The Race to Hybrid Multicloud Interoperability

Red Hat’s Ron Pacheco explains how a new partnership with Nutanix was sparked by customers’ need for building and managing applications across private and public IT infrastructures.

By Jennifer Redovian

By Jennifer Redovian December 15, 2021

There’s a good reason for the growing adoption of hybrid multicloud and container technologies: together, they help enterprises dynamically optimize where their applications run as cost, security, performance and other variables change.

In its Worldwide Cloud 2020 Predictions report, analyst firm IDC stated that by 2022, more than 90% of enterprises worldwide will rely on a mix of dedicated private clouds, multiple public clouds and legacy data platforms. And the 2021 State of Enterprise Open Source Report by Red Hat found that nearly half of enterprises already use containers in production while an additional 37% use them for development-only purposes.

Containers combine application code and their dependencies into lightweight packages that enterprises can easily move across dissimilar cloud infrastructures as their requirements shift.

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Early Days

These are early days for building and managing hybrid multicloud environments, which can still be a complicated undertaking. Helping customers tame this complexity is the target of a recent development and support partnership between Nutanix and Red Hat.

The two companies have teamed to enable enterprise customers to build containerized applications on the Nutanix Acropolis Operating System (AOS), the engine powering the infrastructure-agnostic Nutanix Cloud Platform, using Red Hat OpenShift. The combination of the two platforms simplifies hybrid multicloud application development, management and mobility, said Ron Pacheco, director of product management at Red Hat.

“Many customers have expressed interest in the interoperability or the mutual deployment of [Nutanix and Red Hat] products,” Pacheco told The Forecast.

He added that their business and IT models are being challenged by changes in market dynamics that call for accelerated integration and interoperability across environments.

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“Our customers may have new regulatory compliance rules to meet while they must continue to support a legacy installed customer base and legacy products. But they also have to innovate to deal with encroaching competition,” such as startups that often don’t have aging infrastructure holding them back, Pacheco said. “So it’s imperative to put solutions into the market that these companies can readily deploy. Long gone are the days of six months’ testing prior to production.”

Collaboration for Simplicity

The arrangement brings together OpenShift, the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) operating system, and the Nutanix Cloud Platform, which includes AOS and the Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV).

For its part, the Nutanix Cloud Platform contributes an abstraction layer that sits on top of underlying IT infrastructures, including multivendor private and public clouds. This software provides enterprises with centralized visibility and management capabilities across the various infrastructures in which their workloads and applications run.

Open source containers enabled by OpenShift allow application movement among these environments. If an IT team needs to move an app to a different infrastructure to get better pricing, comply with a new regulatory mandate or gain a unique feature in a different cloud, for example, open source containers make that mobility possible with a simple click or two.

The software companies are providing joint customers with a “full-stack platform to more easily build, scale and manage containerized and virtualized cloud-native applications in hybrid multicloud environments,” said Pacheco.

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Under the agreement, OpenShift is the preferred choice for enterprise full-stack Kubernetes on the Nutanix Cloud Platform, and the Nutanix platform is fully supported by Red Hat for deploying the RHEL operating system and OpenShift containers, he said.

Joint Support and Engineering

Nutanix and Red Hat have also pledged to improve the support experience for joint customers and to follow a collaborative engineering roadmap to deliver robust product interoperability.

On the support side, the vendors have instituted cross-product training and are providing access to their respective professional certification programs. In addition, they have set up dedicated labs to help ensure support resources are in place to prepare specialists to handle customer calls that involve one or both vendors’ solutions.

“When you have this type of [collaborative partnership], support is going to flow both ways,” said Pacheco.

“A customer should be confident that she can call either Red Hat or Nutanix with any problem in her cloud environment and, no matter which products are involved, she’ll get the quality support she needs.”

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Similarly, the vendors have entered into a joint engineering agreement that includes, among other things, continuous testing of RHEL and OpenShift with Nutanix AHV and access to each other’s software products in development, said Pacheco. The engineering teams are working together to remedy issues prior to production and to inform the support organizations of findings that will help them resolve customers’ issues more quickly.

Interoperability across hybrid and multicloud systems is part and parcel of joint engineering efforts. 

“End customers don’t want to be the point of integration. They expect their IT partners to take care of that,” Pacheco said.

In that spirit, one of the first items on the joint engineering roadmap is to make OpenShift simpler to install and deploy on a Nutanix platform. Currently, this is a manual process.

“But our engineering teams aim to have it integrated into a future OpenShift offering so it just becomes an automated install experience,” Pacheco said. “We are targeting the second half of 2022.”

Jennifer Redovian is a contributing writer with more than 20 years’ experience writing about information technology, computer networking and their impacts on enterprise business.

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