How Open Source Software and Software-Defined Infrastructure Are Making In-house IT Relevant Again

by Sarangan Rangachari

Over the last decade, there has been a steady stream of CIOs moving away from proprietary stacks and buying into the vision of open source software running on industry standard hardware. Clearly, open source isn’t a science project any more; it’s quickly become not just acceptable, but preferable in today’s business environments, and is powering some of the world’s most demanding enterprise networks.

As businesses seek to innovate and deliver applications at a faster rate, they’ve turned to open source software, allowing IT shops to be much more agile in the way they build, deploy and update applications. Simultaneously, their use of open source is helping them achieve their businesses’ goals of lower capital and operating expenditures. As such, open source is helping IT teams not just remain relevant, but become an increasingly vital component driving organizational success.

Storage is one area that has been particularly instrumental in this drive, and has been significantly impacted by open source. Storage management is no longer relegated to the realm of difficult to manage hardware or legacy solutions. Open source solutions like software-defined storage have made storage not just much more cost effective but also far easier to manage and control.

Storage and the Rise of Containers
Recently, the rise of Docker shows that open source software has permeated not just the application layer, but the operating system and infrastructure layers as well. Docker democratizes Linux containers by offering a standardized way to orchestrate and manage their underlying technological components.

Linux containers have the potential to be hugely disruptive – they are poised to impact almost every process and person within the data center. Container technology will also impact how we think about storage for applications. In turn, software-defined storage will impact how storage is dynamically provisioned and managed for containerized applications, which are increasingly being managed and deployed through microservices.

In particular, software-defined storage is uniquely capable of being managed under a single control plane – something that traditional storage vendors may struggle with in containerized environments. In addition, software-defined storage can truly deliver on the promise of containers (faster app deployment and frictionless IT) by giving more control over storage to developers.

Moving to a Microservices centric approach
Microservices are small, independently deployable, and highly scalable constructs that are much easier to manage and control than traditional large-scale pieces of code. Microservices are designed to make application management more palatable; rather than having to create wholesale changes in application code, developers can simply use microservices to make more incremental and piecemeal adjustments. This helps enhance agility and overall application management, and containers can help scale microservices while enabling a smooth transition to a microservices data center.

Persistent storage managed under one control plane becomes even more critical as we head towards the mainstream adoption of microservices. Storage itself will eventually and inevitably be served out as a microservice from dedicated storage containers. These storage containers will run alongside compute containers on the same set of hosts and provisioned dynamically by one unified orchestrator (such as Google’s Kubernetes). This will go a long way in addressing storage requirements for microservices, essentially eliminating the need for independent storage appliances in the future. Open source vendors are driving the IT conversation as organizations continue to head into the era of lightweight microservices served out of highly scalable containers and serviced by storage as a microservice.

We’re witnessing new use cases for software defined storage supporting the vision of containers and microservices, across industry verticals, including some of the world’s largest telecom providers and financial institutions. We are working with enterprises building everything – from DIY analytics toolboxes to systems of engagement – deployed exclusively in containerized environments built on Red Hat Storage for added flexibility and control.

The open source ecosystem is driving the IT conversation as we head into the era of lightweight microservices served out of highly scalable containers and serviced by storage as a microservice. The vision of an open hybrid cloud, largely fueled by software defined infrastructure, allows businesses to benefit from the hands-off nature of a public cloud, while also spanning traditional on-premise and private cloud deployments, all under one umbrella, enabling greater business agility to respond to competitive and macroeconomic threats. In other words, open source software and software-defined infrastructure are together making IT as relevant as ever, while also giving business leaders the cost structure and agility they demand.

Sarangan Rangachari is the vice president and general manager of Red Hat Storage.


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