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Microsoft, Red Hat expand focus on containers and DevOps

Red Hat and Microsoft have expanded their existing cloud partnership to focus on simplifying the adoption of containers and DevOps practices for enterprises.

Microsoft and Red Hat expanded their existing cloud partnership with new moves to simplify the adoption of containers and support for DevOps in enterprises.

The new initiatives from the two companies include native support for Windows Server containers and DevOps on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated on Microsoft Azure, and SQL Server on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and OpenShift. Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated on Microsoft Azure is expected to be available in early 2018.

"The expansion of the Red Hat and Microsoft alliance provides a broad platform for mixed containerized workloads, which helps developers and IT operations teams working in heterogeneous environments to continue driving toward DevOps, without worrying about maintaining separate workflows and software stacks," said Mike Ferris, vice president of cloud strategy at Red Hat, based in Raleigh, N.C.

"Additionally, Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated will be available on Microsoft Azure, expanding the choice of cloud providers for IT organizations seeking to leverage cloud services for container development and deployment without having to maintain and scale their own infrastructure," he said.

Expansion of 2-year-old alliance

Microsoft and Red Hat initiated their alliance two years ago, targeting hybrid cloud by providing enterprises with the choice of deploying Red Hat offerings, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), on Microsoft Azure.

This partnership differs from other cloud offerings by targeting the Windows and RHEL user base, providing a common framework for managing hybrid cloud app development [and] deployment through the OpenShift container platform.
Charlotte Dunlapprincipal analyst at GlobalData

"This partnership differs from other cloud offerings by targeting the Windows and RHEL user base, providing a common framework for managing hybrid cloud app development [and] deployment through the OpenShift Container Platform," said Charlotte Dunlap, principal analyst at GlobalData. "This week's agreement builds on the 2015 deal in which Microsoft began offering RHEL as an Azure service, targeting .NET customers," she added.

"This partnership is a powerful win for enterprises, ISVs [independent software vendors] and developers," said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for Microsoft's cloud and enterprise division, at the time of the initial agreement.

Now, Red Hat and Microsoft say they will extend the integrated, colocated Microsoft and Red Hat support to enable these new offerings across platforms. This move enhances support for containers and DevOps for enterprise customers.

As most organizations do not run a single infrastructure stack, and many have both Windows and Linux, expansion of the Red Hat-Microsoft alliance can help enterprises to break down silos and adopt containers and DevOps practices across the environments.

Support for Kubernetes, Azure Stack, SQL Server

Red Hat claims with Windows Server supporting Red Hat OpenShift, OpenShift will be the first container application platform built from the open source Kubernetes project to support both Linux and Windows Server container workloads in a single platform across hybrid cloud environments.

Red Hat demonstrated this capability at its Red Hat Summit in May 2017, and it is expected to be available as a Technology Preview in spring 2018.

"Microsoft and Red Hat are aligned in our commitment to bring enterprise customers the hybrid cloud solutions they need to modernize their businesses as they shift to operate in a cloud-native world," said John Gossman, Microsoft's lead Azure architect, in a statement.

Meanwhile, Microsoft and Red Hat said they plan to also collaborate on delivering integrated support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux workloads on Azure Stack, Microsoft's on-premises extension of Azure.

Red Hat announced the availability of .NET Core 2.0 as a container in OpenShift. And the two companies also said SQL Server for Linux will be available in the coming months on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and OpenShift.

Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said he believes the Microsoft-Red Hat agreement is a good example of the increasing common, customer-focused partnerships IT vendors are pursuing.

"Container technologies have appeared and become so successful so quickly that one vendor or platform dominating the market was a realistic expectation," he said.

Yet, in a blog post, Chris Morgan, technical director of OpenShift ecosystem at Red Hat, said, "the goal of the truly unified container application platform may not be as farfetched as it once seemed."

Also, for her part, GlobalData's Dunlap noted, "Hybrid cloud messaging among vendors will become more convoluted as we move into the fall's set of megaconferences by VMware, Oracle, Salesforce and others, each pushing its own core strengths -- such as virtualization, business suites and SaaS -- for moving enterprise apps into containerization and the cloud."

Next Steps

Red Hat expands AWS partnership

Cloud platforms for RHEL deployment

Azure opens to Linux apps and VMs

Dig Deeper on Software containers

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