Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Monday, February 18, 2019
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Red Hat Previews Atomic Container Host 

Red Hat launched a lightweight Linux container host initiative last year called "Project Atomic" just as the application container movement was gaining market momentum. The company said this week it is finally offering a "preview" of its Atomic Enterprise Platform container infrastructure in connection with the latest release of its OpenShift Enterprise platform.

Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) said the container platform preview is based on a scale-out cluster Linux Atomic Host, the company's lightweight operating system tailored for application containers. The platform also runs on instances of the company's flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.

Those options would allow the delivery of both cloud-native and traditional applications via containers, the company stressed.

The Atomic platform also uses the Docker runtime and packaging format along with a specification developed by the Open Container Initiative. OCI includes a growing list of hyper-scale platform vendors along with financial services giants like Goldman Sachs.

The Red Hat platform's orchestration and cluster services are based on the Kubernetes orchestration tool championed by Google (NASDAQ: GOOG). Kubernetes provides management of increasing complex multi-containers services in which some apps must be linked while other require isolation from each other. The tool also handles scheduling across a host cluster.

(Kubernetes developers are meeting this week in San Francisco. Datawise.io, which is developing networking and storage extensions, announced it is contributing I/O resource scheduling capabilities to Kubernetes designed to help scale cloud-native applications.)

As application containers slowly move to production workloads, Red Hat also stressed it would leverage its "certified" container ecosystem rolled out earlier this year as a way to secure the delivery of applications based on Docker containers.

The Atomic platform preview also includes networking and storage plug-ins. The networking features are based on the Open vSwitch, which is billed as operating as a soft switch running within a hypervisor or as the control stack for switching silicon. Meanwhile, persistent storage plug-ins help enable stateful services running in containers.

Atomic also includes registry services designed to provide more secure management and storage of shared container images. Docker recently addressed security concerns related to application images stored in its Docker Hub central repository with the acquisition of Tutum. Among the startup's offerings is a tool kit that allows application images stored in Docker Hub or other registries to be deployed on premise or public cloud infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the OpenShift Enterprise 3.1 container application platform released by Red Hat on Monday (Nov. 9) is based on the dominant Docker format Linux containers, RHEL 7 and Kubernetes. The application platform targets stateful and stateless applications running on private or public cloud infrastructure.

Red Hat also said it has integrated its versions of Gluster and Ceph storage with OpenShift 3.1 and Atomic Enterprise Platform as a way to provide elastic storage for applications or micro-services running in containers.

It said OpenShift Enterprise 3.1 is scheduled for general availability at the end of November, coinciding with the availability of Red Hat Atomic Enterprise Platform Public Preview.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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