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A couple of weeks after having closed its landmark acquisition of Red Hat, IBM is announcing new cloud capabilities that will transform the way clients do business and accelerate their journey to the cloud. This includes: IBM Cloud Paks, Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Cloud, Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Z and LinuxOne, and Consulting and technology services for Red Hat. All of this will be delivered on IBM’s hybrid multicloud platform, which is based on industry leading open technologies. We sat down with Hillery Hunter, VP & CTO IBM Cloud; IBM Fellow, IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software, to discuss what IBM’s latest announcements mean for clients and the industry.
Hillery Hunter, Vice President, CTO, IBM Cloud; IBM Fellow, IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software.
How has the definition of cloud shifted over time? Why is a hybrid cloud so essential for businesses today?
Hillery: Many people see the cloud as a place, but it’s more than that. It’s also a new way of doing work and of developing and consuming software. The cloud brings about agility, elasticity, and speed, which is essentially what DevOps, containers and Kubernetes enable. As a result, a company’s IT shops become a lot more responsive to the needs of their business.
What a hybrid cloud does is bring all of these benefits to all parts of your IT environment. Because IT is often done where you’re doing business, most companies now live in a hybrid, multicloud environment. The challenge they have in front of them is to connect all of the different parts that make up their IT environment and enhance them with cloud functions and cloud-delivered services.
This is what a private cloud does. A private cloud allows businesses to use the same software methodology to deploy content and capabilities on their premises and on their own hardware. This is important. With computing done in so many places, companies need to adopt common management and software development capabilities. That way they can globally deploy features, functions and security patches consistently—whether it’s in a public cloud, or a private cloud or any other place where they’re doing business.
Ultimately, a hybrid cloud allows companies to gain visibility and control over their entire infrastructure and, in turn, do business in a much more secure and efficient manner.
IBM has transformed its multi-billion software franchise to run anywhere. Can you describe the effort that went into re-engineering IBM’s software portfolio for the cloud era?
Hillery: IBM and Red Hat have partnered for decades. In fact, our software products have been running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux for a very long time. But in May 2018, IBM and Red Hat took that to new heights by forging a partnership around Red Hat OpenShift. The partnership made it possible for IBM’s middleware to be deployable on OpenShift. Ever since, we’ve been on a journey to make our middleware easily consumable and deployable as well as enrich them with cloud capabilities that address the unique needs of enterprises such as robustness and scale. This isn’t something that happens overnight. This has been a step-by-step process for IBM. It’s quite an engineering feat to take this much capability, content, and middleware and bring it all to a cloud context. All of this is the culmination of a multi-year effort to bring the best of what Red Hat has been doing with OpenShift, Kubernetes and open source with the credibility, security, and reliability of IBM’s vast software portfolio.
IBM has introduced IBM Cloud Paks. Can you describe what they are? How do IBM Cloud Paks fit into IBM’s overall cloud strategy?
Hillery: With IBM Cloud Packs, we’ve brought together various sets of functions to make it easier for clients to consume mission-critical software and middleware capabilities. This includes everything from application development to data and AI, to multicloud management, to integration, to automation.
We’ve taken traditional enterprise middleware and application development capabilities and completely re-platformed them for the cloud era. All IBM Cloud Paks run on OpenShift. What this means is that clients have the unique ability to deploy these capabilities anywhere OpenShift runs.
In addition, each software component uses common logging, and metering, for instance – you don’t get any of this when you just containerize code. So, all of the heavy lifting required to use the software in a complex cloud environment has been taken care of. We even go a step further with the capabilities of our Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management, bringing together all the visibility and control needed for a client to maintain monitoring, compliance, and security across all of their cloud estate – applications deployed on any cloud. This completely changes the cloud game; it provides the IT ops efficiency and consistency of cloud, while leaving control of deployment choice and policies in the client’s hands.
