Red Hat Expands Docker Collaboration on App Containerization

Red Hat wants to streamline the process of application delivery and orchestration across bare metal systems, virtual machines and private and public clouds via software containers -- and it's collaborating with Docker, the commercial entity behind the leading open-source container engine, to do it.

The two companies made the announcement today at the Red Hat Summit in San Francisco. During a press conference at the event, Paul Cormier, president of Red Hat's Products and Technologies group, told reporters that lightweight, portable, self-sufficient software containers, such as those produced by Docker, allow developers to "cross these four footprints" in a much more efficient and maintainable way.

The two organizations began working together last year to extend support for Docker in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). The new collaboration will enhance interoperability between Docker's hosted services and Red Hat certified container hosts and services.

"We didn't wake up one day and say, let's do containers within Linux," Cormier said. "This has been an evolution of what we've been talking about [at Red Hat], that it's all about the application." He added: "We're finally at the point where we can now have a solid container strategy that makes the app more mobile."

Red Hat also announced two other "Linux Container innovations." The first, Project Atomic, is a new community initiative through which the company hopes to develop lightweight host operating systems for containerized applications. These hosts will be "based on next-generation capabilities in the Linux ecosystem." The ultimate goal of the project is to create a variant of RHEL, dubbed Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host, which will debut with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.

With Project Atomic, Red Hat is "making an edition to the RHEL family," Cormier said -- which matters because applications depend on consistently available services within the operating system. "When RHEL that runs on bare metal goes to 7.1 or 7.2," he added, "then Red Hat Enterprise Atomic will go to that same 7.1 or 7.2...Whether you're running on a bare metal system that has been in the back closet for four years, or whether you're running that application out in someone's public cloud, it's important that that application knows and understands what's underneath."

Project Atomic will support the larger Linux community (the so-called "upstream community"), including the Fedora Linux distro and CentOS, with hosts, the company said.

Red Hat also unveiled a new sub-project of OpenShift Origin called GearD. OpenShift Origin is the free and open-source app hosting platform on which the company's OpenShift Platform-as-a-Service is based. With the GearD command-line client and agent for integrating Docker containers with systemd Linux service manager across multiple hosts, Red Hat aims to develop tools for rapid application development, continuous integration, delivery, and deployment of application code to containerized app environments.

Red Hat also plans to expand its RHEL 7 high-touch beta program to include Atomic Host and Docker technologies, the company said.

The project, launched last year, has attracted more than 400 developers and generated more than 1.4 million downloads, the company says. The Docker public index currently includes more than 9,000 "Dockerized" applications.

"Industry interest in containers in general, and Docker in particular, has grown considerably in the past year," said IDC analyst Al Hilwa in a statement. "Red Hat's embrace of this technology marks an important milestone, as it demonstrates that Docker and containerization have become suitable for many production environments. Organizations looking to simplify application deployment and improve operational efficiency and infrastructure utilization should consider standardized containerization approaches such as Docker."

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].