This blog comments on a variety of technology news, trends, and products and how they connect. I'm in Red Hat's cloud product strategy group in my day job although I cover a broader set of topics here. This is a personal blog; the opinions are mine alone.
PaaS started out as a tool for developers. But on-premise commercial products like OpenShift Enterprise now make PaaS a valuable tool for many different roles within enterprises. Joe Fernandes heads OpenShift product management at Red Hat. On this podcast, he shares what enterprise customers have been telling him about PaaS.
Haff: This is Gordon Haff, cloud
evangelist with Red Hat. I'm sitting here today with Joe Fernandes, who handles
the OpenShift product management team. Welcome, Joe.
Fernandes: Thanks, Gordon.
We've been on a little bit of a OpenShift run in terms of podcasts
recently because there's been a lot of activity going on. Today I'd like to
focus in specifically on OpenShift Enterprise, which is our on‑premise
commercial offering of Platform-as-a-Service for organizations that want Platform-as-a-Service
but want it on‑premise. Joe, we launched OpenShift Enterprise back in November
right around Thanksgiving. Can you maybe tell us where things stand?
Yeah. Thanks, Gordon. Things have been going great. As you mentioned, we
launched the first GA release of OpenShift Enterprise 1.0 back in November.
It's been a whirlwind since then. We've been involved in a number of customer
engagements, different evaluations, and proof of concepts. Talking to our
customer base and reaching out to new customers who have learned about what
we're doing in the cloud space and in PaaS specifically. More recently we
launched the 1.1 version, which was our first point release. We're in the
process of launching another release, 1.2, which will be timed around Red Hat
Summit. We're being quite aggressive on the development side in terms of
rolling out new releases and integrating the features and enhancements and
extending the platform to suit the needs of our users.
What are some of the things that maybe have surprised you a little bit as
we rolled out OpenShift Enterprise? This is a new area in Platform-as-a-Service,
which started out predominantly, like our own offering, as these hosted services.
What are you finding now that you're talking to a lot of enterprises?
One thing is the broad interest in Platform-as-a-Service among enterprise
customers. We're talking to some of the largest companies out there and folks
that may have reasons to be a little bit more reluctant to move applications to
the cloud, to use some of these newer cloud services. The interest among
enterprise customers is great to see. Then within those customers, the interest
within the different teams. I think we talked about this last time. PaaS is
often pitched to developers, but we're talking to just as many administrators,
operations folks, and enterprise architects about what PaaS can do for their
organizations as we are strictly talking to developers and development
the use cases. We're talking to a lot of customers about PaaS not only for dev
and test but for production. That's really great to see because people are
thinking about this as something that they can use to take applications across
the life cycle.
One of our colleagues, Dan Juengst, has talked about this idea of a
software factory. [What] that really involves, though, is you can't just have a
factory for your applications in part of their life cycle. It really needs to
be a workflow that takes you from the applications being written to the
applications running in production.
Right, absolutely. There's a few things driving that. First, obviously,
the IT operators, the administrators. One of the things they need to do is
serve the needs of their developers that are responsible for building these new
applications as services. Oftentimes, enabling those developers with new
platforms, software and so forth so that they can stand up these applications,
they can do their development, and do their testing, can be a challenge,
especially given the proliferation of new applications and new services being
developed across the enterprise.
also gotten into the challenges that they face once those applications move to
production. They not only want to reduce the amount of time that it takes to
get their developers and their QA teams enabled, but for themselves, they're
deploying applications to production at a rapid pace. They want to be able to
accelerate that process to streamline the process of moving those applications
out to production. Looking at Platform-as-a-Service is a mechanism for maybe
helping them do that.
One of the things I find interesting about the enterprises adopting PaaS.
When people started talking about the cloud at first, there was one school of
thought that everything was going to go Software‑as‑a‑Service. People weren't
going to need to write applications any longer and so forth. That certainly has
happened to a degree with certain types of applications ‑‑ a Salesforce CRM,
for example. One of things that has come out in the last year or so is that
these tools to make it easier to develop applications have actually created
this real renaissance of writing applications to support specific industries,
specific business requirements and so forth.
Knipp of Gartner actually was speculating that maybe we're going to have a
golden age of enterprise application development brought on by PaaS, because
there really is this incredible appetite for applications that support a
particular company's business. In the past it was retarded by the fact it took
a lot of effort to write those applications.
