The message about the status of Red Hat’s independence now that it’s owned by IBM couldn’t have been clearer at this week’s Red Hat Virtual Summit. Former Red Hat president and chief executive officer Jim Whitehurst, now president of IBM, laid it on the line.
“The only way we feel we can confidently leverage the scale of IBM to help ensure that the world ends up with a hybrid horizontal choice platform is to ensure that Red Hat can work with IBM competitors,” he said. “Red Hat has to stand alone on its own so it can work with competitors of IBM, to ensure that that platform is neutral, it’s available to anyone, that any customer anywhere can feel comfortable if they’re working with Red Hat, they can work with whoever else they want, without any type of conflict. And IBM supports that but recognizes we have to leave that separate in order to ensure its success.”
Yet despite that, there are synergies to be had by working together, noted Claude Reeves, country manager for Canada at Red Hat. There are, he said, many benefits for IBM channel partners who onboard with the Red Hat program as well, and to that end, Red Hat is working with distribution partners like Arrow to help IBM channel partners see the value of Red Hat.
“I think the maturity of our message at Summit in terms of what we can offer to our customers is where we are with the channel as well,” he explained, “So I feel we’re reaching a level of maturity where we really are in a better position to help our channel partners have the right conversations. I think we’re now in a position where the capabilities we’re bringing to the table are really allowing our partners to focus much more on the business side, much more on the outcome and value proposition side and less on the technology side. We look at all the operators and things inside of OpenShift easing the installation, easing the rollout of the solution. Well, that allows our partners to build value on top of that, as opposed to being in the weeds and the bits and bytes.”
One of Red Hat’s new products arrived from IBM, which open sourced one of its own projects and turned it over to the company. Now known as Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management for Kubernetes, it allows customers and partners to manage Kubernetes clusters across multiple clouds from a single pane of glass. It also provides policy-based governance, risk and compliance controls and allows organizations to automate application deployments using open standards. It will be available in mid-summer 2020, with a technology preview planned for this month for OpenShift Container Platform customers.
Despite the spectre of COVID-19 that forced the company to switch from an in-person event to a virtual one, Summit offered several other product and service announcements (though it cut down on numbers, concentrating on solutions keeping customers afloat in trying times), a good mix of sessions, and ways for attendees and Red Hatters to interact virtually. More than 80,000 people worldwide tuned in, many of whom commented in chats that they were unable to attend in-person Summits and were grateful for the online version.
“That’s a big thing,” said Reeves. “I think it’s a bit of a game-changer. It’s not going to make us back away from the physical Summit, but I definitely think there’s some food for thought here. as we as we look to the future.”
Summit saw the release of OpenShift 4.4, based on Kubernetes 1.17. It includes improvements in core platform capabilities and some new tools such as the descheduler that lets admins re-balance the distribution of workloads (Pods) for better efficiency and utilization, the ingress controller, and networking and storage enhancements.
OpenShift also saw the introduction of OpenShift virtualization, which allows standard VM-based workloads to Kubernetes. It provides a consistent development experience across virtual machines, containers, and serverless functions, and includes full support for Windows VMs. It is available now in a technology preview. General availability is planned for later this year.
The open source Fedora community (sponsored by Red Hat) announced the general availability of Fedora 32, with a batch of new features including updates to Fedora Workstation and a new computational neuroscience lab image designed to encourage those working in science to use open source software. It also improves its support for ARM-based systems.
Finally, Red Hat announced that it is offering free online training courses in its technologies, as well as providing free access to some normally paid courses for a limited time. The most recent addition, online Introduction to OpenShift Applications course, will be no cost until June 30, 2020.