and environments was one of the key takeaways from Red Hat Summit 2021.

As discussed by Paul Cormier, one of the main benefits of an open hybrid cloud approach, which is based on open code, processes and cultures, is the flexibility to run applications across environments with consistency. This approach positions Red Hat and its customers to evolve alongside emerging market trends such as AI, 5G and even quantum computing. As seen in Red Hat’s expanding top line, the company has been successful leading with an architectural approach under core brands such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), OpenShift and Ansible. TBR believes Red Hat will be well positioned to expand its portfolio to new markets and customers and push its open-source expertise beyond the bounds of cloud computing due to continued support from IBM (NYSE: IBM) and an expanding ecosystem of systems integrators (SIs) and ISVs.

Red Hat expands Red Hat OpenShift usage with new managed cloud services

While Red Hat has offered Red Hat OpenShift as a managed service for some time, scaling up managed support is becoming a key initiative for the company, especially as more customers pursue managed offerings to offload operational tasks at both the applications and infrastructure layers. To broaden the applicability of Red Hat OpenShift, at the event, the company unveiled three new cloud managed services supporting customers’ need to build, deploy and integrate modern applications within their existing Red Hat OpenShift environment, either in the cloud or on premises.

At the Red Hat Summit 2021 conference, Red Hat continued to convey to a group of customers, partners and industry analysts the message of open hybrid cloud the company has been leading with for over a decade. Over the course of the three-day event, executives including Red Hat CEO Paul Cormier and Products and Technologies EVP Matt Hicks outlined Red Hat’s evolution from an operating system company to one offering a full suite of self-service software and services for hybrid cloud.

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.

IBM and Red Hat close the deal — will it be red washing or blue washing?

On July 9 IBM held a 30-minute Q&A with industry analysts, led by Red Hat EVP of Engineering Paul Cormier and IBM SVP of Cloud and Cognitive Software Arvind Krishna. The discussion confirmed the overarching strategic benefits both parties see in the union while stressing the intentions to keep Red Hat vendor agnostic. Around three-quarters of Red Hat’s revenue is generated through its channel, suggesting Red Hat is viewed as a valuable and highly sought-after partner. Despite the fact that IBM and Red Hat executives continue to echo the necessity of maintaining all of Red Hat’s existing alliances, these relationships could come under review by the partners themselves now that the acquisition of Red Hat by IBM has been approved by regulatory boards globally and finalized.

Indeed, when queried about industry concerns that Red Hat would be “blue washed,” Krishna said, “[Blue washing] would be a bad thing for both [companies],” and suggested the exact opposite — that there could be some “red washing” of IBM that results, which has also been an opinion TBR has offered in various commentary as this deal moved toward closure.

Red Hat almost single-handedly commoditized the enterprise software space before taking aim to do the same thing with the platform layer through OpenShift. Commoditization is not something IBM necessarily has liked to see over the years at it rapidly eroded the transaction-oriented hardware segment of the industry as IBM pivoted to software and services. The developer community can now accelerate innovation through this open foundation layer, which is how Red Hat will remain autonomous from IBM. Red Hat’s best practices around subscription monetization of essentially free IP generated by the open-source community will likely be the best practices brought forward to red wash IBM as it moves further into the automated services arena, with Watson Anywhere and Blockchain Anywhere as two recent examples of these moves.

How can IBM scale Red Hat’s best practices?

IBM will bring its technical skills to the union to bridge the legacy world with the open-source world underpinned by Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), OpenShift and Kubernetes containers. Both Cormier and Krishna highlighted the breadth of IBM Services’ that can be brought to bear for enterprises looking to migrate the 80% of workloads that have yet to migrate to cloud, according to IBM. Through OpenShift, this migration can extend beyond just moving from legacy applications to one public cloud, to encompass nimble and secure migration to and between multiple clouds and on-premises instances.

Red Hat will still operate with multiple vendors while also maintaining the robust and expansive developer community that has been described, with some legitimacy, as almost a cult-like following. Indeed, it can be argued that this merger will in retrospect be viewed as a milestone event in the ongoing march to consumerize IT to simplify the technology side of business operations and focus more on business objectives than on the technical challenges. DevOps and security practitioners will have one platform cemented by Kubernetes containers to work within a true multicloud environment.

What tactical steps must be achieved to implement the strategic vision?

