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Red Hat OpenShift tie-ups target hybrid cloud portability

Partnerships with major cloud providers help position Red Hat OpenShift as a hybrid cloud management platform that customers hope can solve lock-in troubles.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Red Hat is betting that hybrid cloud is the future of IT, and OpenShift is the thread to stitch the disparate pieces together.

Red Hat and Microsoft plan to offer a jointly managed service to run OpenShift on the Azure public cloud, available in preview within the coming months. Attendees at the Red Hat Summit 2018 here this week said they were surprised and eager to hear more about the service.

"Right now, we're mainly working with AWS, so this might help us start to look at maybe doing more with Azure," said Chris Simmons, senior staff IT specialist at Arris International in Atlanta.

The new service will enable customers to run and manage Kubernetes Pods across both on-premises infrastructure and the Azure public cloud using Red Hat OpenShift. Red Hat and Microsoft will jointly sell and support the service, which will run both Red Hat Enterprise Linux containers and Windows Server Containers.

The managed service will compete more directly with other cloud-based managed Kubernetes services, such as Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS) and Microsoft's own Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). Red Hat may look to partner with other providers to extend OpenShift across other cloud platforms, said Edwin Yuen, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.

"I think that the unique features of OpenShift for Azure, including the support and sales model, would appeal specifically to joint Microsoft/Red Hat customers," Yuen said. "General customers looking for a [Kubernetes] service would still consider OpenShift for Azure, but it will be just one option alongside AKS and any other future services."

Edwin Yuen, Enterprise Strategy GroupEdwin Yuen

Red Hat also extended its long-term partnership with IBM this week to allow customers to extend the company's IBM Cloud Private platform and middleware offerings to the OpenShift Container Platform.

"Red Hat is really trying to set up OpenShift as the preferred application platform and container management platform," Yuen said. "For companies working with OpenShift, they have an easy, preferred option to deploy on Azure and on IBM Cloud Private."

These Red Hat OpenShift partnerships reflect the company's vision to provide a new level of openness to hybrid cloud management, said Red Hat executive VP Paul Cormier.

Red Hat is really trying to set up OpenShift as the preferred application platform and container management platform.
Edwin Yuenanalyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

"Today there's tremendous innovation in the public cloud, but it's been driven by a handful of massive companies," he said. "[Customers] can't afford the best innovation at the cost of a siloed operating environment."

This sentiment resonated with some customers who said they hoped Red Hat's interest in working with multiple providers might offer an approach to help alleviate cloud lock-in problems.

"I like Red Hat's mentality of openness and spreading that out to the cloud," said Dale Henries, senior application developer at Samaritan's Purse, an international humanitarian organization based in Boone, N.C. "We've experienced a lot of vendor lock-in. From the CEO down now, there's a big push for the ability to move apps around and to not allow any vendor to have the keys to turn it off."

Jan Stafford, features writer, contributed to this report.

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