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A natural reaction to the ever-growing complexity of enterprise IT is the desire for a consistent management strategy and architecture, especially as infrastructure goes through the metamorphosis it's in right now. Over the last few years, the traditional footprint of physical has expanded to include virtual. And as customers are now looking to deploy on both private and public clouds, the convergence of the four technology footprints is happening right now. This will no longer be a nice to have, but table stakes for CIOs and IT managers if they want to achieve consistency in 2015.

Each of these four footprints -- bare metal, virtual machines, private clouds, and public clouds – are better served to particular apps, and have traditionally been deployed according to specific needs. But the walls between these footprints are breaking down. While IT managers have always focused on security and control of bare metal systems, as the footprints build out to virtual, private, and public cloud, they will want the same level of security, control and management.

This consolidation will no doubt keep CIOs and their teams up at night throughout the year. They'll be looking closely at ways to create an infrastructure that helps manage the single entity that will result from the four footprints coming together. Those four footprints will not only need to be used as one, secure as one, managed as one, and interactive as one; they'll ultimately need to feel as one. This single entity can be thought of as a shared resource pool that offers compute, storage, and network services to apps with different sizes, shapes, and life cycles, and will need to be based on a solid platform. From here, the teams must build consistent ways to manage applications, regardless of which one of the four footprints they may be running.

Fortunately, over the past several months, we've seen new solutions begin to blossom within the enterprise that offer the ability to create and maintain the consistency that is so necessary to manage modern datacenters. Specifically, the emergence of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) tools, including OpenShift by Red Hat and Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, has placed this ability in the hands of enterprises. The former offers developers the ability to deliver applications faster, while the latter provides an infrastructure through which everything can work together. Both enable IT as well as developers to deliver and manage applications and platforms across consistent environments. These tools offer opportunities for businesses across different vertical markets as CIOs continue to better understand their benefits, and the help they provide in achieving the infrastructure that is so necessary to today's operating environments.

Another exciting technology, Linux containers, both augment and depend upon the consistency of the operating system. That consistency will be critical from a standalone container host (i.e. Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host), to an IaaS (i.e. OpenStack), to a PaaS (i.e. OpenShift), all the way out to the public cloud. Thanks to the portability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux containers, developers can easily move applications from one of the four footprints to another, while still maintaining the application consistency that app developers and ISVs require. This helps further bridge the gap that exists between public clouds and VMs, for example.

But, containers are not all the same, what's inside counts; you still need a solid platform upon which Linux containers can run. The flexibility of Linux containers, in that the consistency Linux containers give to the application, are even more relevant in platforms such as OpenShift and OpenStack. Containers in and of themselves are a piece of the solution, but not necessarily the entire solution.

Of course, none of these solutions would be possible without open source software itself. That's the lynchpin that holds everything together. For our customer base, having Red Hat Enterprise Linux as a solid foundation is the basis for giving consistency across physical, virtual, private and public cloud.

And finally, how all of these innovative open source projects are delivered as enterprise solutions is a key aspect of what CIOs care about. Are the solutions tested and certified? Are they supported? Do they have an enterprise lifecycle? Red Hat has embraced this approach for the past 13 years, and the results from our customers speak volumes.

Providing enterprises with solutions that help bring every aspect of their datacenter together is the heart of what open source, and Red Hat, is about. That's a commitment that will become even more critical this year as CIOs and their teams grapple with the ramifications derived from the consolidation that will inevitably occur.

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