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Red Hat OpenShift 4.5 Adds Virtualization, Edge Support

Red Hat CTO Chris Wright tells CRN the latest release, unveiled at KubeCon, bridges traditional and cloud-native workloads and extends into IoT environments, delivering true hybrid cloud capabilities to operators and developers.

Red Hat Monday unveiled the latest version of OpenShift, adding to the popular platform the ability to run traditional virtualized workloads alongside cloud-native containerized ones.

OpenShift 4.5, introduced at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU 2020 Virtual, also adds support for edge deployments, push-button deployments into VMware environments, and several features geared toward developers, Chris Wright, Red Hat’s CTO, told CRN.

OpenShift Virtualization is the showstopper, enabling co-existence between legacy and cloud-native apps using the KubeVirt open- source project that runs VMs side by side with containers. OpenShift Virtualization relies on hardware capabilities only accessible in a bare-metal deployment, Wright said.

[Related: Red Hat Summit: Linux Is The Foundation, OpenShift The Future]

Further enhancing harmony with the virtualized world is a new feature for push-button VMware integration, Wright said.

“OpenShift 4.5 will have full-stack automation for deploying to vSphere environments,” Wright said.

Previously, deploying OpenShift on VMware required substantial work for an administrator that Red Hat has now entirely automated.

“It’s really an acknowledgement that we have shared customers [with VMware],” Wright said.

On the edge computing side, OpenShift 4.5 introduces an architecture allowing deployment to only a three-node cluster. That eases running containerized apps on devices in the field, where power and space are typically constraints.

But a three-node minimum is just a first step to supporting the Internet of Things.

“The enterprise is looking at edge use cases,” Wright said. “But they typically aren’t looking at a single edge deployment. It’s usually a collection.”

That requires managing multiple small clusters, which is now possible on OpenShift with general availability of Red Hat’s Advanced Cluster Management (ACM) feature.

ACM is a reflection of how enterprises are starting to use containers in the way they eventually came to use virtual machines, Wright said.

Hand-crafted, immutable virtual machine images, the norm in the early days of virtualization, eventually gave way to larger numbers of smaller VMs that were increasingly automated. With the maturity of containers, operators are now looking at Kubernetes clusters as a fleet, and they want to build and life-cycle those clusters in much the same way.

“That’s a big part of what ACM is bringing,” Wright said. Cluster management will “help evolve how people are using Kubernetes.”

Virtualization, push-button VMware deployment and cluster management all deliver on one side of Red Hat’s vision for the product—operator-focused content.

The flip side focuses on empowering the developer, Wright said.

On that front, Red Hat is introducing in OpenShift 4.5 tools largely associated with its CodeReady Workspaces environment. Those include a new command line tool allowing Git-style interactions with Kubernetes, Helm 3 support, and support of the Tekton project for standardizing CI/CD pipelines to deliver the OpenShift Pipeline.

All the new capabilities are in line with Red Hat’s overarching vision for developing its platform as a truly agnostic hybrid cloud offering, Wright said. They highlight “what OpenShift is trying to do different from what any other Kubernetes distribution is trying to do.”

Competing Kubernetes platforms, especially from the public cloud giants, either have no hybrid posture, or one that’s really biased toward a specific cloud.

But hybrid means maximizing flexibility and choice for the customer, Wright said.

By offering virtualization on bare-metal, extending edge deployments, and spanning clusters across multiple clouds—both public and in data centers—with a common platform, developers are truly freed to focus on just writing code, he said.

The new features “really bring to the forefront we’re 100 percent focused on our open hybrid cloud destination,” Wright told CRN. “We’re always going to be improving those areas.”

Since Red Hat joined IBM more than a year ago, that vision of neutrality has maintained, even as the open-source giant looks to scale enterprise sales and services by leveraging Big Blue’s massive market reach.

The Advanced Cluster Management feature illustrates the unique relationship, as IBM initially worked on the project, but later transferred 200 of its engineers to Red Hat to ensure that product was developed as a truly cloud-agnostic solution.

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