IBM closed its $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat last month in something of a muted box-checking celebration. It was something along the lines of ‘yep, it’s done’. Of arguably more interest is news this month of the firm’s first substantial co-alignment of technologies in their new parent and (quite big) child relationship.
Following the trend for pre-built, pre-integrated, stress-tested, compartmentalized technology so widely evidenced by every major IT vendor in the market, IBM has augmented the status of its software portfolio to be cloud-native and optimized it to run on Red Hat OpenShift. Put simply, OpenShift is a technology for programmers to build and orchestrate ‘containers’ i.e. contained chunks of software where all the ‘dependencies’ (libraries, tools, runtime and actual software code) come in one easy-to-microwave box.
The new cloud-native capabilities will be delivered as pre-integrated solutions called IBM Cloud Paks. It’s logical enough branding: Paks, sounds like packs, which are kind of like containers… and they missed the ‘c’ out to make it trendy, obviously.
Organizations are supposed to be able to use the new IBM Cloud Paks to build mission-critical applications once and run them on all leading public clouds, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Alibaba and IBM Cloud — and on private cloud servers too.
What’s in the box?
So what do users (developers) actually get in the box? Sorry, we mean Pak. The IBM-certified containerized software will provide a common operating model and a common set of services. Those ‘common services’ are the things that every developer typically needs to build every kind of enterprise software application and make it suitable for real world deployment.
So, inside the box, programmers will find tools functions like user identity management, security tools, application performance monitoring functions and software logging capabilities (logs allow us to get a granular view on the inside behavior of what an application is doing) — and it’s all presented with a unified ‘dashboard’ view so technical staff can see what’s happening to apps that are deployed across what are often various different clouds.
“Red Hat is unlocking innovation with Linux-based technologies, including containers and Kubernetes, which have become the fundamental building blocks of hybrid cloud environments,” said Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO, Red Hat. “This open hybrid cloud foundation is what enables the vision of any app, anywhere, anytime.”
The first five IBM Cloud Paks include Cloud Pak for Data: to simplify and automate how organizations deliver insights from their data and provide an open and extensible architecture to virtualize data for Artificial Intelligence (AI). Next up it’s Cloud Pak for Applications: to help businesses modernize, build, deploy and run applications.
Also here we find Cloud Pak for Integration: to help integrate apps, data, cloud services and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Cloud Pak for Automation: to help transform business processes, decisions and content. Finally, for now, there’s also Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management: to provide multi-cloud visibility, governance and automation, which claims to help clients reduce operational expenses of supporting large-scale cloud-native environments by 75 percent.
“We are providing the essential tools enterprises need to make their multi-year journey to cloud on common, open standards that can reach across clouds, across applications and across vendors with Red Hat,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president, Cloud and Cognitive Software, IBM.
Containers, packages, boxes and more…
The trend here ought to be fairly obvious i.e. it’s all about convenience and the option to use a chunk of software (or a template and reference plan to build new software) that has been proven to work elsewhere in environments with similar computing needs.
We’ve had software containers, we’ve had software packages (okay yes, it’s Paks) and we’ve had boxes in the shape of software sandbox techniques, where we compartmentalize experimental software projects away from the main production system so that they don’t cause a meltdown situation if they prove to be useless.
But boxing up technology into containers isn’t just about convenience. Just like Tupperware, it’s a technique that also offers portability and can offer some level of protection from outside forces. Given that these are tools for software developers, just like Tupperware, there’s also an inevitable possibility of burping too. Pardon me.