If a new class of cloud-native, mobile-ready business applications is ever to take hold of enterprises as their creators promised years ago, the platforms on which they run need to be fully operational.

Amazon Web Services is fully operational. And it’s with that fact in mind that Red Hat today began delivering OpenShift Dedicated as a new, Amazon-based option for deploying its open source Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) applications platform, with the aid of Google’s Kubernetes.

That’s a lot of terms thrown at you at once, which isn’t really fair, so I’ll start again: If you want to try building your own cloud-native apps around this new containerization technology you’ve been reading about, now there’s a way to begin without disturbing the software your organization already has in place.

“Some enterprises want efficiency in time to market — their ops team doesn’t have the necessary experience, skills or authorization to set their own environment,” Ashesh Badani, Red Hat’s OpenShift vice president, told CMSWire. “Others want to take advantage of Red Hat’s expertise in managing instances at scale while they are focused on their applications.

“Additionally, others like that OpenShift Dedicated will run on public cloud and take advantage of the scale and agility there, while still being in control of their applications.”

Instant Docker

Earlier this year, Red Hat implemented a major overhaul to its OpenShift platform for version 3, to take advantage of containerization technology — so major, in fact, that some organizations are still using version 2 and may not be ready or even eager to switch.

Today, OpenShift 3.1 is the quintessential container platform. If you were to design a PaaS from scratch around Docker, exactly as Docker intended, you’d wind up with something almost indistinguishable from OpenShift 3.

Kubernetes is an orchestrator for applications running on container platforms that use Docker. With OpenShift 3, Red Hat effectively abandoned the orchestration model it was using before and embraced Kubernetes.

So think of OpenShift as the platform on which applications are built and tested, and which provides those applications with the languages they need to run (OpenShift supports Java, Node.js, Perl, PHP, Python and Ruby, and can be expanded to support others via frameworks). Then think of Kubernetes as the system that makes these processes work simultaneously, and keeps them in balance.

Put another way, OpenShift is the composer and Kubernetes is the conductor. In that analogy, Docker can be the music.

Badani reminded us that OpenShift aims to maintain the privacy and security of organizations’ applications, while giving them the same type of arbitrated control they would expect when deploying OpenShift on-premise. OpenShift, you may recall, came to prominence as Red Hat’s PaaS platform for its own version of OpenStack — whose core customers are organizations seeking hybrid deployments.

Which makes the announcement of OpenShift Dedicated important for another reason: Red Hat is marketing its PaaS platform now on its own merits, aiming to go toe-to-toe (assuming PaaS platforms have toes) against Cloud Foundry, its firmly entrenched competition.

As such, said Badani, OpenShift Dedicated “could be an alternative to [organizations’] on-premise deployment and be run side by side, without them worrying about dealing with updates and security on their own infrastructure, where they believe they don't have a full set of core competencies.”

Who Would Use This?

Badani foresees a few possible use cases, including constructing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications for a worldwide organization, each of whose geographies may occupy differing hybrid cloud footprints.

The India division of a company, for example, may need to run exactly the same SaaS app as the North America division, although both have separate customer bases and both may utilize on-premise capacity differently (one country may have a greater public-to-private cloud ratio).

A university might want to give students a platform for building their own applications in a safe, self-service environment, where they’re capable of requesting the resources they need on-demand, though they’re still administered through on-premise IT staff.

Organizations that want to begin moving toward DevOps processes (where software developers and sysadmins share skills) may want to start building cooperative working environments for themselves, on a platform with minimum startup time and minimum risk. But, as Badani pointed out, they’d still want modern applications such as auto-scaling, self-healing, and enterprise-class authentication.

“With OpenShift Enterprise and OpenShift Dedicated,” said Badani, “Red Hat allows customers to have a hybrid container platform footprint, where they can move workloads based on their risk profile between public and private clouds. In fact, the OpenShift Dedicated early access program was oversubscribed, indicating enterprises’ interest in consuming a managed container application platform in the public cloud.”

Red Hat’s latest move comes just over a month after its monumental resource sharing deal with Microsoft, in which Azure becomes the preferred cloud deployment platform for Red Hat OpenStack. For now, the OpenShift Dedicated option is limited to Amazon’s cloud, although there’s no indication at this point that it cannot be expanded to others in the future.

OpenShift Dedicated is generally available from Red Hat, beginning Tuesday. The basic package includes 100 GB of persistent, solid-state storage, plus access through VPN and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud.

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