Dan's Take

Red Hat Releases Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Stack

It's a solid product that will primarily appeal to existing Red Hat customers.

Red Hat executive Irshad Raihan recently spoke to me about a software package -- Red Hat Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) -- that the company put together to address the needs of enterprises using hyperconverged systems. This package is made up of previously available Red Hat products.

Red Hat's HCI is completely open source and production ready. It's designed to address "…  challenges by integrating compute and storage together on a single server, making it a well-suited solution for low-footprint remote or branch office installations and edge computing." It has the following components:

  • Red Hat Virtualization. The company's KVM-based virtual machine software platform.
  • Red Hat Gluster Storage. The company's storage virtualization technology. The company describes this as "highly scalable software-defined storage that can be converged on the same hardware as Red Hat Virtualization hosts, removing the need for additional compute infrastructures and simplifying deployment."
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Red Hat's Linux distribution.
  • Ansible by Red Hat. An IT automation framework recently acquired by Red Hat. Ansible is designed to provide "automated installation and configuration from a central point."
Dan's Take: Going Where Others Have Gone Before
Enterprises have long segregated individual system functions like processing, networking and storage into separate devices, seeking to improve workload agility and flexibility. Unfortunately, the separation of functions increases complexity, power consumption, and use of limited datacenter floor space.

Hyper-converged systems are designed to reduce complexity by integrating these "appliance servers" into a single enclosure. They address growing workloads by adding more multi-function servers, and supporting a scale-out computing architecture.

These compact configurations also reduce the costs of administration, floor space, power consumed and heat produced.

In the past, Red Hat's technology has been supported on many of the most popular hyper-converged hardware platforms, but the enterprise had to integrate a number of separate Red Hat products. This meant developing a process to load a number of software packages, adjusting the parameters of all products to support the desired workload, then acquiring and deploying tools for distributed systems management and IT automation.

Red Hat is known for doing its best to provide open source technology that's tested and supported together. While the installed base would be very happy to see that Red Hat is doing its best to make the installation and use of hyper-converged systems easier and provide better, more integrated levels of support, there's nothing really new in this package.

Red Hat is competing on two fronts here: both with HCI vendors like Nutanix, HPE SimpliVity and Stratoscale as well as suppliers of various types of virtualization technology, such as VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, DataCore and many others that have been offering technology for these configurations for quite some time.

If your company already uses Red Hat as one of its prime suppliers of software, this package should be of great interest. If your company is already working with technology offered by others, this package will likely be of marginal interest.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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