IBM fuses software with Red Hat to launch hybrid-cloud juggernaut

IBM fuses software with Red Hat to launch hybrid-cloud juggernaut

IBM is starting a potentially huge run at hybrid cloud by tying more than 100 of its products to the Red Hat OpenShift platform

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IBM has wasted no time aligning its own software with its newly acquired Red Hat technoloogy,saying its portfolio would be transformed to work cloud natively and augmented to run on Red Hat’s OpenShift platform.

Big Blue in July finalised its $34 billion purchase of Red Hat and says it will use the Linux powerhouse's open-source know-how and Linux expertise to grow larger scale hybrid-cloud customer projects and to create a web of partnerships to simplify carrying them out.

The effort has started with IBM bundling Red Hat’s Kubernetes-based OpenShift Container Platform with more than 100 IBM products in what it calls Cloud Paks. Open Shift lets enterprise customers deploy and manage containers on their choice of infrastructure of choice, be it private or public clouds, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Alibaba and IBM Cloud.

The prepackaged Cloud Paks include a secured Kubernetes container and containerised IBM middleware designed to let customers quickly spin-up enterprise-ready containers, the company said.

Five Cloud Paks exist today: Cloud Pak for Data, Application, Integration, Automation and Multicloud Management. The Paks will ultimately include IBM’s DB2, WebSphere, API Connect, Watson Studio, Cognos Analytics and more.

In addition, IBM said it will bring the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform over to IBM Z mainframes and IBM LinuxONE. Together these two platforms power about 30 billion transactions a day globally, IBM said.

Some of the goals here are to increase container density and help customers build containerised applications that can scale vertically and horizontally.

“The vision is for OpenShift-enabled IBM software to become the foundational building blocks clients can use to transform their organisations and build across hybrid, multi-cloud environments,” Hillery Hunter, VP & CTO IBM Cloud said in an IBM blog about the announcement.

OpenShift is the underlying Kubernetes and Container orchestration layer that supports the containerised software, she wrote, and placing the Cloud Paks atop Red Hat OpenShift gives IBM a broad reach immediately.

"OpenShift is also where the common services such as logging, metering, and security that IBM Cloud Paks leverage let businesses effectively manage and understand their workloads,” Hunter stated.

Analysts said the moves were expected but still extremely important for the company to ensure this acquisition is successful.

“We expect IBM and Red Hat will do the obvious stuff first, and that’s what this mostly is,” said Lee Doyle, principal analyst at Doyle Research. "The challenge will be getting deeper integrations and taking the technology to the next level. What they do in the next six months to a year will be critical.”

Over the last few years IBM has been evolving its strategy to major on-cloud computing and cognitive computing. Its argument against cloud providers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud is that only 20 percent of enterprise workloads have so far moved to the cloud – the easy 20 per cent.

The rest are the difficult 80 percent of workloads that are complex, legacy applications, often mainframe based, that have run banking and big business for decades, wrote David Terrar, executive advisor for Bloor Research. "How do you transform those?"

That background gives IBM enterprise expertise and customer relationships competitors don't.

“IBM has been talking hybrid cloud and multi-cloud to these customers for a while, and the Red Hat move is like an injection of steroids to the strategy," Terrar wrote.

"When you add in its automation and cognitive positioning with Watson, and the real-world success with enterprise-grade blockchain implementations like TradeLens and the Food Trust network, I’d argue that IBM is positioning itself as the ‘Enterprise Cloud Company’.”

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