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Containers are a modern and efficient way to run applications, but it takes time for organizations with a large investment in Virtual Machines (VMs) to fully transition over to containerized workloads. It is therefore very common to have a mix of containers and VMs running in any given production environment. As more and more applications are migrated to containers on OpenShift, you will face a decision point: where to run your remaining VM-based applications. To optimize your cost, complexity and performance, you need to consider your options carefully.

Initially, some customers will run containerized applications on VMs, as it is a familiar platform where OpenShift can be quickly deployed. However, OpenShift also provides a production-ready virtualization alternative that can run both containers and VMs on the same platform.

Running OpenShift on top of a VM-based platform introduces extra overhead, such as two control planes, more complexity, higher costs and sub-optimal performance. Running VM applications on OpenShift eliminates these issues and simplifies your infrastructure.

Some applications are not well suited to being containerized, so many customers will need to continue to support VMs alongside containers. One benefit of IBM Fusion with OpenShift is the ability to run containerized applications and VMs on the same platform. This can help to eliminate costly virtual machine licensing costs and consolidate management efforts.

OpenShift and IBM Fusion incorporate virtualization as part of their infrastructure and are able to take advantage of the same system resources and capabilities as containers. They are managed by the same platform engineering teams, using the same tools and processes. Red Hat also offers modularization and containerization features that enable horizontal scalability of applications and databases across public, private or hybrid deployments. IBM Fusion HCI is a turnkey OpenShift hyper-converged appliance that can be deployed on-premises as a tightly integrated stack with advanced data services for quick production readiness.

Kubevirt is a project that started within Red Hat in 2016. It is now a production-ready solution for deploying and managing VMs on Kubernetes. The Kubevirt project has the support of 198 companies, including industry leaders like Apple, AMD, Amazon, ARM, Google, IBM, Intel, NVIDIA and SUSE. Within OpenShift, Kubevirt makes deploying and managing VMs surprisingly straightforward. While it lacks many of the enterprise-class management capabilities of VMware, it is proving to be a viable alternative for VMs as companies continue to migrate critical applications to containers.

To adopt a modernized approach for virtualization and containers, you need to consider the modern infrastructure requirements. IBM Fusion is a hybrid cloud infrastructure solution that helps customers deploy OpenShift applications quickly in the cloud, on-premises or both. IBM also offers Fusion as a hyper-converged appliance that enables customers to achieve production readiness quickly with a cloud-like operating model on-premises. This provides fast time to production, a complete HW/SW stack solution, a single point of contact for support and an engineering team that handles the ongoing lifecycle management.

Data Protection Considerations

As OpenShift with containers and virtual machines moves into the enterprise space, it is important to consider how to protect the environment. OCP has somewhat limited integrated tools for backing up virtual machines, relying heavily on archive to S3-connected storage or cloud targets. IBM Fusion expands the options for the backup and restore of VMs, from simple snapshots to full application-consistent orchestrated backups with automated policy management. 

For business continuity, IBM Fusion also offers both synchronous and asynchronous data replication to another Openshift cluster with tunable RPO and RTO, based on customer requirements. As of the latest release, Fusion now offers customers the choice between Ceph (Fusion Data Foundation) and Scale (Fusion Global Data Platform) which each have unique performance and feature capabilities.

IBM has recently started offering scripted backup workflows, or "recipes", to facilitate and orchestrate the backup and recovery of popular applications such as MySQL, Cassandra, IBM Db2, PostgreSQL, Postgres EnterpriseDB, MongoDB, Redis, and others.

Learn more

The IBM Fusion HCI system in our Advanced Technology Center (ATC) is available to assist customers interested in an enterprise-class container platform with testing and POCs. Many customers face the challenge of doing more with less and lack the resources or skill sets to adopt new technology as fast as they need to. WWT is here to help customers on this journey of continuous improvement with technology and using it to achieve better results.

How much can you improve your ROI and lower your TCO with Red Hat Virtualization? We are ready and capable of helping you identify the right areas, prioritize them, and start the journey.