IBM Cloud Paks are also robust. They have gone through rigorous tests and certifications. It’s software that IBM stands behind, certifies, supports, and that clients can easily consume in any context that they want.
On our public cloud, that ease of consumption is even more significant as we’ve pre-loaded IBM Cloud Paks into our public cloud to offer businesses a rapid deployment experience. On IBM public cloud, Cloud Paks run on OpenShift on the same kubernetes service which we’ve used to build our own businesses (from Watson to the Weather Company), and it’s an environment trusted already today by over 1000 clients.
I should emphasize that the 5 Cloud Paks we’ve just announced are just the start. In a way, they’re a statement of our software strategy and how we intend to help clients manage the complexity that living in a hybrid, multicloud world entails. They reflect our goal of meeting clients both where they’re at – in terms of their current IT infrastructure choices and the various locations where they do business – and where they are going – with a complete cloud architecture.
All of the new software and services announced this week run on IBM’s hybrid multicloud platform. What is that and how will clients benefit?
Hillery: Many clients have made a particular cloud choice. That, however, brings with it a set of assumptions around everything from the developer tooling to the application capabilities they use. Today businesses realize that they need to have a much broader set of deployment locations. They want to do computing everywhere that they do business. They also want to develop new applications for different environments and infrastructures.
IBM’s hybrid multicloud platform enables clients to have an infrastructure-independent common operating environment across any of their clouds—public clouds, multiple public clouds, private clouds, or even out at the edge. It also brings to bear the ability to deliver consistent, certified content from a rich ecosystem. That ecosystem includes IBM and Red Hat but also other software vendors, partners, and even capabilities that have been developed in-house. The platform delivers all of this in a consistent way across all of these different environments to let businesses comply, secure, develop and deploy new content at a much faster pace. IBM’s hybrid multicloud platform is the only platform out there that allows clients to have a holistic cloud strategy.
Can you elaborate on the role that Red Hat OpenShift plays in IBM’s cloud strategy and, more specifically, in IBM Cloud Paks?
Hillery: OpenShift is deployed on all of the major public clouds. It’s used broadly in enterprise production environments. OpenShift is what makes it possible for companies to have an IT environment that is cohesive across private and public clouds.
The vision is for OpenShift-enabled IBM software to become the foundational building blocks clients can use to transform their organizations and build across hybrid, multicloud environments. Many clients are looking to consume our software and data and AI capabilities. And, they want to have flexibility of deployment. This is what OpenShift enables.
OpenShift gives businesses the freedom to deploy their apps anywhere. With OpenShift, not only are we giving clients broader choice of deployment of IBM software, but we’re also going the extra mile to provide them with unique capabilities in terms of automation, visibility, control and security.
More specifically, OpenShift plays a critical role in IBM Cloud Paks. It’s embedded into them. It’s the underlying Kubernetes and Container orchestration layer that supports all of that containerized software. Putting IBM’s Cloud Paks on top of Red Hat OpenShift enables us to have a broad reach immediately. OpenShift is also where the common services such as logging, metering, and security that IBM Cloud Paks leverage let businesses effectively manage and understand their workloads.
Open source technology is at the heart of IBM’s software transformation, the new IBM Cloud Paks and IBM’s hybrid multicloud platform. What is the role of open source in IBM’s hybrid cloud strategy?
Hillery: Absolutely. Each Cloud Pak includes open source components. In fact, we’ve used open source consistently throughout the portfolio so clients can use the open source databases and open source tools that their developers are familiar with. This is coupled with mission-critical enterprise qualities and software that clients trust. Finally, all of this is built on top of two open source products: Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Open source will remain a critical part of our strategy. It’s the cornerstone of innovation. Looking ahead, we will continue to incorporate open source capabilities that enterprises value. IBM is already heavily involved in open source projects that are the tip of the spear in terms of innovation. This includes Nabla, Knative, and Istio, for example. We intend to continue to be actively engaged in these open source communities.