The release of Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management for Kubernetes 2.5 came with a major game-changer for Red Hat OpenShift customers: the cluster lifecycle component of Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management is now generally available in a standalone operator called multicluster engine, and it's supported as part of your OpenShift or Red Hat OpenShift Kubernetes Engine subscription. Read on to discover Red Hat's evolution in rising to the challenge of cluster lifecycle management and to learn more about the value the multicluster engine operator can deliver to your organization.

The cluster lifecycle management dilemma

It is without question that one of the greatest challenges in scaling Kubernetes environments is managing the lifecycle of a growing fleet. When new environments materialize left and right to serve new teams, adhere to new boundaries, or span new geographies, it’s easy for cluster resources to sprawl out of control. 

At Red Hat, we’ve heavily invested in automating the OpenShift installation process, supporting installer-provisioned infrastructure for an ever-growing number of providers, and dramatically simplifying the process of creating new self-managed clusters. Over the past few years, we’ve also collaborated with industry partners to create Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings of OpenShift, such as Red Hat OpenShift Service on AWS (ROSA) and Azure Red Hat OpenShift (ARO)

But in commoditizing new cluster creation, we’ve contributed to a challenge our customers face on a daily basis: How do we manage other lifecycle activities for the clusters we create? Particularly for customers whose IT landscape spans multiple infrastructure providers across clouds and data centers, managing credentials, Terraform files and other automation assets to facilitate cluster start/stop, upgrades, or deletion can get pretty unwieldy. 

Enter Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management for Kubernetes

When Red Hat was acquired by IBM in 2019, the IBM team had been working on an open source project called Open Cluster Management that was designed to address these exact challenges. A centralized cluster management solution could drastically improve the lives of those charged with keeping track of Kubernetes clusters across dynamic and growing IT ecosystems.

In light of the benefits it would bring to OpenShift customers and users of other Kubernetes distributions, the Open Cluster Management project was re-homed to Red Hat and developed into Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management for Kubernetes in the downstream. Now a fixture of the Red Hat portfolio, Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management delivers not only the aforementioned cluster lifecycle capabilities, but also robust governance and GitOps platforms that take cross-cluster policy and application management to an entirely new level.

Multicluster engine: A happy medium

With the advent of Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management, our hybrid cloud capabilities were as competitive as they had ever been. Knowing we could deliver advanced cluster management for the lifecycle, policy and application domains, building large OpenShift environments didn’t have to come with a cost of struggling to maintain them. However, there was still a problem: many customers desired a standalone cluster lifecycle management solution.  Organizations in this category are wholly committed to implementing a cluster lifecycle strategy, but are unable to invest the time or resources to properly utilize the other capabilities offered by Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management. 

To best meet the needs of our customers, Red Hat decided to fold the cluster lifecycle capability set into its own offering: multicluster engine. Available as a supported operator on OpenShift 4.8.2 and later, it delivers full lifecycle capabilities for managed OpenShift clusters as well as partial lifecycle management for other Kubernetes distributions. Much like the equivalent component of ACM, multicluster engine provides a management view that’s seamlessly integrated into the OpenShift Web Console. Here’s a peek at what it looks like:

With the release of multicluster engine, we're leveling the playing field for all OpenShift customers. We're empowering teams — more than ever before — to lean into growing ecosystems by:
  • Creating or destroying clusters on demand to help manage resource sprawl

  • Hibernating or resuming managed clusters to optimize infrastructure costs

  • Performing remote upgrades to ensure managed clusters are getting the latest features and fixes

 If you’re an OpenShift customer in search of an elegant cluster lifecycle management solution, head over to the multicluster engine documentation to give it a try today.


About the author

Hey there! I'm Andy Krohg - a golfer, a frolfer, a volleyball player and a videogame slayer. I can also juggle three of pretty much anything that's not on fire and ride a unicycle. Currently focused on all things OpenShift and DevSecOps.

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