Cloud Paks on Red Hat OpenShift a ‘bold step’ for IBM

A top APAC executive at IBM says the move to containerise and run its software on Red Hat OpenShift is a big step forward for the company

IBM’s move to underpin its cloud and software portfolio with Red Hat OpenShift is a “bold step” for the company following its acquisition of the open-source juggernaut, according to one of its top executives in the Asia-Pacific region.

Speaking to Southeast Asian reporters on the sidelines of the inaugural IBM Think 2019 in Singapore, Andreas Hartl, general manager and cloud leader at IBM Asia-Pacific, said the recent announcement of Cloud Paks, a set of pre-integrated and containerised software that runs on Red Hat OpenShift, will enable enterprises to run the same software across different platforms.

“It will run on the mainframe, on the IBM public cloud and on any other infrastructure that is containerised,” Hartl said. “But not only that, it will run on any public cloud, including Google, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Alibaba Cloud and others that might come in future.”

IBM’s latest move in the hybrid cloud space is aimed at turning Red Hat OpenShift into the leading platform for containers, Hartl said. “And the good news is the world has agreed on container standards, which are what we are building on,” he added.

Hartl said Cloud Paks is particularly relevant to the four million developers in Asia-Pacific, where standardised platforms are preferred so applications can be developed once and run anywhere. “This is a very, very big step forward and a very bold step for us as a company,” he said.

Through Cloud Paks, IBM has containerised more than 100 software products, including the WebSphere middleware, Cognos business intelligence suite and the Db2 database. These make up 80% of the products that Hartl is overseeing in the region, accounting for about 90% of revenues that his team is bringing in through containers.

IBM also claims that Cloud Paks, which also comes with common security and identity services, as well as logging, monitoring and auditing capabilities, will reduce development time by up to 84% and operational expenses by up to 75%.

Cloud Paks for Applications, for example, allows developers to quickly deploy an application across different platforms, complete with JBoss runtimes as well as WebSphere.

Besides Cloud Paks, IBM is also enabling access to Red Hat OpenShift on its IBM Z mainframe servers as part of ongoing efforts to modernise the mainframe platform.

“If you think of the proprietary nature of mainframes, many years ago a Cobol program was a million-dollar program and you don’t want that anymore,” he said. “We want to standardise [programs] across every platform and that includes the mainframe.”

However, it remains uncertain if the latest efforts by IBM to modernise the mainframe will stem the tide of enterprises that are looking to move off the platform.

In Singapore, DBS Bank has openly declared that it is ditching the mainframe, while Singapore Press Holdings CTO Glen Francis told attendees at a recent HPE event in Singapore that the media and property company had shut down one of its mainframes recently.

Apart from mainframes, IBM is also making Red Hat OpenShift available on IBM Cloud. Although major public cloud services including Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services already support Red Hat OpenShift, Hartl said IBM Cloud runs the container orchestration platform natively.

“We run it natively as a PaaS [platform-as-a-service] platform, whereas on other services it sits on top,” he said, adding that enterprises can also create OpenShift clusters for free, along with other services such as testing and development which are free for a year.

According to IDC, spending on public cloud services and infrastructure in Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, is forecasted to $26bn in 2019, an increase of 47.1% over 2018. China is expected to be the largest market for public cloud services in the region this year, followed by Australia and India.

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