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Red Hat OpenShift 4.7 on IBM Z Is a Game Changer for Container Orchestration and Management

Red Hat recently announced OpenShift 4.7, which offers support for IBM Z mainframes. As IBM mainframes march towards modernization—a hot topic for many corporations—OpenShift 4.7 provides the orchestration and management capabilities needed for containers running on IBM Z, and specifically Linux on IBM Z. For many large mainframe customers pursuing a path of system modernization, having an enterprise container platform to now standardize on is a game changer. 

What Is Red Hat OpenShift?

Over the last 15 years, container platforms, and more specifically container orchestration, has become the backbone to keeping application development, deployment and delivery standardized and easy. I like to compare it to pizza. Think of a delicious pizza; it can be made out of hundreds of ingredients: You can use mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar. You can add pepperoni, ham or keep it vegetarian with sun dried tomatoes or peppers. You can even decide which style of dough you prefer—Neapolitan, New York, Chicago and more. Every pizza, though different, can become a masterpiece as long as it’s cooked with standardized kitchen tools—an oven that stays at the preferred temperature, a stone, a pizza cutter and a good cook. If these common tools and processes are in place, making pizza becomes quicker, easier and more enjoyable. Similarly, container orchestration platforms provide the standardized tools and processes to help support the masterpieces developers are creating. 
Red Hat OpenShift was created in 2011 to help simplify how organizations build, run and manage applications. With OpenShift, developers can code “masterpieces” in any type of runtime environment that makes sense for their project. They can quickly provision, deploy and scale their containers across almost any environment (including on-premises, public and private clouds, virtual machines, and now IBM Z). OpenShift helps developers focus on what they care about—creating applications for their business, while simplifying additional components and processes needed for these applications to successfully run in production. 
Red Hat OpenShift is built with Kubernetes at its core—an open-source project and leading container orchestration framework. At Red Hat, we believe using an open development model helps create more secure, stable and innovative technologies. For OpenShift, it has shown to be a successful direction as over 2,000 organizations across industry and region rely on OpenShift to power their enterprise applications.

Why Is OpenShift 4.7 on IBM Z Important?

OpenShift 4.7 aligns the heart of the IBM Z mainframe with the main open-source components including the Linux OS, Kubernetes and containers. This allows OpenShift on IBM Z users to take advantage of the underlying features and capabilities of the IBM Z platform—including industry-class security, unmatched scalability, 99.99999% availability on the new IBM z15 as well as enterprise subsystem support of the platform. Scaling of both the IBM Z and IBM LinuxONE platforms provides an ideal environment as the system can grow to up to 190 cores and 40TB of memory. 190 cores translates to 183,267 MIPS of processor power. 

OpenShift on IBM Z Supported Features

 Enhancements that OpenShift brings to IBM Z include: 

  • CodeReady Workspaces: OpenShift 4.7 running on IBM Z and LinuxONE supports a Kubernetes developer environment on their workstation, built on the Eclipse Che project. Developers can utilize CodeReady Workspaces for a quicker and more familiar application development and testing experience.  
  • Persistent storage: Managing storage and compute resources is an important component for production workloads which can be problematic. OpenShift on IBM Z uses the Kubernetes persistent volume framework to enable the provisioning of persistent storage for a cluster. With this, developers can use persistent knowledge of the underlying storage infrastructure. This is a key feature with iSCSI and the use of local volumes.  
  • KVM Hypervisor Support: IBM Z and LinuxONE platforms support KVM hypervisor on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.3 or later. Using KVM brings along inherent cost savings allowing users to run microservices alongside monolithic applications. Management is improved through the use of a single pane of glass technology. 
  • Fibre Channel: System administrators have the ability to provision storage clusters with persistent storage. Users can request resources as needed without needing to understand the underlying infrastructure.  
  • OpenShift Service Mesh (istio, jaeger, kiali): OpenShift Service Mesh is an operational insight platform that allows control over microservices. Users can connect, provide security and monitoring in a containerized environment for a robust visibility experience. 
  • JBoss Web Server: With OpenShift 4.7, users have access to JBoss Web Server, a powerful fully integrated and certified set of components for hosting Java web applications. It includes Apache HTTP server, Apache Tomcat, mod_jk  and mod_cluster  load balancers, and the Tomcat native library. 
  • Inherited benefits of OpenShift 4.7: OpenShift brings benefits including seamless application deployment across hybrid environments, CI/CD pipelines, auto scaling options, robust monitoring capabilities, multi-tenancy, an image registry, log aggregation, built-in operations management and more. 

Red Hat OpenShift 4.7 is a game changer for organizations who want an enterprise container platform running on the mainframe. The IBM Z and LinuxONE platforms are well-positioned to take advantage of modernization through container adoption, which was not possible before OpenShift 4.7. As customers move to position themselves towards Linux on IBM Z as well as open-source strategies, OpenShift 4.7 can assist. When you are ready to get started, we recommend taking a look at this Red Hat blog post! Pizza anyone?