Red Hat has released the latest version of its CloudForms management tool for hybrid cloud deployments, adding the ability to manage workloads on Microsoft servers and Microsoft's Azure cloud, as well as support for containers alongside virtual machines. End users can also now access a self-service portal for provisioning resources.
Available immediately, CloudForms 4 is the latest incarnation of the platform Red Hat developed from technology it gained through the acquisition of ManageIQ three years ago. However, ManageIQ is still maintained as an open source project, and Red Hat bases CloudForms on this.
CloudForms already enabled customers to manage workloads on multiple platforms, including VMware, Amazon Web Services (AWS), OpenStack and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualisation, but the new release extends support to Hyper-V and Microsoft's Azure public cloud as well as containers running on Red Hat's OpenShift platform as a service (PaaS).
As a hybrid management tool, CloudForms thus enables users to manage workloads both on their own premises and those operating in the public cloud. The Hyper-V and Azure support is a result of the extended partnership between Red Hat and Microsoft detailed last month, which will also see Red Hat products available on the Azure cloud.
"We've added support on the server virtualisation side for Microsoft's System Center and Hyper-V, and on the cloud service provider side, support for Azure side by side with for AWS that we already supported in previous versions. This comes straight from the recent partnership we announced with Microsoft, and is the execution of that partnership," said Alessandro Perilli, general manager of Red Hat's cloud management business.
But Red Hat is not stopping there, and plans to continue to expand the number of public cloud platforms it supports, with Google Cloud the next one on the list.
"We already integrate with Google Cloud Engine, thanks to upstream code from the ManageIQ project, which Google has contributed. It's already there, but we didn't have the time to officially do the quality assistance and testing that is necessary to qualify it as fully supported, but we will deliver a point release in 2016 which formally supports that," Perilli said.
The second major new feature in CloudForms 4 is support for managing applications running in containers as well as virtual machines, or at least for those running under Docker and Kubernetes, the latter being the container orchestration supported by Red Hat's newly released OpenShift 3.1 platform.
"We have a single pane of glass now that allows you to see side by side VMs and containers and what is inside both of them. We have this capability that we call introspection that allows us to see what's inside them in terms of operating system and users and processes," Perilli said.
"This is a big deal, not just because of the capability to see side by side different logical units serving workloads for an application, but also because you can create a correlation between the different tiers of an application, regardless of where they are deployed in the stack," he claimed.
In other words, customers can get oversight of a complex multi-tier application that may have some components running inside virtual machines and others running inside containers. CloudForms 4 can see inside all of them and create the logical connection between the components in order to treat them as one line of business application.
CloudForms 4 also has a completely refreshed administrator dashboard, but has also gained a self-service provisioning portal.
"So CloudForms effectively has two different portals; one is for the IT operators and has been revamped with a new user interface language to make simpler to use; and a new self-service provisioning portal that is meant for the end user, the line of business employee that wants to request an application," Perilli said.
Also new is support for multi-tenancy, enabling CloudForms to segment a cloud environment into multiple environments for different tenants.
"This is big deal because in large organisations like banks, there is not always a strong need to enforce tenancy, but for other segments like telcos, this is super important, and in the last six to nine months we have seen growing demand for CloudForms from telcos," Perilli explained.
Going forwards, Red Hat wants to better integrate CloudForms with other Red Hat products and services in future, to better manage assets such as its Red Hat Storage offering and the JBoss middleware portfolio.
"At the end of the day, we want to shift from infrastructure-centric management to an application-centric perspective, so what matters is not just the underlying infrastructure like containers that deliver the application, but what lives inside them, so we want to have an insight into the OS, into the middleware, and into the bits of the application itself," he said.
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