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GCN : January and February 2017
Q&A: REALIZING THE PROMISE OF DEVOPS DevOps is changing the way govern- ment organizations develop ap- plications to improve business functions and provide better services. This level of agility allows for faster application development and delivery. However, the process is often stymied from delivering its full potential value since applications developed for one environment don’t often work as well in another. Joel Jackson, Red Hat’s director of emerging technology sales, North American public sector, talks about how microservices and Linux contain- ers can help finally deliver on the full promise of DevOps. What’s the business driver for government organizations using containers for DevOps? AContainers are a great way to safely and securely package applications and workloads. They guarantee that what was initially developed will be identical to what is delivered through development, quality assurance and final production. It also ensures portability. If you want to move that application to a different hypervisor or operating system than the one for which it was originally written, you don’t have to rebuild the application. That’s a costly process. What are microservices, and how do they relate to containers and the way they are used in DevOps? A A microservices architecture al- lows for creating loosely coupled— though still autonomous—services. They are a great way to package your applica- tion logic and isolate it from other func- tions. Then you can rapidly change and scale requirements as needed. When you build an application, there’s no way of knowing how many people will use it, for example, so how do you build for scale? Microservices lets you chop up that ap- plication, package it in a variety of ways, and scale it as user requirements change. It also provides for a more predictable cost structure if you do have to refactor applications. The portability and density of containers work well with microser- vices. In fact, they’re a foundational tool in micro- services architecture. Containers have been a part of the Linux world for a long time, so why are they receiving such attention now? AThe difference has been the introduction of the docker-format container packaging specification. This describes all the things needed for appli- cations to run within a container. There are also container management tools, such as Google’s Kubernetes, which is open source and brings in over a decade’s worth of experience running contain- ers at scale. Extending this is Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, which is enterprise-ready Kubernetes and a whole lot more. Along with the microservices approach that helps get people away from the monolithic mindset of devel- oping and deploying applications, those are probably the biggest reasons for why containers are so hot right now. What’s the difference between containers and virtual machines (VMs), which have long been used for application development? ASome people think of containers as the next evolution of VMs. We believe it’s a good idea to get away from that. Containers are stateless and meant to be relatively short-lived. VMs are the opposite. Applications are purposely built for containers. Containers have to understand a lot of different issues such as storage and other things the applica- tion needs to run. VMs do not. But we see a lot of customers deploy OpenShift on virtual infrastructure to get more out of their existing investments in virtualization with the added benefit of higher application density and accel- erated development processes. In that sense, containers and virtualization are complementary technologies. What are the issues with containers and security in a government setting? How do you ensure regulatory compliance? AThat’s probably the biggest single talking point we have with our government customers, particularly the DoD and intelligence agencies. There’s an inherent scaling problem if you use microservices. Instead of having to patch and manage seven to 10 applications servers in a “regular” environment, with microservices you might have to patch 700 or 800 con- tainers at a time. So doing containers isn’t enough. What really matters is the utility of those containers, which Reach the Pinnacle of DevOps Container technology and microservices help support the full promise of DevOps. AN INTERVIEW WITH Joel Jackson Director of Emerging Technology Sales, North American Public Sector Red Hat SPONSORED CONTENT Q&A: REALIZING THE PROMISE OF DEVOPS SPONSORED CONTENT means you have to abstract them with platforms like Kubernetes and OpenShift. These automatically push security patches out to all affected containers. It’s difficult to manage that scale without those kinds of platforms. As far as compliance is concerned, OpenShift’s foundation is basically Red Hat Enterprise Linux. That is a fully compliant system. If you use OpenShift to manage containers running on Red Hat’s Linux, they automatically inherit all the benefits that come with that. Howwelldocontainers work with legacy applications, of which there are still many in government? ASometimestheyworkwell,some- times not so much. It depends entirely on the application and the environment. We’re the first to say that containers aren’t the silver bullet for all things. You have to assess each appli- cation and environment individually. We’ve had many customers see great success implementing OpenShift with traditional workflows on traditional infrastructures. We’ve had some that have done the assessment and found it’s not as great a fit. It’s an easy question to answer, but it’s not black and white. Arecontainersrightfor all DevOps, or are they to be considered only for certain situations? AInitsbasicform,DevOpsis about aligning the development function with the operations func- tion in the IT organization to achieve business results, faster, without having to concentrate on the manual minutia of technical details. A DevOps model requires the process adjustments over a more traditional waterfall model to release applications and incremental updates more quickly. In most cases, for DevOps you need a platform like OpenShift to automate those applica- tion release processes such as convert- ing source code into containers, mov- ing those containers through release pipelines, test automation and into production. You want your developers to focus on the code and operators to focus on defining the policies; every- thing else is governed by the platform. We think the question should be, “Is your organization really ready to change its tools, change its process- es, and change its culture to adopt a DevOps approach?” You do that iteratively. A Big Bang approach is definitely not the way to go. A few organizations already have many of the right tools in place. Most of those that don’t at least have bright people open to modernization. They can be champions of change for the right reasons. Instead of stumbling around on their own, they should partner with professionals who can help transform their IT shop with little risk. We talk about the DevOps journey and that’s just what it is. You can’t expect things to change overnight. It’s an intersection of modernizing people, modernizing processes and modernizing tools. You really can’t rush that. So we approach it from a crawl, walk, and then run approach. When you finally run, though, you never want to walk again. Whatresultswould organizations see from this container and microservices approach to DevOps? AThedevelopmentteamwillbe able to focus much more on busi- ness results, so they’ll see more features developed faster and with better quality than before. Look at those organiza- tions that already employ this approach, such as Netflix and Facebook. They change their code base hundreds of times a day and users don’t even know it. All they see are new features popping up on their screen or in phone apps. But what’s critical is that we can now make that an achievable goal also for government organizations with Red Hat OpenShift. Independent analyst research shows that our customers accelerate application deployments by 66 percent, generate about $1.3M in incremental business benefits by 100 application developers annually and achieve a 530 percent ROI over five years on their OpenShift investments. What sets Red Hat aside from other companies that offer containers for DevOps? Why should government organizations use your solutions? We’re building on what we put together with Red Hat Enterprise Linux for 15 years now. When you look at who develops a Linux kernel, when you look at containers and understand it’s basically a Linux operating system, you naturally see who the biggest contribu- tors are to the Linux kernel. Outside of Intel; it’s Red Hat. Then you need to look at the bigger picture and see who is making the most contributors to the docker project, to Kubernetes and literally dozens of open source projects for storage, networking, monitoring and higher-level application services for integration, business rules and API management, you’ll find that the one name that consistently shows up as a top contributor is Red Hat. The deep knowledge of these underlying pipes in the Linux kernel and the entire container and applica- tion stack give us a huge advantage and perspective on building solutions like OpenShift and delivering them as secure, scalable enterprise solutions and cloud-based services, which is where you’ll find the real value. For more information, visit redhat.com/openshift
October and November 2016