Distributed IT systems underscore need for an automation mindset

Businesses are building a massively distributed IT system that comprises on-premises apps, public clouds and edge computing — and the challenge is to manage, secure and scale them in a cost-effective way.

The key solution for dealing with this vast ecosystem efficiently is automation, according to Ashesh Badani (pictured, left), senior vice president of cloud platforms at Red Hat Inc. It is about adopting the automation mindset.

“There’s always this notion about developers, developers, developers, and that still holds true,” he said. “But, increasingly, as the scope and complexity of applications and services that are deployed in this heterogeneous environment increases, it’s more and more about automation, automation, automation.”

Badani, Joe Fitzgerald (pictured, right), vice president and general manager of management and automation at Red Hat, and Stefanie Chiras (pictured, middle), senior vice president and general manager of the RHEL Business Unit at Red Hat, spoke with Dave Vellante, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, during AnsibleFest 2020. They discussed the importance of automation to scale in this ecosystem, what enterprises are demanding from their partners, and how Red Hat’s Ansible is furthering its offerings to serve the enterprise. (* Disclosure below.)

Hybrid cloud expanded to include edge computing

In the past, the hybrid cloud was considered a combination of only on-prem and off-prem applications; today it’s perceived to be much broader. “Now hybrid translates to many layers in the stack. It can be VMs-hybrid with containers, it can be on-prem with off-prem, and clearly with edge involved as well,” Chiras said.

To bridge the gap between these different environments, Red Hat created OpenShift and RHEL, which allow organizations to use a single language to access all systems and deploy applications, and then automate everything.

“When I look at what customers require, it’s all about speed of building, deploying and running applications,” Chiras explained. “It’s [also] about stability… and, third, is all about scale. That’s where all of this automation comes in.”

But putting it all together does not come without difficulties. One is that edge computing has its “own island,” with different deployment models. And managing or automating something at the edge and with a very small footprint of some device across a constrained network is very different than managing things in a public cloud or in a data center, according to Fitzgerald.

“That’s where I think Red Hat is really focused, and that is our sweet spot — helping people manage those environments,” he said.

Red Hat begins to see edge deployments coming in. “We’re seeing big build-outs in the work we’re doing with telecom providers from a 5G perspective that’s helping drive that, [and] we’re seeing IoT-like opportunities with the automotive sector or some in the retail sector as well,” Badani said.

Automation reached OpenShift Kubernetes

The automation solution for these heterogenous environments also embraces containers and Kubernetes. Red Hat invested early in Kubernetes, through its OpenShift platform, to turn Kubernetes from a useful container tool into a foundational platform for hybrid cloud architectures.

“What we’re working on is to ensure that if you make a commitment to Kubernetes — and increasingly we see lots of customers around the world doing that — we ensure that we’re working closely, that our entire portfolio helps support that,” Badani explained.

While Kubernetes is in seventh place among the top 10 open-source projects based on the number of contributors, Ansible is in ninth, according to Fitzgerald. To integrate these two strong communities, Red Hat extended Ansible’s automation to OpenShift.

“There’s a lot of other things that have to be done when you deploy container-based applications, whether it’s infrastructure automation to expand and manage and automate the infrastructure … [whether it’s] connecting to other systems in the environment that need to be integrated around ITSM or systems of record, change management, inventory, cost, things like that,” Fitzgerald concluded.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of AnsibleFest 2020. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for AnsibleFest 2020. Neither Red Hat Inc., the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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