Fans of the open source ecosystem will undoubtedly recognize the names Red Hat and CoreOS. Red Hat has has long been the leader of open source in the enterprise with a huge following of many community projects including Fedora, Ansible, Ceph, and many others. CoreOS has just been added to the list of acquisitions with a price tag estimated at 250 million dollars.
CoreOS comes with some very popular products which include CoreOS Linux (known as Container Linux), Quay (an enterprise-grade container registry), and the Tectonic platform that should lead to the largest opportunity to expand in the fast-growing Kubernetes ecosystem. There are also some strong engineering resources and a well-respected founding team who will join Red Hat as part of the deal.
What does this mean for Red Hat and CoreOS?
For the CoreOS team, this is a good opportunity to open up to a larger base of customers and to have access to a much wider array of engineering, R&D, sales, and marketing resources. For Red Hat, this is the chance to remove one more name from the competitive alternatives they face, and to start looking for ways to integrate the best of CoreOS and dd Hat’s family of products.
It is difficult to say how quickly these products and teams can merge. Some of the products may even appear to be competitive and redundant (CoreOS Container Linux and Project Atomic for example) which makes the long term future an unknown. Since open source products can gain wide adoption without a sales force pushing them into the market, there is also a chance to keep many options alive.
Kubernetes Inside, Community Everywhere
Both OpenShift and Tectonic are built with the purpose of making and enterprise-grade Kubernetes implementation. Tectonic is available for free today for 10 nodes or less which is a compelling offer. What operations teams realize quickly is that it’s more than just running OpenShift and Tectonic that is the challenge. Delivering these new services and platforms means also having supporting infrastructure (PXE, DNS, etc.) to serve up the IaaS/PaaS platforms. It moves the bottleneck into different areas and also reminds us that networking is a key skill for today’s IT Ops teams.
OpenShift also has a free option available and Red Hat opens up access to lots of resources through its developer programs. What makes both OpenShift and Tectonic popular is the option to get full support when you aren’t feeling like living the DIY lifestyle in your production data center. Tectonic and OpenShift also run on top of public cloud platforms for teams who don’t want to spin up the physical or virtualized servers themselves. If your organization is already cloud-focused, then making the jump to layering open technologies on top of the on-demand IaaS is a short step many are willing to take.
Rocketing past Docker Containers
One more very interesting thing about CoreOS is the rkt (pronounced Rocket) application container engine. Docker still leads the brand ownership of containers in the technology landscape, but that lead is fading. There is a strong push form Red Hat and CoreOS as well as the overall open source container-focused community to bring the Open Containers Initiative to every data center and cloud. Docker may have been an early supporter, but by creating the open initiative, they also opened the door to becoming a part of the landscape instead of the core of it.
It is early to tell where Docker will go next as a company, and with CoreOS being snapped up by Red Hat, it probably makes some Docker investors a little nervous that the early buyers are already moving on.