New container technologies will only gain traction if they're available via products that don't require a major commitment to use. Which helps explain Red Hat's latest changes to OpenShift.
Today Red Hat announced a slew of new pricing structures and support levels for its OpenShift containers-as-a-service offering. The options are designed to entice prospective container users -- in organizations big and small -- into building private and hybrid clouds with OpenShift.
Red Hat aims to lower the practical threshold of entry for using OpenShift container technology -- but not by offering products that omit any code from the full-blown version of OpenShift. Instead, the differences in price between the versions are about licensing terms.
At the entry-level tier is Red Hat OpenShift Container Local, available at no cost but only for use on individual, non-production machines. Red Hat says Local is designed to appeal to the developer who wants to get started on a local machine -- e.g., their own development notebook -- without having to set up and manage an instance in a cloud. It's meant to have the same appeal as the end-user editions of Docker for Windows and MacOS, which are also designed to let developers work with Docker in an environment they're comfortable with and can take with them.
Local is also being made available as part of Red Hat's general push to offer free resources to developers (including Red Hat Enterprise Linux).
Further up the ladder is Red Hat OpenShift Container Lab, which is cheaper than the cost of the full OpenShift platform and is intended for use in "non-production server environments for development and testing." This version is aimed at those who are creating a private cloud with OpenShift but are daunted by the idea of making too great a commitment early in the process, and also want some support from Red Hat if the need arises.
Red Hat is quick to emphasize that these versions are based on the exact same bits as the full-blown Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform. According to Red Hat, any workload created with Local or Lab can be transitioned as-is to the full product without having to do more than upgrade the licensing. Microsoft devs may see a parallel to the MSDN subscription model, where full-blown editions of all the products in the Microsoft lineup are available to developers for non-production use, but it isn't hard to change to production licenses as needed.
Red Hat has been providing the latest, container-based incarnation of OpenShift across a plethora of editions and environments. By making it available in public clouds like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform (and soon Microsoft Azure), Red Hat wants OpenShift to serve as both the public and private components of a hybrid cloud architecture, with one deployment system for container-based applications across multiple environments, no matter how they're constructed.
This approach will only succeed if there's an OpenShift presence on the private cloud and an inclination by developers to work with it. With Local and Lab, Red Hat aims to put OpenShift into the hands of the developer crowd it's been trying to woo.