What’s new in Red Hat OpenShift 4

What’s new and noteworthy in Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform 4

In May Red Hat has released Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform 4. In this first major release since completely rebased OpenShift 3 on Kubernetes over four years ago, Red Hat is going beyond Kubernetes and the fully integrated platform delivered through OpenShift, and redefining Kubernetes for the enterprise through full stack automation.

Kubernetes at the Core with Full Stack Automation

OpenShift 4 is Kubernetes at its core and in this release has completely re-architected how you install, upgrade and manage the platform, while also bringing advanced day 2 management and automation to the application services that run on the platform. These advancements are based on many new innovations in the Kubernetes with Operators as the major one.

Operators automate life cycle management of containerized applications with Kubernetes. With Operators, administrators can extend the Kubernetes API to codify operational knowledge and workflows for managing complex applications right into those services, so they run seamlessly on Kubernetes. For OpenShift customers and ISV partners, this allows them to bring the same level of management and automation found in public cloud services to their own services, while providing a consistent operating model for running these services across the hybrid cloud.

Since OpenShift itself is a fully containerized platform consisting of many different components, it also takes advantage of Operators for driving the installation and upgrades of OpenShift and all of its services. This includes Kubernetes core services, along with Prometheus, Grafana, Elasticsearch, software defined networking (SDN), container storage, registry and other components that make up the OpenShift Kubernetes platform. OpenShift 4 is an Operator-driven platform that delivers full-stack automation from top to bottom. From Kubernetes, to the core services that support the OpenShift cluster, to the application services deployed by end users; everything is managed throughout its lifecycle with Operators.

Trusted Enterprise Kubernetes

Delivering a trusted enterprise Kubernetes solution means delivering trusted container content, a trusted container platform and trusted Linux host infrastructure to run it on.

OpenShift 4, addresses the challenges with installing the platform consistently and keeping it updated with the latest security patches and rapidly moving Kubernetes releases. It also makes it easier to deploy complex applications on the platform and manage those applications across the lifecycle. This is done by unifying and consistently managing all aspects of the platform, both day 1 and day 2.

Delivering Full Stack Automation

OpenShift 4 unifies operations across the layers of the platform, to provide full stack automation from the underlying infrastructure, to the RHEL OS, to the OpenShift Kubernetes platform and its integrated services. OpenShift 4 uses Kubernetes itself to provision and scale your Kubernetes clusters, leveraging the new OpenShift installer. The new installer first asks you what infrastructure you want to deploy OpenShift on and to provide credentials to access that infrastructure. Based on your choice, it then configures that infrastructure on your behalf and starting from a single Kubernetes node, bootstraps a complete, highly available Kubernetes cluster in minutes.

This installation process includes provisioning the Linux host operating system OpenShift runs on, leveraging Red Hat Enterprise Linux CoreOS. RHEL CoreOS provides a fully immutable, container optimized, Linux OS host that is delivered and installed as a component of OpenShift. RHEL CoreOS is RHEL, leveraging the latest RHEL 8 kernel and core libraries, but delivered as an immutable host image. Thus it benefits from the compatibility, reliability and innovation delivered by the RHEL.

To drive the installation, the OpenShift installer leverages provider specific machine controllers that automate the provisioning of Kubernetes supportable hosts. These controllers not only support the initial installation of the Kubernetes cluster, but they give you the ability to add and remove worker nodes, to scale the capacity of the cluster over time to meet user demand. This ability to automatically scale cluster resources, means customers can optimize infrastructure utilization to match demand and better control costs.

In addition to the fully “installer provisioned infrastructure” (IPI) approach OpenShift 4 delivers, the installer also enables a “user provisioned infrastructure” (UPI) mode for users who want to configure their own cloud or data center infrastructure or manage their Linux OS separately using their existing traditional RHEL distribution. This gives administrators more flexibility in locked down environments where it may be needed.

Extending Automation From Install to Upgrades

OpenShift 4 clusters are deployed with telemetry to report on the state of the cluster over time. If those clusters are connected to Red Hat, users can be notified when critical updates or new releases are available and immediately get those updates. Since operators are backing the components of the OpenShift platform, they will then drive upgrades of any components requiring updates, including Kubernetes and the RHEL CoreOS host.  Disconnected clusters running in air-gapped environments will pull those updates from a local content registry, which will leverage the same operator-driven automation to deploy them.

A cloud-like experience, everywhere

OpenShift 4 will be deployable on all the major public and private cloud platforms with a few clicks, so users can be up and running quickly. Heterogeneous support is anticipated in coming months across major public cloud vendors including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, private cloud platforms powered by Red Hat OpenStack, virtualization platforms like VMWare and Red Hat Virtualization and even on bare-metal infrastructure.

Managing Multiple Clusters Across Multiple Clouds

Nowadays most OpenShift customers have multiple clusters and in many cases those clusters are deployed across multiple cloud or on-premise infrastructure footprints. To help make this easier to manage, OpenShift 4 introduces a new unified hybrid cloud console at cloud.redhat.com.  This console allows customers to view and manage multiple OpenShift clusters.

