Red Hat Unveils Hybrid Cloud Management Platform

Red Hat today announced the general availability of Red Hat CloudForms, a new open source, hybrid cloud platform aimed at heterogeneous enterprise environments. The Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering is designed to provide so-called self-service access to enterprise applications and computing resources while maintaining the security, governance, and compliance disciplines of an IT-provisioned environment.

Essentially, CloudForms unifies public and private clouds into a single system, explained Bryan Che, Red Hat senior director of cloud marketing, during a webcast press conference. The platform accomplishes this in part by leveraging the open source Apache DeltaCloud project, which focuses on defining open standards and open API's around cloud computing management.

"CloudForms takes advantage of the rich open source ecosystem that has developed around be able to manage a richly diverse infrastructure," Che said. "Because you are using the open source set of APIs you have the freedom and flexibility to adapt your cloud to your choice of technology and infrastructure."

CloudForms is designed to track, register, instantiate and manage applications automatically through the entire appdev lifecycle and across disparate clouds, Che said -- from, say, development in a public cloud to QA in the corporate private cloud and security updates to apps running in production.

The system utilizes "application blueprints," which provide a templating language that describes how to instantiate an application in the cloud, Che said. CloudForms can take a blueprint that show up in its application catalog and deploy it into disparate cloud environments. The system builds to the native formats of various technologies to instantiate from the same definition, he said.

"From that same application blueprint, CloudForms will generate the blueprints, composed either by Red Hat or the administrator, and define everything that an application needs to run in a particular native environment," he said.

"An application blueprint provides a templating language that describes how to instantiate an application in the cloud," Che said. CloudForms maintains a catalogue of blueprints that it consults whenever an application is requested. "From a same application blueprint, you can manage the application across a diverse set of providers."

Che provided a demo of this blueprinting process, using an instance of WordPress deployed across three difference environments: Amazon Web Services, VMware's vSphere, and Red Hat's Virtualization platform.

"The role of enterprise IT is evolving," said Rachel Chalmers, infrastructure management analyst at The 451 Group, in a statement.  "There's no doubt that end users want to help themselves to cloud-like compute resources, but the IT department still needs to centralize deployment, management and integration. A platform like CloudForms makes it possible for organizations to build clouds that span their in-place infrastructure and expose it to a new generation of developers and end users, all without relinquishing control."

CloudForms is built on the principles of openness described in the white paper, "Why the Future of the Cloud is Open," by Red Hat's cloud evangelist Gordon Haff. In a blog  posted today, Haff declared that "a central piece" of Red Hat's cloud strategy "has always been hybrid cloud management software that spans both heterogeneous on-premise resources and public clouds running a variety of technology stacks."

Haff points to two other upstream projects for CloudForms: Aeolus, which provides the tools to describe the content of policies associated with services, and Katello, which provides the associated lifecycle management. 

CloudForms represents another step in Red Hat's ongoing open-hybrid-cloud strategy. Last year, the company launched  its OpenShift free Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) environment. Aimed at open source developers, OpenShift provides built-in management and auto-scaling capabilities that free devs from stack setup, maintenance and operational chores so they can focus on coding. It also supports a range of programming languages, including Java, Ruby, PHP, Python and Perl, as well numerous frameworks, databases and clouds.

The company plans to deliver  OpenShift into the same open hybrid cloud model, Che said. "We're using the same technology within CloudForms to power many of the same capabilities," he said.


About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].