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Introduction

Getting to a software-defined infrastructure is not easy, or quick. That much was clear as the layered world of operating systems, virtual machines, containers and control planes for end-to-end hybrid cloud workloads was examined in detail at the Red Hat Summit 2015 in Boston (June 23-26, 2015). The work can be done, by developers/programmers at customer sites and cloud service provider sites – but it must be easy to use – and provide consistent interfaces that make it easier – and not harder – to build hybrid clouds.

Clearly, all of the building blocks must be in place to support the emerging computing environment for Cloud, Big Data/Analytics, Mobility, Social Media, and the Internet of Things (IoT). For Red Hat, all will be factors in spurring growth in demand for Red Hat operating environments and middleware – and all of its software is offered via subscription. While other companies are phasing in subscription-model pricing, Red Hat has already done so, across-the-board, and is finding growth and profitability.

Red Hat sees a big opportunity now – citing a $68 billion+ total available market (TAM) open to it by 2020. Much of the new opportunity is in the Big Data Analytics, Mobility, and IoT/sensor-based data areas, leveraging its open-source Linux operating environments and open-source middleware. The company sees itself growing as the overall “pie” grows, given its large share of the open-source Linux operating-environment market, and its position in open-source middleware.

A Buy-and-Build Approach to Growth

To grow faster, Red Hat has made a number of acquisitions in recent years, generally of small, focused companies. Having reached the threshold of being a $2 billion company in 2015, it has done this through a buy-or-build approach to adding functionality to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7. Some technology was acquired (e.g. Red Hat CloudForms, FeedHenry), while much of it was built via open-source collaboration, and with partnerships. Red Hat has taken up the challenge of supplying an open-source computing environment that addresses the full range of workloads, from enterprise backend “systems of record” to developer “systems of innovation” environments.

During a day-long analyst briefing at the Red Hat Summit, Red Hat executives talked openly about the company’s strategy to reach $10 billion in coming years, based on the overall size of the open-source software ecosystem—and increasing demand for OpenStack and associated open-source management software.

Customers will approach this task, each in their own way – but they will need software and development tools to deploy next-generation workloads on the new data center infrastructure. As datacenters change their infrastructure to support hybrid cloud workloads, each layer has become vital to the ultimate software-defined infrastructure solution. On-stage demonstrations and featured videos showed Red Hat customer deployments, including Uber, FICO, and Peavy Guitar.

Driving the Next Wave of Applications

Having addressed enterprise customer demands for availability and security in previous releases, the core Red Hat Enterprise Linux, next in Release 7.2, will build on those things, while enhancing virtualization/containerization, security and networking to better support Mobility, Big Data/Analytics, Cloud and Social Media – all of which are driving the next wave of applications and DevOps for enterprise software.

At Red Hat Summit 2015, the company released Red Hat Atomic Enterprise platform for general distribution, which includes Red Hat middleware for dynamic cloud computing and software-defined infrastructure (SDI). Red Hat, based in Raleigh, N.C., announced a variety of capabilities for its platform, including the operating system and middleware—along with a number of partnerships to develop technology. Specifically, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) now supports:

  • Docker and Kubernetes containers for Cloud Computing;
  • In-memory computing via SAP HANA and other technologies;
  • End-to-end mobility applications – leveraging the new mobile technology platform that is based on technology that Red Hat gained from its acquisition of the FeedHenry company; combined with Red Hat JBoss middleware and Red Hat’s OpenShift middleware portfolio – soon to be released in OpenShift v3.
  • Sensor data coming from the Internet of Things (IoT), which can be analyzed in near-real-time, using partner analytics software to change business outcomes. This means that Red Hat can expand the universe of applications and workload that its open-source software addresses – and that customers can leverage for new IoT-based workloads (e.g., monitoring highway traffic for congestion, watching chemical processes for changes in temperature; reporting changing weather conditions to airports).

Containers, Containers, Containers

“Containers” was the most noticeable theme at the Red Hat Summit, because of containers’ role in deploying bespoke application resources in a lightweight form, rapidly and efficiently. In a virtualized world, container technology increases the efficiency of resource utilization– while reducing overall system overhead and easing application deployment and portability across the datacenter. Now that virtualization is the stepping-stone to cloud computing, containers will play an important role in making Cloud Computing more efficient, and easier to control and manage.

Red Hat’s support for the Docker container technology – and its more recent support for Kubernetes container orchestration – aligns it with a number of leading technologies for cloud computing. Certainly, “containers” have been used before for workload isolation, VM density, and workload delivery – most famously in Unix systems (e.g. IBM, and Oracle/Sun Unix systems). Now, leveraging Linux and open-source software, this new generation of containers is running across all types of Linux hardware platforms via open-source orchestration and management. This makes a powerful idea more widely adopted in enterprise and cloud data centers.

Working Partnerships

Red Hat, working directly with systems vendors, will also help to emphasize its role as a foundation provider for enterprise and cloud computing. At Red Hat Summit, the company announced a number of specific technology projects with systems partners — including Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, NetApp, Samsung and others to build out the Red Hat and Open Stack ecosystems through collaborative open-source projects and one-on-one partnerships with systems vendors.

End-to-End Mobility Applications for Hybrid Clouds

The strategic alliance with Samsung Electronics America will aim to deliver mobile solutions that enable the rapid development and integration of existing and new enterprise applications. This comes as part of the mobility-enablement move for organizations that are heading towards a mobile-first strategy.

The companies – Red Hat and Samsung Electronics America — will jointly develop a series of new, industry-specific mobile business applications, such as field and customer service, inventory management and business intelligence. These applications will run on the Red Hat infrastructure and optimized for Samsung devices.

Key Takeaways from Red Hat Summit

This Red Hat Summit conference was notable for its steady stream of product updates and extended partnerships. It is now clear that what was once a startup company in the 1990s has matured into the next phase – facing the daunting requirement of providing high levels of availability, scalability, performance and security that were once expected of Unix systems. That will “go without saying” because, in many cases, scalable (via scale-out) Linux workloads are directly replacing the scale-up workloads of aging Unix servers.

Neuralytix believes that middleware will play an increasingly important role for the next wave of growth at Red Hat. Red Hat is focusing on next-generation infrastructure build-outs, both in enterprise datacenters and in cloud services datacenters. These two groups – both focused on datacenter infrastructure — share a common set of requirements for performance and speed-to-market. However, they differ in that enterprises have substantial investments in older technologies that must link to the new cloud platforms via hybrid cloud software. On the other hand, cloud service providers are more likely to be building green-field infrastructure — and to have substantial in-house development to create customer applications.

To address both constituencies, Red Hat is rightly enlisting the partnership of large systems companies to produce end-to-end software solutions more quickly – and with the right levels of quality of service (QoS), availability and security for next-generation workloads.