Linux is the core of today’s operating system open source software development, and containers are a core feature of Linux. Linux containers and the Kubernetes community supporting them enable agencies to quickly stand up, distribute and scale applications in the hybrid clouds supporting the IT architecture of today’s digitally transformed government.
But agencies need more than the speed and flexibility of containers and the power of Kubernetes to take full advantage of today’s hybrid cloud environment. They need open source enterprise software with full lifecycle support and a full complement of hardware certifications to ensure portability across platforms.
It is important to remember that Kubernetes and containers do nothing by themselves. They must integrate with all components of an overall solution to ensure that applications and workloads will operate as expected in a hybrid environment. This enterprise solution must be supported to ensure that it will continue to operate as long as needed. Achieving this means that rather than relying on open source projects or vendors that deliver just Kubernetes and containers, agencies should take full advantage of the commercial open source products already in their environment.
One hundred percent of federal agencies already are using Red Hat, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux provides a stable foundation with a common development environment to help agencies operate, manage and secure their infrastructures over the long term.
The power of iterative development
Open source software has paved the way for explosive innovation in the digital world. Developer communities—building on each other’s work to address emerging needs—have powered the evolution of data centers and cloud computing as well as technologies that drive this innovation to the end user, such as the Mozilla Firefox Web browser, Apache HTTP Server, and the BIND open source DNS server. This iterative development allows communities to address challenges and create new functionality at a speed not otherwise possible.
For the results of this innovation to be robust and viable requires a long-term commitment of time and resources. Open source projects such as the Linux kernel and Kubernetes thrive in engaged communities of developers and users addressing community-defined issues. To produce stable solutions that support enterprise requirements, these communities must not only work quickly, be willing to fail and to break things in order to find what works, they must also be prepared to support these solutions for the long term and across a variety of platforms for the full life cycle of the project.
“At the end of the day, that road is neither simple nor easy nor cheap,” said Jim Tyrrell, of Red Hat’s public sector team. The results of many open source projects can be used free of charge, but in the end “open source is free only if your time has no value.”
Given the crucial role open source plays in today’s government enterprise, agencies must base their platform choices on long-term supportability as well as rapid innovation. If an agency is considering an open source project, it should:
Sign up for and participate in the mailing list,
Contribute to the software being developed,
Join the IRC or Slack channel,
Deliver a CI/CD pipeline to deploy security updates on day of release, and
Participate in meet-ups or attend conferences.
Product, not project
When agencies are choosing platforms to run their enterprises, they need to understand that a commercial open source-based product might be the best choice. Although both products and projects build from the same principles of community and innovation, they differ greatly in their ability to offer a stable, secure, cost-effective and supportable solution over the long term.
For 15 years, Red Hat has certified that all of the pieces in its enterprise application platform will work together from day one of deployment through the end of life. When software is upgraded and patched for security, Red Hat certifies the surrounding ecosystems to assure that the entire platform will continue to operate as expected. Red Hat provides agencies the “one throat to choke” that ensures accountability and reliability.
Red Hat’s knowledge and experience enables it to provide long-term support for its Kubernetes and Enterprise Linux, allowing agencies to future-proof their investments in containers and clouds. Not only will Red Hat software be upgraded and secured, users can be sure it will run on their platform of choice, whether it is on premises or in a public or a private cloud.