The teleconference had TBR analysts pondering many of the as-yet-unanswered questions that IBM and Red Hat stated will be addressed in the upcoming weeks. Principal among those TBR questions are the following:

  • How successful will IBM be at operating Red Hat as a stand-alone unit — an acquisition model it has yet to take on? Typically, acquired companies are blue washed, and it has been common to see executives from acquired companies resign. Will that be the case with Red Hat? Will Red Hat CEO James Whitehurst stay on, and better yet, will he succeed IBM CEO Ginni Rometty in coming years?
  • How will IBM Cloud Private (ICP) and OpenShift coexist? The move to multicloud with OpenShift underpinning the DevOps and security communities begs the question: How much emphasis will or should be placed on ICP? Will ICP be joined, or will OpenShift supplant that technology, with IBM Services maintaining the implementation based on trust from years of account control in the large enterprise?
  • What will be the development road map for IBM middleware assets? How will these assets align with, merge with, or remain distinct from the Red Hat portfolio?
  • How will IBM blend Red Hat best practices, technology and personnel into its own developer ecosystems, programs, and the IBM Garage method? This issue will be more of a cultural shift.
  • How can IBM and Red Hat increase share in the midmarket enterprise? Developer satisfaction will be closely monitored, but open platforms also mean access to cutting-edge technology by smaller enterprises. That go-to-market motion is radically different from the traditional enterprise motion where IBM has excelled for decades. In the era of multi-enterprise business networks, small enterprises and large enterprises interoperate more frequently through automated systems. IBM’s brand at times works against it within the midmarket, which perceives the offers to be too costly and likely too complex for its requirements. To gain scale with multi-enterprise business networks, this issue will be a critical area to improve upon.

All the right words were spoken, and the strategic vision appears sound. As always, the devil will be in the details, and those details will be laid out in the ensuing weeks and months around one of the most important acquisitions in IBM’s — and the industry’s — history.

Authors: Senior Analyst Cassandra Mooshian ([email protected]) and Senior Strategy Consultant & Principal Analyst Geoff Woollacott ([email protected])

Red Hat builds the digital transformation autobahn, where developers are king of the road

Red Hat production systems curate community IP into a simplified horizontal platform, paving the way for scaled innovation

In a 2015 conference for financial analysts, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst declared victory in commoditizing the enterprise OS market into RHEL and Windows Server, while outlining Red Hat’s intentions to do the same thing to the (then) emerging PaaS layer with OpenShift.

The closing guest speaker during the Red Hat keynote address at the 2019 summit was Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella, who announced Azure Red Hat OpenShift. While it might still be premature to declare victory in fulfilling that aspirational objective from 2015, it certainly can be said that Red Hat has made significant progress in a short period of time.

RHEL and OpenShift represent the curation pillars for open upstream community innovations, coupled with Red Hat’s decades of open-source and service experience to deliver a capabilities-based advantage to its users. Red Hat represents the virtuous cycle of trusted platform delivery, user-contributed innovations, and Red Hat production-grade delivery of those innovations back to the community via a platform layer that is increasingly easier to deploy.

RHEL 8 delivers additional simplicity and automation capabilities to allow operators to better facilitate developer innovation

Red Hat heralds RHEL 8 as a significant improvement over RHEL 7, best illustrated by the fact that the upgrade process to RHEL 8 constitutes a simple point-and-click operation, after which automation can take over the rest of the process in seamless fashion.The latest release is said to be designed for applications to run across open hybrid cloud environments, addressing the enterprise hybrid reality. Before its official release to market at the summit, there were over 40,000 downloads of RHEL 8 in beta, which underscores pent-up demand for the release and also helped Red Hat to enhance the operating system based on invaluable feedback from those beta users.

TBR attended the Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) Summit, which featured the usual slew of product announcements. This year, the company focused intently on enhancements to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8 and Red Hat OpenShift 4, which are the foundational products for the enterprise. However, more interesting were the general discussions throughout the summit about Red Hat’s business model and cultural uniqueness, which contribute to the company’s success in curating openly sourced IP into enterprise-grade technology products underpinning an ever-increasing share of business software. The value of its people and processes were regularly emphasized by reminding attendees that IBM (NYSE: IBM) is paying $34 billion for a $3.2 billion company that owns no IP.