OpenShift

5 Red Hat OpenShift Benefits You Didn’t Know About

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Hybrid and multicloud have become the default technology and infrastructure operating models in enterprises. In these complex types of architectures, Kubernetes is a favorite choice due to its vendor-agnostic characteristics and advanced infrastructure capabilities. But there is another option: Red Hat OpenShift.

Big organizations that have strict security and compliance requirements, often prefer to adopt OpenShift. In this blog we’ll take a look at five benefits of Red Hat OpenShift you may not have been aware of:

  1. CI/CD and Repositories
  2. OpenShift Monitoring and Logging
  3. Advantages of OpenShift Security
  4. Developer Experience and Cost Management
  5. Hybrid OpenShift Architecture and Cloud Enablement  

What Is OpenShift? What Is the use of OpenShift?

OpenShift is an application platform product developed by Red Hat that enables software engineers to develop and deploy applications at scale. Built on top of Kubernetes and offering enterprise grade capabilities, OpenShift is a popular option for on-premises or hybrid cloud container-based architectures because it provides a fully-fledged Kubernetes cluster with the support level required by large organizations.

What Are the Advantages of OpenShift?

Besides being a certified Kubernetes provider and compliant with several industry standards, the biggest advantage of OpenShift is to provide a consistent and powerful developer experience in a complete package. Regardless of the environment you choose to use— on-premises, public cloud, or both—OpenShift gives your development team a seamless way to build, test, deploy, and operate their applications.

What Are the Unique Features in OpenShift?: Five Benefits Beyond Kubernetes

OpenShift offers several unique features on top of Kubernetes that enable a holistic software development experience.

1. CI/CD and Repositories

A good continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) process is a driver for a successful software development pipeline. While strictly speaking, the code repositories and CI/CD toolchain live outside of where your Kubernetes-based business applications run, they are a core part of the entire software development lifecycle.

OpenShift covers the need to implement end-to-end CI/CD pipelines quite well, offering developers tooling that enables them to code, test and deploy their application into production, making it essential to the business value creation.

Like Kubernetes itself, a big part of the tooling that OpenShift offers is based on open-source projects. The framework that enables the creation of cloud-native CI/CD pipelines is called Tekton. Tekton uses Custom Resource Definitions (CRDs) and the control plane in Kubernetes itself to define and run the needed tasks.

Software engineers can use Tekton to develop their CI/CD pipelines as code. Tekton is built on industry specifications and supports multiple environments. Also, because it’s open source and follows common standards, the pipelines created are also usable with other tooling, such as Jenkins or Knative, in addition to OpenShift.

To make the entire pipeline creation process easier and more efficient, Red Hat offers OpenShift Pipelines, a CI/CD solution that is based on Tekton and native to Kubernetes. This provides a tight integration and unified experience with other OpenShift tooling, plus enables each step of the pipeline to run in its own container and scale independently, making it more secure and robust.

2. OpenShift Monitoring and Logging

The ability to monitor an application workload and collect the logs in a central place is part of any system that follows the most basic best practices. Depending on the environment (cloud or on-prem) where your application is running, the way to implement these might vary.

The challenge with OpenShift—which is simultaneously one of its selling points—is that it can be deployed across multiple environments. If a developer has to integrate with a specific tooling in the environment where OpenShift is deployed, such as AWS CloudWatch or Azure Monitor, this will hinder the possibility of making your system applications portable across environments.

To simplify the development process and harmonize the deployment and operation of the applications, OpenShift comes out of the box with monitoring and logging capabilities.

In all fairness, OpenShift goes beyond those capabilities and covers multiple observability aspects by leveraging popular open-source projects: Prometheus for monitoring and alert management, Jaeger for transaction tracing, Kiali for dashboards and visualization, and Istion to implement a service mesh for distributed microservices architectures.

This approach can streamline the entire system operations workflow by making it efficient and consistent, regardless of the environment where the OpenShift platform is deployed.

3. The Advantages of OpenShift Security

One of the key reasons corporate customers adopt OpenShift instead of simply using Kubernetes is the enterprise-grade features it provides. That often also means that the expectations and requirements regarding security and compliance are naturally higher.

