Red Hat kicks off annual Summit by leaning dev-wards

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Stephen Lawson/IDG

Red Hat’s annual summit opened today with the announcement of three new products aimed with uncharacteristic directness at developers, rather than the company’s usual target of IT operations staff. is the company’s free SaaS development environment, specifically designed for cloud-native apps, that lets geographically far-flung teams work together and automatically containerizes code for easy deployment. The environment builds on open source projects like Kubernetes-focused development platform fabric8, IDE Eclipse Che, and automation server Jenkins.

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Red Hat senior director of developer programs Harry Mower said that an open application development environment is increasingly important to modern businesses.

“Next-generation products and services require next-generation development tools, a need that can be costly, time-consuming and difficult to implement for organizations that didn’t originate in the software world,” he said in a statement. will be made available first as a developer preview, and more information can be found here.

Red Hat – which is increasingly focused on containerization via frameworks like Kubernetes and Docker – also announced a Container Health Index, an assessment service that grades the security impact of the software images within containers on an A-F scale. Red Hat says the index goes beyond a simple vulnerability count, instead delivering a more holistic appreciation of a given container’s potential security impact on a larger system. The index is available now as part of Red Hat’s container catalog.

The company also announced custom runtimes for Openshift, designed to make it easier for businesses to deliver microservices – specifically, Node.js, Spring Boot, Eclipse Vert.x, and WildFly Swarm are all planned for inclusion. They’re currently in tech preview, and an official launch is scheduled for “later this year.”

“Hitting on all cylinders”

These are strong moves for Red Hat, according to Larry Carvalho, research manager of IDC's worldwide Cloud Platform and Developer Services research practice, and they address a weak spot in the company’s previous offerings.

“I think that was a big missing gap in what Red Hat did overall,” he told Network World. “They were very focused on operations, but with the … application demand, it became very important for vendors to combine what they were doing on the operations side and put an abstracted infrastructure in front of the developer.”

Moreover, Carvalho said, Red Hat’s strongest suit has never been moving quickly to adopt new capabilities, but its embrace of Kubernetes as the container technology of the future has been rapid and enthusiastic, and the decision to reorient Openshift as a container platform, instead of a SaaS offering, was wise.

“It’s a really good move for them. Overall I think they are hitting on all cylinders,” he said.

The Hat marches on

The earliest indicator of this particular shift from Red Hat may have been the company’s acquisition of Ansible, an IT automation platform, in 2015. Ansible began life as an open source project and is, if not the darling of the devops crowd – that title probably goes to rival Puppet, according to Matt Asay, writing for Infoworld here – a key factor underpinning the growth in value of the company’s cloud products like OpenShift.

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