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January 22, 2016updated 31 Aug 2016 9:44am

Red Hat & Google take containers to the cloud, as Docker targets unikernels

News: Moves to mainstream the technology to help with hybrid cloud deployments are taking shape.

By James Nunns

A busy week has been unfolding for the container community with a Docker acquisition and a partnership between Red Hat and Google.

Firstly, the Docker acquisition of Cambridge based UK start-up Unikernel that focuses on the development of unikernel’s.

Although a small team of 13, it is a team that has gained plenty of respect having been the team behind Xen Project, an open-source virtualisation platform that fuels the majority of workloads on public cloud.

Docker will integrate support for unikernels into its own tools and services; the significance of this is that the company is starting to look beyond just container technologies to help developers build more efficient microservices architectures.

Unikernels are designed to eliminate complexity and reduce footprint by compiling source code into a customer operating system that includes only the functionality required by the application logic.

In plain English, this results in a small and fast machine because a large amount of the operating system is taken out. A key benefit of this is that the machine is much less vulnerable to security issues due to the reduced attack surface.

Although unikernels have plenty of benefits there are some issues around compatibility and tooling, however, by combining the technology with Docker’s tooling capabilities this problem should be solved to some extent.

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Anil Madhavapeddy, co-founder and CTO of Unikernel Systems, said: "The integration with Docker tooling will accelerate the progress of unikernels and enable users to choose how they ‘containerize’ and manage their application – from the data center to the cloud to the Internet of Things."

The other story in the container world is the work between Red Hat and Google’s Cloud Platform that will see Red Hat integrate OpenShift Dedicated to users of GCP.

OpenShift is Red Hat’s managed container application platform and the collaboration between the two companies is designed to make it easier for customers to adopt containers.

Google, which has been labeling itself as the Open Cloud and Red Hat which has made its name in the open source arena have already been working together with Google hosting Red Hat Enterprise Linux for over a year.

This latest linkup though will see a much closer integration that should be beneficial to the two companies and to their customers.

Red Hat can obviously benefit from Google’s market reach that will be able to further spread the company’s code, while Google gains greater access to the enterprise developer market.

In terms of what it will bring to customers, the combined work between the companies will aim to deliver; improved security, dynamic scheduling, resilient access to application data regardless of container deployment locality and cross cloud portability and hybrid deployments.

As the hybrid cloud strategy grows in popularity you should expect to see containers being more widely used. Tim Yeaton, SVP Infrastructure, Red Hat, told CBR: "With more hybrid deployments you require consistency across IaaS and PaaS workloads, which is where containers come in."

Google is no stranger to the world of containers as the company is one of the pioneers of the technology, firstly with its Borg system and now with Kubernetes which will be combined to work with OpenShift.

In addition to these areas of work, Google will integrate its GCP services such as big data, analytics and storage services with OpenShift Dedicated.

The offering from Red Hat was released last month as a tool for companies to use in order to build, deploy and manage applications using OpenShift platform-as-a-service, with support for both Docker containers and Kubernetes.

Previously this technology was only deployable on AWS but now it will be available on Google, making it a big catch-up step with AWS.

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