When Docker got started back in 2013, Red Hat was the first major vendor to embrace the new container approach. Now three years later, Docker containers are poised to revolutionize enterprise IT, and at the Red Hat Summit in San Francisco, Red Hat is emphasizing that it has built out an entire portfolio of products to enable the container revolution.
In a press conference at the Red Hat Summit, Paul Cormier, president of Products and Technologies at Red Hat, declared that his company is now expanding its enterprise container offerings.
"We're building on what we've already built with Red Hat Enterprise Linux [RHEL] into our RHEL containers," Cormier said. "Container technology has been around for a long time, but why the time has now come is because of hybrid cloud."
Cormier added that Red Hat's customers are deploying applications across physical, virtual, private and public cloud infrastructures. What containers provide is a form of consistency, such that workloads can be deployed across the various forms of infrastructure that Red Hat customers are using.
Among Red Hat's new products for containers announced at the Red Hat Summit is OpenShift Local, which is a free on-premises version of Red Hat's OpenShift platform-as-a-service (PaaS) technology. Red Hat shifted OpenShift to be container-based at last year's Red Hat Summit as part of the OpenShift 3.0 milestone update. In addition, Red Hat announced a new Gluster Storage integration for OpenShift, bringing persistent storage capabilities to the container platform.
Security was also front and center at Red Hat's press conference, with Cormier announcing what he referred to as a new scanning capability to enable organizations to scan containers for security vulnerabilities. Red Hat actually first announced a scanning capability for Docker containers back in October 2015, in partnership with scanning vendor Black Duck.
Other vendors have made container scanning announcements in 2016 as well, with CoreOS announcing version 1.0 of its Clair container scanning effort in March and both Docker Inc. and Aqua debuting container scanning efforts in May.
In response to a question from eWEEK about how the new scanning announcement is different from the October Red Hat announcement, Joe Fernandes, senior director of product management at Red Hat, said that it's not enough to just scan for vulnerabilities; there is also a need to patch and have a complete workflow. He noted that the scanning news today is the realization of the announcement first made in October as well as an opening up of the container interface for scanning.
"We started working with Black Duck back in October, but it's the framework that is ready now and it's the framework that opens up the ecosystem for our partners," Cormier said.
While Red Hat was an early adopter of Docker, there are now a number of competitors in the container space, including CoreOS. Cormier isn't worried about competition, as he sees Red Hat as having a key competitive advantage.
"Containers are Linux," he said. "We're the leading Linux vendor in the enterprise today, and with that we bring a huge install base, experience and processes."
Cormier was also asked during the press conference specifically about competitive differentiation with CloudFoundry, which also makes use of containers as part of its PaaS technology. Cormier criticized CloudFoundry as not truly being a single platform, but rather a collection of vendor-specific implementations. He noted that IBM, Pivotal and Hewlett Packard Enterprise all have their own flavors of CloudFoundry.
"So that's the confusion around CloudFoundry, they're all different," Cormier said. "Unless they all take the same code and make the same changes in the same way, which isn't going to happen, you won't have application consistency."
Cormier added that CloudFoundry is like Unix, in the same way that different Unix vendors all went separate ways over time, impacting application interoperability.
"CloudFoundry is not something that will give you application portability across everyone's version of CloudFoundry," he said. "That's not what our customers want."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.