Yeah, absolutely. A couple of points you made there. First, there is a
tremendous appetite within the enterprise for tools and methodologies that can
help accelerate application development. Despite the availability of packaged
applications available through software‑as‑a‑service, it hasn't diminished the
need for custom application development. Oftentimes, a lot of these
applications are even developed around services.
talking to customers that may be using a Salesforce, but then build a whole
series of modules that plug into Salesforce or applications that pull data from
Salesforce or whatever they happen to be using for CRM, ERP or what have you.
are what we refer to as systems of engagement, systems that basically take that
data from ERP, CRM, or other applications which are traditionally systems of
record, and bring that closer to users ‑‑ whether it's customers, whether it's
partners, or whether it's internal employees and so forth.
these may be Web applications, but they may be mobile applications. They may be
social applications. They may be location‑aware. Again, as the different types
of applications have grown, the enterprise needs to keep up and needs to be
able to build these things faster.
you see is a long tail of applications within the enterprise. You see a handful
of big, strategic, applications that probably still run on hefty systems. Maybe
they're not even running in virtual environments today. Then you see a much
longer tail of these systems of engagement, these smaller applications that
address specific use cases or target specific areas of the business.
question is, how does IT support all that? How do they manage a handful of
mission‑critical systems, but still enable the business to do what it needs to
do across all these applications?
second point you made is, there is always an adoption curve within the
enterprise. Particularly, as you get into larger organizations, there's
certainly more risk. There's more concern about making sure that they're not
exposing themselves to risk as they adopt new technologies.
saw this with virtualization, which in the early days was something that
enterprises were still getting there hands around. Now it'd be hard‑pressed to
find in enterprise that doesn't have a significant portion of their
Most enterprise that you talk to are leveraging one or more significant SaaS‑based
applications to run their business. Even Infrastructure-as-a-Service, I've been
struck by the number of customers that I've spoken to that already have
Infrastructure‑as‑a‑Service‑based clouds, either in operation or at least in
development in something that they're thinking about.
is the next wave that really hasn't quite made it into the enterprise in a
large scale and so forth, primarily because it hasn't been something that
enterprises have been able to consume in either an on‑premise or a hybrid
the first thing we did with open OpenShift Enterprise. We brought Platform-as-a-Service
and these capabilities that you barely saw in public PaaS providers. We brought
it in an on‑premise, private, PaaS deployment model to enterprise customers and
enabled hybrid. We're continuing to see great traction with that.
Let's talk about some of those specifics here, going from dev test to
production. What are these requirements that these customers have that changes
with something like OpenShift Enterprise that makes that now suitable for what
they want to do, which previous offerings really didn't meet their requirements
or at least their perceived requirements?
When you're talking about running production applications within a PaaS,
it's really not much different than what you think about for production
requirements in general. People are going to be focused on scalability. They're
going to be focused on security. They're going to be focused on compliance
issues, which may be specific to their particular business or region of the
world that they operate in and so forth. When they talk to us about our PaaS
platform, they want to know about these things. They want to know, again, on
the one hand, how's it going to meet the needs of my developers, my QA folks or
the dev and test environments that we hope to bring this to. But then, if I
bring it into production, what's your story around high availability? What's your
story around security? How are my administrators going to manage this stuff?
a production setting, it probably is no longer developers that are deploying
those applications. It may be an application administrator or an operations
person that's going to be handling those deployments. They need to handle those
oftentimes through some kind of a workflow or in a managed way and so forth.
are things that, when you think about production environments, really start to
change the game and become something that I think PaaS is evolving to in terms
of being able to address those needs.
Of course, it has to the support the development environments like Java
EE. They want to run their enterprise prize apps. I think you want to be very
clear on one thing here. This isn't about on‑premise versus hosted offerings. I
certainly expect, in many cases, you're going to see enterprises adopting some
sort of hybrid architecture. In fact, many of them are effectively doing that
today. The issue in many cases today is the stuff that isn't on‑premise is this
shadow IT that isn't necessarily being managed in a systematic way.
Definitely, for many organizations, particularly larger enterprise
organizations, it's going to have to be a hybrid model. They're not going to be
able to entirely run their business in the public cloud like startups or many
small businesses may do today. They need to be able to evolve at their own
pace. I think Red Hat is uniquely positioned to help them do that with not only
our PaaS offerings but our hybrid cloud approach in general. That combines
private on‑premise cloud deployment with what folks can run on the public cloud
providers like Amazon and others. I think we have a great story there.
