Red Hat Summit 2017: IT Automation Takes One AWS-sized Step Closer to Business Innovation

Brad Shimmin – Research Director, Business Technology and Software

Summary Bullets:

• Red Hat’s re-energized partnership with Amazon and its continued investment in Red Hat Insights smartly emphasizes AI-driven IT automation as a way to root out the foibles of human-mediated decisions in optimizing hybrid cloud/premises environments.

• Beyond automation, however, Red Hat’s growing focus on big data points to a distinct need within the industry to bring both operational and business analytics together within a single pane of glass.

At Red Hat’s annual customer event in Boston, Massachusetts last week, the industry’s leading purveyor of all things Linux rolled out a series of announcements relating to analytics-driven IT automation and private cloud enablement – two topics that are impactful on their own but superb when combined.
Red Hat already has a lot of savory-sweet treats at the ready with cloud-savvy infrastructure solutions like Ansible (embodied in Ansible Tower), Insights, OpenShift Container Platform, CloudForms cloud management et al. Of course these stack and stack orchestration offerings need something to unite and coordinate them, namely public cloud platforms. For that reason, Red Hat has spent the past few years steadily building up an influential cadre of public cloud partners, including SAP, Microsoft and Amazon, with the intent of equipping its enterprise customers with a single hybrid infrastructure that’s predominantly cloud agnostic.

As you might expect, then, during its customer event, Red Hat kept this momentum going by expanding its partnership with Amazon to fully bake access to Amazon Web Services (AWS) into its OpenShift Container Platform. At a product-level, this in itself is an important move, because it allows Red Hat to configure and deploy key Amazon technologies like Redshift, Aurora, and Elastic MapReduce (EMR) from within the Red Hat OpenShift console. But to me it signals an important opportunity to move DevOps one step closer to business outcomes through the common language of analytics.

For Red Hat, analytics means Red Hat Insights, itself a SaaS offering, which sits alongside Red Hat’s entire software stack. It uses predictive analytics to anticipate and recommend actions necessary to ensure the performance, availability, stability, and security of enterprise workloads across both private and public cloud environments. The problem is that Red Hat Insights emphasizes and does not move beyond operational analytics. As I mentioned late last year (See That’s Right, IoT Needs the Outdated Notion of Middleware, October 14, 2016), application infrastructure vendors have a significant role to play in the enterprises’ march to the cloud, particularly in marshalling and making sense of big data.

With the degree of transparency afforded by Red Hat Insights and its implicit support of big data resources like EMR and Redshift, there’s no reason why Red Hat can’t leap beyond operational efficiency to either support or provide the same capability to business owners. Why stop short of measuring and responding to KPIs specific not just to database performance but to business outcomes as well? I would love to see a product like Red Hat Insights use its machine learning (ML) to predict and automatically respond to business issues that may not be easily associated with operational performance. Mind you, I’m not saying that Red Hat has to shoulder this burden on its own, or that Red Hat Insights is incomplete. It just seems that when DevOps begins speaking the same language as business (AI-driven predictive, nay prescriptive analytics), it’s high time we brought the two together. I know right now it’s unlikely that we’ll see a single solution that blends Amazon QuickSight and Red Hat Insights. But who knows. If we can unite cloud and premises, surely we can bring together a few KPIs that are common to both DevOps and business owners.

About Brad Shimmin
As Principal Analyst for Collaboration and Conferencing at Current Analysis, Brad analyzes the rapidly expanding use of collaboration software and services as a means of improving business agility, fostering employee optimization and driving business opportunities.

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