Red Hat fast-tracks Docker apps for Enterprise Linux

Mutual admiration: Red Hat extends certification program to include Docker apps, and Docker expands support for RHEL 7

Red Hat's application certification program is nominally about ensuring that third-party applications and app platforms run reliably on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

The newest candidate for certification, though, isn't an application per se. Rather, it's an application technology that stormed the Linux world and quickly became a major part of its landscape: containerization, which allows apps to be packaged to run almost anywhere with minimal muss or fuss.

Red Hat plans to offer certification for containerized applications that run on container hosts approved by Red Hat; the as-yet-unreleased Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 and Red Hat OpenShift will be two such hosts. As for the containers, the first supported format will be none other than Docker.

Red Hat choosing Docker shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's been following Docker's development. Docker has lionized the way applications can be containerized, and Red Hat has been strengthening its support of Docker with each incremental revision. RHEL 7, when it's finalized, is meant to have support for containers as a major cornerstone of the OS.

Red Hat Container Certification, as the new certification program is called, is functionally similar to the way Red Hat certifies other applications. The process involves having ISVs take a supplied RHEL image, run the containerized app on it, then run Red Hat's existing battery of app certification tests on the resulting image. There's no separate charge for certification.

A number of existing Red Hat ISVs -- MongoDB, for instance -- have already been brought on board to beta-test the program and shake out possible issues before the certification program is broadened to allow more general access.

Marty Wesley, senior product marketing manager at Red Hat, noted that one of the big advantages to containerization is it allows an organization to enable what he described as "non-threatening PaaS," or a form of PaaS where the traditional job of the IT ops teams -- hardware and OS support -- isn't eclipsed by the presence of PaaS. A container system like Docker, he explained, "enables traditional IT shops to head toward a devops model. IT operations still manage the underlying OS [in this case, Red Hat Enterprise Linux] and the hardware," he said. "They worry about all the traditional things they're traditionally worried about. Developers can develop apps, package them, deliver them to the production environment, and know that the runtime environment is going to be consistent. The ops guys still get to control the underlying infrastructure, and dev can deliver containers that sit on top of that underlying infrastructure."

Container certification is also a win for ISVs because "one of the biggest costs [for an ISV] is supporting a variety of environments," according to Wesley. The container approach allows an ISV to have a consistent runtime in the customer's space, all the time.

The timing of this announcement couldn't be better, as Docker itself just announced the 0.9 release of its eponymous product. The new release features execution drivers, which allow Docker to make use of various isolation tools -- from chroot up through BSD jails, Solaris Zones, OpenVZ and so on -- and a new container executionlibrary, written in Go. The 0.10 release is touted as a candidate for a full-blown 1.0 release, but given the rate of Docker's adoption in production -- by major players like Red Hat -- we might well be at the de facto 1.0 stage by now.

This story, "Red Hat fast-tracks Docker apps for Enterprise Linux," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.