We should also mention to our listeners. This is all open‑source. There's
a community version of this, OpenShift Origin. Of course, we do still have our
hosted offering, which is probably the easiest way if somebody just wants to
get a sense of what this OpenShift thing is about. Just go to OpenShift.com,
sign up for a free account, and give it a try.
In fact, you've hit on a number of things there that really make us
excited about what's going on here on the OpenShift side and in the Red Hat
cloud business in general. It starts with the fact that Red Hat is built on an
open‑source model and has proven that they can make that successful in the
enterprise. Like all of our other products, OpenShift is based on an upstream
open‑source community, which is OpenShift Origin. All of the source code for
our PaaS platform is freely available on GitHub, Apache 2.0 license. We're
building a community of contributors that are helping us build the features and
the functionality that we need to drive this platform forward. Then we take
that in OpenShift Enterprise and we harden it and commercialize that for
this is something that enterprises need because what we're going to do in
OpenShift Enterprise is, we're going to handle not only support but things like
managing security updates, patches, compatibility from one release to the next,
binary compatibility and stability that you don't always get in open‑source
upstream communities because there the focus is on innovation.
just like we combined the innovation of Fedora with the enterprise nature of
Red Hat Enterprise Linux, we do the same thing across all our products. It's no
different in PaaS. The one difference in OpenShift is we have a third leg of
that stool, which is the OpenShift Online service, which is also based on this
OpenShift Origin open‑source platform. That's really important.
also all runs on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is important for a couple of
reasons. It's a hardened platform that businesses trust to run their most
critical applications, but it's also something that administrators are familiar
with. We're trying to take those administrators and help them evolve their RHEL
infrastructure, their Linux infrastructure into a cloud infrastructure with
OpenShift. Again, that's something we're very excited about.
One of the interesting things about having had the OpenShift Online
service here is that it has given our engineers a lot of good experience at
what's needed to scale up a Platform-as-a-Service here and put the security
policies in place, the cgroups policies, to get multi‑tenant performance so
that you don't have resource hogs. It's given us this platform to test
scalability that I'm not sure we've ever quite had before.
Yeah, it is one of the challenges in enterprise software development. You
never quite get to run the stuff at the same scale that your customers do. I've
been a product manager for almost 15 years, and I've seen this first‑hand. You
can test it in the lab, you can test it with your QA organization, but where
it's really going to be tested at scale is when it goes out to your customer
base. This was a unique thing about OpenShift. Before we shipped the 1.0 GA
version, we ran our OpenShift Online service at scale for over 18 months. At
this point, we've seen quite a bit there. When you launch an online service and
you open it up to the world with just an email address to sign up, you get some
very interesting applications. Sometimes you get some very malicious
applications. You get all sorts of requests from across the spectrum and so
our sales team would have liked us to release products sooner, I think it was a
necessary step to get us to where we are today. What we learned about security,
what we learned about multi‑tenancy...
we run the online service on Amazon, so we're paying the bill for all those
apps that we're running there free of charge. Multi‑tenancy density is very
important because we want to manage our own spend even as we're providing this
service to end customers. We learned a lot about that and then learned a lot
about the different features, as you mentioned earlier.
don't just want a single‑language PaaS, they wanted different languages. We
started out with Java, Ruby and PHP, added things like Node.JS, Python and so
forth, and continue to explore adding different capabilities.
think you'll see that when you come to OpenShift Enterprise, a lot of that
experience has made its way into the product. As we look forward, we're going
to be launching the commercial version of our online service later this year. I
think you'll see it's reflected there as well
Gordon: Great. Thank you, Joe, and thank you all
for listening. As I say, we've got a lot of good OpenShift material out there.
Check out OpenShift.com. Sign up for an account. There are also all kinds of
how‑to guides and videos and other types of blog posts and what have you there.
It's a product that's easy to get a really good idea of what it's about without
having to do a big install on‑site. Again, thank you, Joe. Thank you, everyone.
I'm in the cloud product strategy group at Red Hat. Prior to Red Hat, I wrote hundreds of research notes, was frequently quoted in publications like The New York Times on a wide range of IT topics, and advised clients on product and marketing strategies. Earlier in my career, I was responsible for bringing a wide range of computer systems, from minicomputers to large UNIX servers, to market while at Data General. Among other hobbies, I do a lot of photography and enjoy the outdoors.