Live from the Summit: Using Red Hat products in public clouds

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When you’re looking to run your Red Hat-based applications in a public cloud—almost always as part of a hybrid cloud deployment—there are two broad aspects to consider. The first is the overall economics and suitability of public clouds for a specific workload. The second is the specific Red Hat offerings available through the Certified Cloud Provider (CCP) program. Those were the topics covered by Red Hat’s Gordon Haff and Jane Circle in their “How to use Red Hat solutions in a public cloud” presentation.

Haff focused on general considerations associated with using public clouds. Consider the nature of your workloads. Public clouds (and indeed private clouds on infrastructure such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform) are optimally matched with workloads that are stateless, latency insensitive, and that scale out rather than up. See, for example, Cloud Infrastructure for the real world.

Workload usage matters as well. A workload with low background usage and only infrequent spikes may require using a different type of cloud instance (EC2 in the case of Amazon) from a workload with more frequent spikes. Haff offered an example of how—just for a single instance—the difference between using an Amazon Web Services (AWS) medium and 2xlarge instance at 50 percent utilization over the course of a year would result in about about a 6x and $4,000 difference in cost. Multiply that by hundreds of instances as you might see in a typical production deployment and you get a sense for how important understanding your workloads can be.

Of course, using public clouds isn’t just about the economics. Some organizations choose to use public clouds to allow them to focus on core competencies—which may not include running data centers. It also allows them, or their investors, to avoid making capital outlays for server gear against an uncertain future.

Finally, Haff discussed some of the issues associated with compliance and governance associated with public clouds. In general, the issue isn’t so much security in the classic sense as about audit and data management. Of particular concern of late is regulatory regimes governing data placement and notifications. These differ widely by country and state and even the provider nationality can matter wherever the data may physically reside. (Regional providers are sometimes preferred as a result.)

Circle then discussed how to consume Red Hat products—including but not limited to Red Hat Enterprise Linux—on Red Hat Certified Cloud Providers.  There are currently about 75 CCPs. These are trusted destinations for customers who want to use public clouds as an integral element of a hybrid cloud implementation. They offer images certified by Red Hat, provide the same updates and patches that you get directly from Red Hat, and are backed by Red Hat Global Support Services.

You can use Red Hat products in public clouds through two basic mechanisms: on-demand and Cloud Access.

On-demand consumption is available in monthly and hourly consumption models. Some public cloud providers also have reserved instances for long-term workloads. You engage with the CCP for all support issues, backed by Red Hat Global Support Services and the CCP bills you for both resource consumption and Red Hat products. The CCP handles updates through their Red Hat Update Infrastructure.

You can think of this as “RHN for the Public Cloud” and it’s immediately available and transparent to you.  Certain CCP’s (currently AWS and Google Cloud Platform) also offer a “bring your own subscription” offering called Cloud Access. Cloud Access provides portability of some Red Hat subscriptions between on-premise and public clouds. You keep your direct relationship with Red Hat but consume on a public cloud. A new Cloud Access feature, just introduced on April 7, lets you import your own image using a cloud provider’s import tools rather than just using a standard image. In the case of Cloud Access, you will typically use Red Hat Satellite to manage updates for both on premise and CCP images.

The takeaways from this talk?

  • Develop an appropriate application architecture
  • Ensure data is portable: test, test, test!
  • Understand the legal and regulatory compliance requirements of your applications
  • Isolate workloads as needed in a public cloud
  • Choose a cloud provider that is trusted and certified
  • Do the ROI to determine the right consumption model
  • Ensure consistent update for your images to maintain application certifications
  • Enable hybrid cloud management, policy, and governance

 

More information

 

Event: Red Hat Summit 2014
Date: Tues. April 15, 2014
Type: Session
Track: Cloud readiness
Title: How to use read solutions in a public cloud
Speaker: Jane Circle (Red Hat), Gordon Haff (Red Hat)