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Red Hat's Cormier dishes on OpenShift.io and Container Health Index

Red Hat gives cloud app developers new power with a rating service for container health and security. And it takes away the need to install dev tools on local workstations with OpenShift.io.

The recent Red Hat Summit in Boston was attended by thousands of developers who benefitted from hundreds of sessions that took deep dives into program code and open source technology. Paul Cormier, Red Hat's executive vice president and the president of its products and technologies business, sat down for an exclusive interview with SearchCloudApplications.

Red Hat Summit 2017 in Boston had more than 6,000 attendees. Are you amazed at the Red Hat journey?

Paul Cormier: It's awesome. I've been at Red Hat for 16 years. I was employee #120. [Red Hat Co-founder] Bob Young hired me. How he started Red Hat was actually downloading Linux off the 'net, burning it to CDs and selling it out of the trunk of his car at flea markets. [Editor's note: As of May 2017, Red Hat has more than 7,900 employees.]

We've moved way past flea markets. You once said 2016 would be the year of dev and ops coming together to provide agile continuous integration and deployment. Did that happen, and where are we going in 2017?

Cormier: In the past, developers would just go grab code and throw it over the wall to the operators. And now, what's happening with DevOps, operators are giving developers a platform with all the pieces they need. By the time they're done building [an app], it's ready to be put in operation because it's already on supported components. It's on supported containers, for example, which is a Linux distro. They don't have to replatform it. I've said it until I was blue in the face -- a container is Linux. It's just Linux carved up in a different way.

What is Red Hat's goal for mobile and cloud application developers?

Paul CormierPaul Cormier

Cormier: The goal of our platforms is to keep infrastructure and infrastructure services underneath accessible, but invisible, to the developer. You don't have to know about networking or storage. You just have to request it. You don't even have to request it in many cases. The application just has to go out and get it. In some sense, it's going to make application developers true application developers and less systems guys.

That breaks down silos across development, networking and storage, to name three.

Cormier: That's melted away. That's part of how the culture has changed. When we first started deploying OpenShift with our customers, customers said, 'You know, it's the first time I've actually seen the developers and the operations people sitting in the same room talking to each other.'

The operations people used to complain to the developers that they were getting code they couldn't support and [would] have to fix. And the developers yelled at the operations people that they weren't getting the right things. Now, it's all on one platform and they're all happy. You cut out the middleman. From the point you're done with your app, it's ready to be supported by the operations people.

OpenShift.io, which you announced at Red Hat Summit, is essentially end-to-end online Integrated Development Environment for building cloud-native, container-based applications. There's nothing to install locally.

Cormier: [Developers can] start to build their application from day one, instead of spending a whole bunch of days and maybe months setting up in order to get there.

A year ago, developers could spin up resources in minutes rather than weeks. Are you saying with OpenShift.io we don't even have to do that?

At the end of the day, you still have to put out an application that works and is secure and is manageable.
Paul Cormierexecutive vice president and president of products and technologies, Red Hat

Cormier: Seconds, rather than minutes. Your resources are there, but what's interesting is coupling that with tools that make it even easier. The developer is on the platform with tools that guide them through app building. They may choose a package and [artificial intelligence] will look at it and say, 'You know what? That package has three security bugs. There's a later version of that available and here it is. Click on it if you want to build it in.' Often, the result would be an application being built with the wrong thing with a security hole that you'd have to bring back and rebuild. We're catching that even before it's built and change it on the fly.

Even with new tools like OpenShift.io, in the cloud era, we must deal with development and continuous delivery cycles measured in days and weeks rather than the traditional months and years.

Cormier: You have to learn the tools that come from providers like us to allow you to do that, because you just can't do continuous delivery and deployment without the right tools. At the end of the day, you still have to put out an application that works and is secure and is manageable.

The problem is that traditional management techniques are hopelessly obsolete in understanding the hybrid cloud security, integration and orchestration. And where are we going?

Cormier: Yes, we are in the middle of going to, just as the terms say, a continuous development, continuous integration and continuous deployment cycle. Test is part of that. The application developer is going to be allowed to worry about the business problems he's trying to solve and not have to worry what's underneath.

You also announced the Red Hat Container Health Index. How does that help developers?

The goal of our platforms is to keep infrastructure and infrastructure services underneath accessible, but invisible, to the developer.
Paul Cormierexecutive vice president and president of products and technologies, Red Hat

Cormier: In the past, people were playing with containers but not really betting their business on it. Now that they're starting to deploy them into production, security, manageability [and] lifecycle are more applicable now and you want a commercial-grade system to do commercial-grade containers in Linux. What we've done is containerize all of our products into a [Red Hat Enterprise Linux] container.

With the Container Health Index, we scan the pieces of the OS that they've included … and tell them what shape it's in, if there's any known security vulnerabilities or any bugs and offer a newer version if available. We've done that for our own products and we're now exposing those tools to our [independent software vendor] partners so they can run containers they've built with our container kits. We're going to publish Container Health Index results on our portal.

Red Hat technology is everywhere, but consumers have no sense of this.

Cormier: Have you ever sat on an airplane and watched the A/V and entertainment system reboot? Nine out of 10 times, it's a Red Hat kernel. We've never really billed ourselves or pushed ourselves to the consumer side -- although, a lot of our technology, because of the open source model, makes it into consumers' hands. From a business perspective, we've always focused on the enterprise side, but it's a great point you bring up because we're in the hands of consumers. They just don't know it.

Joel Shore is news writer for TechTarget's Business Applications and Architecture Media Group. Write to him at jshore@techtarget.com or follow @JshoreTT on Twitter.

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This was last published in May 2017

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