Today Red Hat and dotCloud announced a technical partnership around Docker, the next-gen application container (disclosure: I am employed by Red Hat and was responsible for the initial meeting between these two companies to explore the technical collaboration. However, this is my personal opinion as an industry observer and it is not representative of Red Hat’s opinion). This is a pretty significant announcement with regards to Platform as a Service, in general, and application containers, in particular. The impact of this collaboration will be felt in the years to come.
First, the news
Red Hat and dotCloud announced that they are working together on the Docker open source project. They are collaborating extensively on various aspect of the Docker project and the interface with Red Hat’s open source platforms. According to the press release, the collaboration extends to various community efforts:
- Docker will be packaged for Fedora project and will be part of the upcoming Fedora release. This is significant because Fedora is the upstream of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Docker will eventually make it to RHEL.
- Red Hat will help Docker remove its dependency on AuFS (Advanced Multi Layer Unification Filesystem). AuFS is incompatible with SELinux due to relabeling limitations and hence Docker cannot run on top of Fedora, RHEL or CentOS. This collaboration will ensure that Docker can run on these Linux versions
- Red Hat will help enable support for libvirt inside Docker so that users can leverage enterprise grade networking capabilities with Docker’s user experience
- Red Hat will enable OpenShift, their PaaS offering, to integrate Docker with OpenShift’s cartridge model for seamless application orchestration
These are just the beginnings and I foresee many more opportunities going forward. However, these announcements, by itself, is very impactful in today’s modern IT.
Now, my views
Personally, I think this is a great announcement that could impact enterprise market in a significant way. Specifically, it re-calibrates the PaaS landscape by making OpenShift and Docker powerful players potentially disrupting the space in the years to come. Let me try to describe the importance of this announcement as someone who has observed this space from 30000 ft for several years as an analyst. Again, keep in mind that I am offering my personal opinions here and they are not the official position of Red Hat.
- Red Hat OpenShift is not just an open source platform but it is unique in being a platform with an open architecture. There are many other open source PaaS offerings in the market but OpenShift is the only platform with an open architecture that allows you not just to plug in any language frameworks or data stores but also application servers. You are not dependent on the whims and fancies of the PaaS vendor for your application server needs. With this collaboration, OpenShift goes one step further in its open roots by potentially allowing you to plug in Docker containers for your needs. This makes OpenShift the only platform in the market offering true portability. The ability to plug in Docker containers will make it seamless to port any application to any other environment, even to your own bare metal environment. The possibilities are endless and this collaboration is truly game changing in this regard. When Red Hat utters the word “Open”, they really mean it and they don’t do just lip service
- Docker on RHEL will have widespread industry implications as RHEL is ubiquitous in enterprise IT. From modern applications to big data workloads, Docker can be used to package them and then provisioned on enterprise grade RHEL environments. This has the potential to completely reshape enterprise IT as more and more organizations embrace modern applications and big data
- The support for Docker in RHEL and OpenShift gives customers more choice on getting maintenance support. More choice = competitive market = empowered customers. This is a perfect example of co-opetition which is a new trend in today’s enterprise landscape
- As we move from a world of virtual machines to a world of containers, Red Hat and Docker will emerge as two key players shaping the landscape.
The possibilities are endless and impact will be significant. When we turn back and look at the evolution of enterprise IT landscape five years from now, this partnership could very well emerge as a defining moment. I am optimistic on the potential of this partnership and now we all can eagerly wait for the landscape to evolve drastically. You could easily dismiss this as just an opinion of an overzealous Red Hat employee but if you really look at the technology underneath and understand the potential possibilities made possible by this partnership, you will also be writing one such optimistic blog post #justsayin.