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While it’s traditional to reflect at the end of a year, I figured I’d be the contrarian and begin 2016 by leaning back as well as looking forward to what the year holds for the OpenShift team and Red Hat. This year already seems to be delivering a lot of surprises for all of us in technology which will make for interesting times. Autonomous cars or fewer cars? Maybe. Foldable smartphone? Might happen. Experience VR for under $100? Almost upon us. Beating Apple with a smarter watch? The markets are not so sure.

The year that was

Back to OpenShift, 2015 was an exciting year for us. We launched Docker container and Kubernetes based OpenShift Enterprise (versions 3 and 3.1) which were very favorably reviewed as well as closed out last year with the availability of our OpenShift Dedicated public cloud offering. At Red Hat Summit, we saw numerous presentations from our customers and we were proud to see several win Red Hat Innovation awards! We announced an exciting partnership with Microsoft that we anticipate will be very beneficial to our joint customers and partners as we introduce interoperability between OpenShift and Azure. This partnership will also enable us to support running .NET containers in OpenShift and Red Hat environments. Our OpenShift Commons community expanded to more than 150 members and spans the range of companies across industries and includes universities and public sector organizations such as NASA, Accenture and Wipro.

Disruption around the corner...

But in 2015 we also found ourselves in countless conversations around the world with large and small companies all asking some variant of “Is disruption the new norm?”, and wondering how they would prepare for it. Arguably the PaaS market itself has transformed with the popularity of containers/Docker and Kubernetes technology. We’ve chosen to embrace and participate in it and found our customers to be widely accepting of it. At its very core, OpenShift is a platform for delivering applications and services to continue innovating and differentiating yourself in the marketplace. We have designed our platform to support established stateful applications as well as new cloud native stateless applications. We did this while adopting Docker container format and runtime and Kubernetes orchestration for web scale and performance. All of this is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux while adding new services from the JBoss portfolio.

Innovation and disruption was all the rage. Some thought it was overhyped and newsmakers like Uber really weren't all that disruptive. Regardless, the world is being rapidly transformed by software and automation. We spend more time on our phones than watching TV and on our phones while watching TV. We leave behind a significant data trail in even mundane activities like browsing for a book or ordering coffee.

Many still wonder how they can best react to these innovations and harness the potential of containers. Some like GM have invested in the change. Others have consolidated as technology startups impacted market dynamics. A few have encouraged and embraced new innovations like Bitcoin and Blockchain. We often adopt the lens of established companies to understand what unicorns are doing to existing markets and enable incumbents and new entrants to thrive in a new world.

...and it sounds like “the Uber of…”

Although it may be cliched to use Uber as an analogy, it’s now well understood so it suits our purpose. For the sake of simplicity, let’s classify market players in three categories: 1) Aspire to be an Uber, 2) Apply the Uber model, and 3) Don’t want to be Uber’ed. OpenShift offers something for each of these categories.

1) Aspire to be an Uber: Startups incessantly pitch their new ideas as “the Uber of…” and innovation pockets or new businesses within large companies are working hard and fast to enter new markets or provide new services to their customers. The need is for a quicker launch experience with the ability to scale and expand as demand increases for what they build. For customers with these requirements, we provide OpenShift Dedicated and OpenShift Online. Both of these take advantage of the underlying economics and scale of the public cloud while being fully managed by Red Hat to minimize the operational burden. Developers focus on the services they build and call on APIs as needed while we manage, update and make more secure those applications. OpenShift Online is the full shared multi-tenant public cloud experience while OpenShift Dedicated provides specific resources to each customer. Over time, I believe that OpenShift Dedicated will run on most public clouds.

2) Apply the Uber model: Didi Kuaidi in China and Ola Cabs in India have applied the Uber model to their countries and become transportation leaders while meeting regional requirements. Similarly, cloud service providers around the world may need to review their product portfolios as regulations, governance and privacy laws may change. For companies that require running application workloads in a private cloud environment, we offer OpenShift Enterprise and OpenShift Dedicated. Service providers like T-Systems in Germany have opted to offer a PaaS based on OpenShift Enterprise to their European customers. Others have expressed interest in reselling OpenShift Dedicated to their customers and work with us to promote OpenShift Dedicated.

3) Avoid being Uber’ed: Startups are getting funded to disrupt behavior and economics in every industry from financial services to retailing to enterprise IT. Established companies want to become more agile in delivering applications and services with cloud/SaaS and respond more effectively to their customers’ needs. They want flexibility in the underlying infrastructure while taking advantage of their existing IT investments. We have worked with many established companies like Amadeus, FICO and CA who have adopted OpenShift Enterprise to deliver innovative new services and benefit from private cloud scale while not getting locked in. In many cases, OpenShift Enterprise deployed in a private data center or public cloud can become the foundation for their SaaS offering.

 

The year that lies ahead

In 2016, we are working to make OpenShift Dedicated available on multiple public clouds. Expect us to continue expanding application & data services from within our portfolio as well as our partners. Another work in progress is the availability of our multi-tenant offering OpenShift Online in the public cloud based on our v3 platform supporting Docker containers and Kubernetes technology. Enhancements for OpenShift Enterprise around service catalog, build & deployment automation, CI/CD, Mobile services, cluster scaling, storage and more are also in the works. I encourage you to track the progress here and provide your input.

The OpenShift mission has evolved to reflect the transformation in our industry. Our goal remains to enable agility in a rapidly changing world. To stay updated, follow us @asheshbadani and @openshift. And if you haven’t already, join our community at OpenShift Commons.