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Red Hat’s Ameeta Roy on pursuing a rampant open-cloud crusade

Red Hat’s Ameeta Roy on pursuing a rampant open-cloud crusade
Ameeta Roy

Founded in 1993, North Carolina-based Red Hat was one of the first to realise that free software could be sold. The company, which specialises in Linux operating systems, the most popular type of open-source software, grabbed eyeballs in October last year when IBM said it intended to acquire the enterprise tech maker for $34 billion. Although the acquisition remains pending, the move is seen as IBM’s ploy to reinvent itself for the cloud age with the infusion of Red Hat’s Kubernetes-based hybrid cloud programmes. IBM says the acquisition of the open-source giant will make it the world's leader in hybrid cloud.

In an interview with TechCircle, Ameeta Roy, who heads the solution architecture team for Red Hat India and South Asia, says that the firm is offering true portability of apps and data in hybrid cloud, which is not possible by public and private cloud providers. Roy also speaks about how enterprises need to have a design principle for hybrid cloud and how different trends are going to shape up the future of enterprise open-source technologies. Edited excerpts:

What is the ‘open’ hybrid cloud? What advantages does it offer over the traditional hybrid cloud?

Traditional hybrid cloud is just a choice that customers make in terms of their cloud strategies when their data resides on the private cloud, public cloud and on-premises, etc. The moment we talk about multiple cloud usages, the enterprise is said to be using the hybrid cloud.

In the ‘open’ hybrid cloud, we are providing that secret sauce in terms of ensuring that the innovation and apps that are built are abstracted away from the infrastructure and are given true portability.

Today, if I need to migrate my applications and workloads to another cloud for some reason, would a public or private cloud provider be able to provide that? It might not even be possible. However, with the open hybrid cloud, we can transport the data to any other cloud seamlessly through the OpenShift platform.

The very premise that we have built the OpenShift stack is on openness. Everything that we are offering is derived from upstream open-source projects that we are making enterprise-grade ready and bringing it to our partners and clients. We are agnostic in terms of the pieces of infrastructure and whichever cloud the client is on.

Interoperability, having apps talk to each other and not having to worry about if the deployments are actually happening is what the ‘open’ hybrid cloud offers.

How can chief information officers (CIOs) look at the hybrid cloud as a design principle and not as an afterthought? How can they go about planning this design principle?

For a design principle, the information technology (IT) decision-makers need to think about what business are they in, what type of application workload do they have, which ones they need to manage in their own data centres and which data they can export to a third party cloud provider (usually data that is not core to their business).

The company’s IT team need not have to manage non-essential workloads. For example, if an automotive company wants to provide certain services to the core customers, they would like to focus all of the innovations on the automotive area instead of wasting time on managing standard applications that could very well be managed by somebody else. 

Operating costs and time can be brought down with the right design principle. The questions to ask would be:

- Would I want to manage all of the servers on my own?

- What is the infrastructure and virtualisation that the company is going to have?

- Does my IT team have tools that can help in automatic provisioning or would I want to make it a completely manual process?

These are the things that the CIO needs to talk about when they need to design and define the cloud strategy.

Customers are always at different stages of their journey and we also play the advisory role in their transformation process. Some of them might have a cloud strategy but it might not be their most ideal cloud strategy; we help them figure that out.

How is Red Hat’s Kubernetes platform OpenShift different from the traditional Kubernetes offerings?

Red Hat’s OpenShift brings in a higher level of security. It is an open-source project so customers can download and use Kubernetes themselves, but the support that customers get from an open-source expert like Red Hat is what they look for.

We are a big part of the Kubernetes development; we bring innovations that are happening in the space to our customers and add layers of security and compliance. Red Hat is also a part of many upstream projects and we closely monitor open-source projects that could be used to solve potential pain points of customers.

Even before the industry recognised the power of Kubernetes, we had already come out with OpenShift. We are large participants in these open-source projects and, at the same time, we take feedback from the market and take the same to the open-source communities about what is relevant and which tools need more work.

How has the industry changed in terms of application development? How has the Red Hat Linux 8 adapted to the same?

In the past five years, the industry landscape has changed in terms of application development. We had to bring in developers to understand the operating system, remove complexities that a developer might face while interacting with operating systems and give them an environment where they can create those containers and not worry about how it’s going to be deployed. All of the innovations that the developers are doing are based on the various technologies that have come, such as Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML). We have expanded the reach to make it easier for non-Linux users. We have lowered the barriers of entry to Linux for Windows and Linux beginners with familiar and intuitive deployment and management interfaces.

What are the top three trends you are excited about in the open-source environment?

The first exciting trend is the whole journey of customers who have embarked in moving from monoliths to microservices. The move to implement these microservices is where containerisation and Kubernetes play key roles.

Secondly, how do we make automation accessible to all IT teams? It can be a nightmare when you want to bring the system down, apply patches, and work on upgrades, etc! How can we make life easier by making automation easier?

The third area Red Hat is excited about is the predictive analytics that we can deploy. The analytics is based on the learning and intelligence from insights that we have received from customers, so that we can proactively warn them about any risks across their infrastructure or could need remediation. This brings in more productivity to teams rather than them having to spend valuable time on troubleshooting, raising support tickets, etc.

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