OpenShift lives up to that expectation well. In fact, Red Hat engineers are quite active in pushing security fixes to the open-source Kubernetes upstream repository to enable everyone to benefit from them as soon as possible. This is a big advantage since it might take a while before the Kubernetes next release and having these fixes generally available. With OpenShift, those security fixes are pushed to customers right away.

There are a few additional security advantages that OpenShift provides and differ from a typical Kubernetes deployment:

  • The built-in Security Context Constraint (SSC) provides default execution policies such as preventing containers to be executed with root privileges, and are extended to the Kubernetes Pod level, as Pod Security Policies (PSPs). These baseline default policies come out of the box with OpenShift and have a big impact in raising the security level of the entire Kubernetes cluster.
  • Role-based access control (RBAC) in OpenShift is a non-optional feature (contrary to a typical Kubernetes deployment). This enables different roles within the engineering team to have permissions according to the principle of least privilege. As an example, Kubernetes administrators can have full access to the cluster while software engineers are restricted to certain specific Kubernetes namespaces.
  • OpenShift comes with the Red Hat Container Catalog, which enables developers to leverage container images that were tested and certified by Red Hat and its partners. These images are monitored, updated, and regularly scanned for vulnerabilities and issues, increasing the security posture of the organization in comparison to pulling container images directly from internet repositories.

4. Developer Experience and Cost Management

Developer Experience

With Kubernetes, developers have an ecosystem of tools that can be used to harmonize the development process. From managing Kubernetes clusters with simple CLI utilities such as kubectl to using Helm Charts to define the most complex container-based application, there is an array of projects designed to make the developer experience as smooth as possible.

With OpenShift, you get a fully featured Kubernetes cluster under the hood. Therefore, all Kubernetes related tooling is compatible with OpenShift. Moreover, Red Hat enhanced the developer experience by providing complementary CLI tooling and a web-based user interface that gives control over all the OpenShift platform capabilities.

Plus, using a GitOps model, OpenShift encourages developers to perform all the configuration as code, backed by their familiar git repositories, to automatically push changes across one or multiple clusters, leveraging their declarative nature to minimize inconsistencies in a hybrid or multicloud Kubernetes setup.

Cost Management

Having complete visibility over operational costs is part of a modern software development process. With OpenShift, developers can use the customer portal to gain insights about their costs down to a project level and across all on-premises and public environments.

The customer portal enables decision makers to track cost trends and have visibility on their spending relative to the business outcomes. Plus, if engineers assign tags to their OpenShift resources, they gain the ability to map costs to clusters, projects, cost centers, applications, among other resource types. That gives users a tremendous amount of granularity for cost exploration and enables developers to optimize their resource allocation.

5. Hybrid OpenShift Architecture and Cloud Enablement

While OpenShift is mostly associated with non-cloud environments, it’s worth understanding that its potential goes far beyond your local data center. In addition to an on-premises self-managed environment, OpenShift customers can choose to deploy and operate in the AWS or Microsoft Azure public clouds (note there is currently no OpenShift managed service for Google Cloud). This approach makes it easier to transition from on-premises to public cloud or operate a workload on a hybrid cloud architecture.

Two lesser known OpenShift product offerings are ROSA (Red Hat OpenShift in AWS) and ARO (Azure Red Hat OpenShift). These go way beyond enabling customers to deploy and operate OpenShift in their preferred cloud provider. Both ROSA and ARO are fully managed services, provided by Red Hat jointly with AWS and Microsoft respectively.

In practice, this means that customers can request an OpenShift platform, based on Kubernetes and provided completely as-a-service with zero infrastructure management and great enterprise support in the public cloud. This approach enables organizations to decrease their operational overhead when switching over to cloud and benefit from the same tooling and developer experience they had on-premises.

How About Data and Persistent Storage?

With more complex application architectures and deployments that extend beyond a single environment towards one or multiple cloud providers, it’s worth reflecting on the data management capabilities.

While OpenShift gives a consistent development environment in both on-premises and cloud, it does not solve data migration and availability challenges. For a complete experience and access to data management features such as data protection, cloning, built-in Ansible automation support, among others, customers can take advantage of NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP with OpenShift.

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Bruno Almeida, Principal Architect & Technology Advisor

Principal Architect & Technology Advisor

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