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Microsoft and Red Hat Extend Azure Integration with OpenShift

Microsoft and IBM subsidiary Red Hat are extending their integration of Azure and OpenShift to include support for Azure Arc for OpenShift and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). The upcoming support, announced this week at the Red Hat Summit 2020 online event, will provide "a more consistent management and operational experience," the two companies said in a statement.

The two companies began integrating Microsoft's Azure cloud platform with Red Hat's OpenShift Kubernetes container platform in May of last year. That integration allowed enterprises to run container-based production workloads via an OpenShift managed service on Azure, jointly operated by Microsoft and Red Hat.

Azure Arc and Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Azure Arc has been described by Microsoft as an extension of the Azure Resource Manager service. It enables the management of Windows and Linux servers, plus Azure services, at scale across any environment (multi-cloud, edge, and on-premises). Azure Arc is still at the preview stage after first being introduced at the Microsoft Ignite conference back in November.

"Many of our customers have workloads sprawling across clouds, datacenters, and edge locations," said Arpan Shah, GM of Microsoft's Azure group, in a blog post. "Azure Arc enables customers to centrally manage, secure, and control RHEL servers and OpenShift clusters from Azure at scale."

The list of new capabilities for managing RHEL workloads coming to Azure Arc includes:

  • Use of the Azure Portal to view an inventory and conduct a search
  • Use of the Azure Policy service to apply policies and manage compliance for servers and clusters
  • Use of Azure security policies and role-based access control

A prebuilt image of SQL Server 2019 for RHEL 8 is currently downloadable from the Azure Marketplace. Other capabilities coming to Azure Arc include "reporting on expiring certificates, password complexity, managing SSH keys, and enforcing disk encryption," according to the announcement.

Azure Arc and Azure Red Hat OpenShift
The Azure Red Hat OpenShift service for containerized applications went live almost a year ago. It combines Red Hat's Kubernetes container orchestration service with Azure services support.

Azure Red Hat Open Shift adds support in OpenShift 4 for "hybrid and enterprise customer scenarios," according to the announcement. One of those OpenShift 4 additions is the use of "private hybrid clusters" using new "private API and ingress endpoints." 

"With private endpoints and Azure Express Route support we're enabling private hybrid clusters, allowing our mutual customers to extend their on-premises solutions to Azure," the announcement explained.

OpenShift 4 also adds the ability to tap three Azure Availability Zones in supported Azure regions for high availability, in keeping with the Azure Red Hat OpenShift's 99.9 percent service-level agreement. 

A third OpenShift 4 enhancement is the addition of a "cluster-admin" role on Azure Red Hat OpenShift clusters, which enables full cluster customization capabilities.

Another OpenShift 4 addition is a bolstering of compliance certifications. Azure Red Hat OpenShift is "now PCI DSS, HITRUST, and FedRAMP certified."
In addition, there were some GitHub improvements. Azure Arc or the Azure Policy service can now be used to apply policies to "applications defined in GitHub repositories," which can be automatically deployed to "any repo-linked OpenShift cluster," keeping policies up to date, the announcement indicated. 

In addition, GitHub pull requests can now be used to globally distribute new application versions when using Azure Arc to manage OpenShift clusters.

Other Azure Arc and OpenShift enhancements included:

  • Use of Azure SQL Managed Instance on OpenShift
  • Use of Microsoft SQL Big Data Cluster on OpenShift

SQL Server 2019 Support on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8
Microsoft also announced this week that SQL Server 2019 will run well on RHEL 8. In addition, it's possible to use it as a service via a preconfigured SQL Server 2019 on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Azure Virtual Machine image, which is available from the Azure Marketplace. 

The announcement included a note that support for the Big Data Clusters feature of SQL Server 2019 will get added to Red Hat OpenShift when SQL Server 2019 gets a future cumulative update, although the timing wasn't described. 

Here's that note:

SQL Server 2019 became generally available on Nov 1, 2019. Among the capabilities introduced with this release is Big Data Clusters, a new deployment pattern for SQL Server that adds Apache HDFS and Spark for big data storage and analytics, which will be supported on Red Hat OpenShift in an upcoming cumulative update release of SQL Server 2019. This deployment pattern runs entirely as Linux container images on Kubernetes enabling customers to run their analytical workloads at any scale, on an integrated platform designed to derive new intelligent insights out of data.

Microsoft added that it is currently working with its customers to enhance the deployment model for using the Big Data Clusters feature with Red Hat OpenShift in such a way that "privileged containers are not required."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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