The IBM/Red Hat Acquisition: The Common Unifier Across Clouds and Platforms

Way back in November, 2018, Clabby Analytics wrote a blog entitled “IBM’s Red Hat Acquisition: The Lowest Common Denominator” that provided our thoughts about what the forthcoming acquisition might mean to IBM, Red Hat and the customers of those two companies. In that blog we talked about how Red Hat could supply IBM with a “lowest common denominator” delivering a “common infrastructure [that] promotes program-to-program communications; it allows for configuration and security to be administered uniformly across systems environments; it facilitates communications and networking; and it provides systems/storage/network management facilities.”

The blog goes on to say that Red Hat could “become the lowest common denominator for the whole ecosystem for modern, open systems, representing the baseline code that could drive everyone’s hardware; that could support anybody’s cloud infrastructure; that could control the entire security layer; that could offer high availability extensions; that could enable massively scalable clustered, parallel systems – and so on.

We also suggested that “IBM could then take a lot of the value-added extensions from its many operating systems and start cascading that value into Red Hat – elevating Red Hat’s commercial strengths and extending those strengths to the open source community – which would then build even more value-add on top of the IBM-enriched operating system… [Red Hat and IBM] will be able to create open and flexible interfaces to support industry, ecosystem and community innovation around IBM’s key strategic initiatives: artificial intelligence, cloud computing, analytics, and… will be better able to manage across multi-provider private/public/hybrid clouds (because IBM will create an open hybrid multi-cloud platform based on the most basic building blocks.)”

Well, low and behold, this is exactly what IBM did…

IBM’s Recent Research Analyst Systems Briefing

Last week IBM provided a group of technology research analysts with an overview of IT infrastructure solutions – and with a review of how each architecture is executing to plan. Brian Gracely, Senior Director, Product Strategy at Red Hat led the discussion with how OpenShift (a family of containerization software developed by Red Hat) is enabling the hybrid cloud model (where different hardware and other cloud infrastructures can play together in traditional IT, private cloud and public cloud environments in a standardized fashion.)

IBM executives then presented one slide that sums-up what Red Hat and IBM have been up to since the acquisition. Together, the two companies have focused on helping customers: 1) modernize and containerize applications; 2) establish low latency integration between cloud-native apps and traditional workloads by co-locating them; and, 3) Make cloud-native apps secure, scalable and resilient with co-optimized software and hardware infrastructure. (These points, in a nutshell, are exactly what our blog indicated would happen.)

IBM’s value-add to the evolving hybrid cloud environment has involved integration work – adding value and simplification using IBM Cloud Paks. Cloud Paks are integrated sets of AI-infused software solutions for the hybrid cloud that help information technology (IT) executives and administrators fully implement intelligent workflows within cloud environments.

Over the past two years, IBM has introduced 6 Cloud Paks:

1. Cloud Pak for Applications (designed to reduce development time by up to 84%);
2. Cloud Pak for Data (designed to make data ready for artificial intelligence in hours, not days);
3. Cloud Pak for Integration (designed to eliminate 33% of integration costs);
4. Cloud Pak for Automation (designed to reduce manual processes by up to 80%);
5. Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management (designed to reduce IT OPEX by up to 75%); and,
6. Cloud Pak for Security (designed to reduce data compliance and security costs up to 20%).

After the Red Hat presentation, each IBM IT Infrastructure group (Z and LinuxONE , Power Systems and the Storage group) – took the opportunity to explain how each group is committed to containerized OpenShift hybrid computing – while also taking the opportunity to highlight each platform’s specific value-adds.

IBM’s Power Systems group provided proof points that show how customers are integrating and co-locating POWER solutions by mixing existing applications (mission critical/data intensive) with new, emerging applications (containerized/cloud native as offered through the Red Hat acquisition). The Power Systems group then went on to explain the particular value add its servers bring to the hybrid cloud model including the efficient scaling of cloud infrastructure; more work out of fewer servers; superior cloud native application performance (due to low-latency connections between applications and data); and proven platform-level security with zero security vulnerabilities when using POWER hypervisor, as well as proven reliability (less than 2 minutes per year vs. an HPE [Intel] environment that is down @43 minutes per year – per this ITIC report.)

Next came the IBM Z and LinuxONE group’s turn to explain how its systems are beating to the same drum notes as the rest of the company by supporting OpenShift hybrid deployments and making use of IBM Cloud Paks. The adoption patterns that this group is seeing are: 1) cloud-in-a-box; digital transformation and modernization of z/OS environments (7x shorter batch windows, 5x better transaction response time; and “extreme” consolidation and data serving. IBM Z and LinuxONE customers are seeing improved operational management by using the Red Hat OpenShift and common industry tools to build once and deploy anywhere; seeing enhanced performance. The key point here is that IBM Z and LinuxONE groups are on board, each taking care of existing customers while deploying solutions and Cloud Paks on Red Hat OpenShift architecture.

The Storage group discussed a whole suite of products that have tight integration with Red Hat – including a new product that has been brought to market since the acquisition. These product offerings include IBM DS8900F, IBM FlashSystem, IBM Spectrum Scale; IBM Spectrum Discover; IBM Spectrum Virtualize, IBM Cloud Object Storage, and IBM Storage Suite for IBM Cloud Paks – with Red Hat bring additional storage solutions with Red Hat Ceph Storage and Red Hat OperShift Container Storage. The storage group noted that some of the distinct advantages offered with IBM Storage software and products include:

• Speed – Fastest application response time latencies as low as 18 microseconds and IOPS up to 18 million;
• Availability – Seven nines (99.99999), with a statistical average of 3 seconds down time in a year;
• Security — Secure, fast and seamless data movement to hybrid cloud and object environments;
• Scalability – Data lakes scalable to yottabyte configurations with performance up to 2.5TB/s;
• Protection – Malware and ransomware protection with Spectrum Protect Suite and IBM Safeguarded Copy;
• Encryption – 100% data encryption, at rest, in-flight and in the cloud.

Summary Observations

IBM’s IT Infrastructure groups all reaffirmed their commitments to Red Hat OpenShift architecture, containerization and security – while highlighting the specific value-add that each platform is bringing to the picture. It was refreshing to see that all of IBM’s platforms are committed to the same hybrid model of computing – while also serving other customer needs (such as batch computing or requirements for very high transaction rates.)

IBM started its journey to the open, hybrid cloud under its former chairman of the board Ginni Rometty and is continuing the journey under the new CEO, Arvind Krishna. What I’m seeing is good leadership and the unification of IBM’s server/storage lines using Red Hat technologies combined with IBM Cloud Pak value-adds to build the system-transparent, open hybrid cloud of the future.