Red Hat revamps OpenShift Online for containers

Red Hat revamps OpenShift Online for containers
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The newest version of Red Hat's PaaS for business uses the container-centric revamp of OpenShift for easier app deployment and management

OpenShift Online, Red Hat's hosted open source PaaS solution, is getting a container-powered revamp.

Specifically, it'll be upgraded to run Red Hat's OpenShift 3, which reworks the platform around container technology. This constitutes another step, if a small one, toward Red Hat's vision for an open source-powered enterprise hybrid cloud.

OpenShift 3, released last year and reviewed by InfoWorld's Martin Heller, ditched the "cartridges" and "gears" metaphors used in earlier versions of OpenShift for app management and replaced them with Docker and Kubernetes, both of which enjoy large followings outside of Red Hat and OpenShift. But OpenShift kept the developer-centric workflow, a key reason for its initial appeal.

The new OpenShift Online, currently only in a developer preview, provides OpenShift 3's features and workflow in what amounts to a multitenant public cloud. Many OpenShift 3 features will be deployed as complements to the new environment -- for example, using Kubernetes as an automatic traffic-scaling system, so admins can focus on the next revision of code rather than on tweaking the system to run well.

With all incarnations of OpenShift, new and old, Red Hat has been trying to avoid repeating the failures of previous enterprise PaaS options, many of which were purely public cloud offerings. Heroku, now a Salesforce property, was one of the first success stories in that vein, but it held on by being a first mover with a loyal audience. CloudBees tried to distinguish itself with a focus on hosting Java and enterprise Jenkins, but it closed its doors to focus on the latter.

By contrast, Red Hat wants OpenShift to be a true hybrid PaaS for businesses that can be consumed in several manners: the multitenant public cloud of OpenShift Online, the managed service offering of OpenShift Dedicated, or the on-premises OpenShift Enterprise.

Red Hat also wants to stand out by having strong hybrid interoperability in each scenario, courtesy of the container tech on which Red Hat has been focusing its product line. OpenShift has always been part of the overall do-it-yourself hybrid cloud plan, but it was originally devised as an alternative to VMware vSphere: still strongly centered on VMs and legacy technologies like JBoss. With containers, the theory is that Red Hat and its customers won't have to reinvent as many wheels when it comes to deploying and managing apps in a hybrid scenario.

Because the changes to OpenShift are so radical, Red Hat's plan for evolving OpenShift Online is to run both the old and new OpenShift Online platforms side by side for a time, allowing those on the previous incarnation of the service to migrate to the new one. Red Hat has published general plans for how OpenShift 2 will be gradually retired in favor of 3.

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