Users will be able to register existing OpenShift clusters as well as provision new OpenShift clusters across multiple clouds and on-premise infrastructure footprints. They can see what version their clusters are running and manage upgrades and in the future get access to cross-cluster metrics, dashboards and more.

Enabling Hybrid Cloud Services with Operators & OperatorHub

OpenShift 4 enables cloud-like experience everywhere. This is not just for OpenShift clusters, but also extends to the services that run on those clusters. Developers and end users can consume those services everywhere, with same cloud experience. In order to simplify the process of managing these distributed services, Openshift introduced Operators.

OperatorHub.io is community registry where users can find curated Operators. You can also access Operator Hub content through the OpenShift 4 Console. OpenShift 4 will also include certified Operators through Red Hat OpenShift Operator Certification. This program enables ISV partners to jointly build and certify their Operators with Red Hat and unifies support for Operators on OpenShift.

With the Operator Lifecycle Manager (OLM) in OpenShift 4, Operators help to provide the manageability, traceability and accountability developers have become used to in the public cloud, all while unifying said services offerings in both public and private clouds. IT teams can set policies using Operators that help provide governance and oversight for resources that are often required in regulated industries, without having to provision these resources manually for developer teams.

Empowering Developers to Innovate

OpenShift goal is to help developers to innovate more rapidly, to address the needs of the business. Cloud native application development brings new challenges. As developers adopt microservices architectures, managing the communication between each service, securing those services and getting better service to service traceability to debug issues is an absolute necessity. These are the challenges that the Istio open source project seeks to address.

The OpenShift 4 Service Mesh takes Istio and combines it with other key projects, like Jaeger for tracing and Kiali for visualization, to provide better manageability and traceability to microservices deployments. Developers can focus on building the business logic, letting the service mesh manage how each microservice communicates based on policies they define. They can also leverage the tracing and visualization capabilities to debug issues when they occur.

Development approaches haven’t stopped evolving, and Serverless is yet another way developers are looking to build event driven applications, by leveraging function as a service based offerings. Building functions leveraging a serverless model enables the ability to scale to zero, and only consume compute resources when functions execute, which can be an effective way to control operational costs, particularly in the public cloud. FaaS offerings were first pioneered by public cloud providers like AWS, but have the potential to lock your applications into a single cloud environment. This is why Red Hat is working to bring these capabilities to a hybrid cloud environment via Knative.

Knative is an open source project that Red Hat is collaborating on with the Kubernetes community to drive upstream development that enables hybrid serverless capabilities. Using the Knative framework enabled in OpenShift, users can extend Kubernetes to build, deploy and manage serverless applications, supporting containerized and serverless deployments from a single Kubernetes control plane.

To meet developers where they live, developers can code and interact with OpenShift from within their favorite integrated developer environments (IDEs) using plugins for environments such as VSCode, IntelliJ and Eclipse. Through Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces, developers can leverage a fully integrated Web browser-based IDE that enables developers to easily collaborate on code. CodeReady Workspaces is based on the Eclipse Che project and is fully supported by Red Hat for OpenShift development.

For those developers that simply live at the command line, Red Hat has also created a command line interface (CLI), called odo, designed to improve how code gets containerized and deployed on OpenShift. Developers can use odo to construct applications and quickly iterate on code.

Platforms are nothing without the content they provide to build applications. OpenShift 4 delivers a wealth of certified middleware, database, storage and other runtimes from Red Hat and our ISV partners. All of this content is container ready and will be backed by Operators to drive better management and automation. This includes solutions for application integration, messaging and automation from the Red Hat Middleware portfolio. It will also include OpenShift Container Storage, which will be completely operator-driven leveraging Ceph and the Rook project in OpenShift 4. Developers will be able to access all of this content via OperatorHub.io or embedded OperatorHub in their OpenShift Console.

In order to streamline building and running container images in any OCI compliant container environment Red Hat has introduced Red Hat Universal Base Image which is RHEL based base image allow you to build, share and collaborate on your containerized application wherever you want.

OpenShift 4: Enterprise Kubernetes for Big Ideas

OpenShift 4 is designed to deliver a unified experience across hybrid cloud by driving automated installation and updates across Kubernetes deployments everywhere, powered by Operators. OpenShift 4 is still built on a core of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and delivered in a new immutable form as Red Hat Enterprise Linux CoreOS and fully integrated and managed as a component of the OpenShift platform.

Operators extend this automation to any service that runs on the platform, including certified Operators from Red Hat and ISV Partner ecosystem. OpenShift 4 also brings a number of new developer services and capabilities needed to build cloud-native applications and deploy them consistently across any supported on-premises, private, or public cloud infrastructure. Red Hat OpenShift 4 is Kubernetes for the Enterprise, designed to power business transformation and unite your development teams on a single platform.

If you are interested in running Red Hat OpenShift 4 in your data center or in public cloud you can try it out.


Principal Solutions Architect

Jarosław Stakun

Jaroslaw works as an Principal Solutions Architect at Red Hat and is responsible for delivery and solution selling based on Red Hat Openshift Container Platform and Red Hat Application Services in the region of Central and Eastern Europe.