Microsoft and Red Hat Enhance Azure Arc and OpenShift Support

Microsoft and Red Hat this week announced an expansion of their integration work as part of this week's Red Hat Summit 2020 event, which went virtual.

The two companies are making it easier to manage open source Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)-based applications using tools such as Microsoft's Azure Arc. In addition, enhancements when using the Azure Red Hat OpenShift Kubernetes application platform were announced.

Azure Arc and Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Azure Arc has been described by Microsoft as an extension of the Azure Resource Manager service. It enables the management of Windows and Linux servers, plus Azure services, at scale across any environment (multicloud, edge and on-premises). Azure Arc is still at the preview stage after first being introduced at the Microsoft Ignite conference back in November.

New capabilities for managing RHEL workloads, which were characterized in the announcement as Azure Arc improvements, included:

  • Use of the Azure Portal to view an inventory and conduct a search
  • Use of the Azure Policy service to apply policies and manage compliance for servers and clusters
  • Use of Azure security policies and role-based access control

The announcement also noted that a prebuilt image of SQL Server 2019 for RHEL 8 is currently downloadable from the Azure Marketplace.

Other Azure Arc capabilities to come, which are expected to arrive when Azure Arc reaches the "general availability" product-release stage, include "reporting on expiring certificates, password complexity, managing SSH keys, and enforcing disk encryption," according to the announcement.

Azure Arc and Azure Red Hat OpenShift
The Azure Red Hat OpenShift service for containerized applications went live almost a year ago. It combines Red Hat's Kubernetes container orchestration service with Azure services support.

Azure Red Hat Open Shift now has support for OpenShift 4. It adds support for "hybrid and enterprise customer scenarios," according to the announcement.

One of those OpenShift 4 additions is the use of "private hybrid clusters" using new "private API and ingress endpoints."

"With private endpoints and Azure Express Route support we're enabling private hybrid clusters, allowing our mutual customers to extend their on-premises solutions to Azure," the announcement explained.

A second OpenShift 4 addition is the ability to tap three Azure Availability Zones "in supported Azure regions" for high availability, in keeping with Azure Red Hat OpenShift's 99.9 percent service-level agreement.

A third OpenShift 4 addition is the addition of a "cluster-admin" role on Azure Red Hat OpenShift clusters. It enables "full cluster customization capabilities."

Another OpenShift 4 addition is a bolstering of compliance certifications. Azure Red Hat OpenShift is "now PCI DSS, HITRUST, and FedRAMP certified."

In addition, there were some GitHub improvements. Azure Arc or the Azure Policy service can now be used to apply policies to "applications defined in GitHub repositories," which can be automatically deployed to "any repo-linked OpenShift cluster," keeping policies up to date, the announcement indicated.

In addition, GitHub pull requests can now be used to globally distribute new application versions when using Azure Arc to manage OpenShift clusters.

Other Azure Arc and OpenShift enhancements included:

  • Use of Azure SQL Managed Instance on OpenShift
  • Use of Microsoft SQL Big Data Cluster on OpenShift

SQL Server 2019 Support on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8
Microsoft also this week announced that SQL Server 2019 will run well on RHEL 8. In addition, it's possible to use it as a service via a preconfigured SQL Server 2019 on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Azure Virtual Machine image, which is available from the Azure Marketplace. 

The announcement included a note that support for the Big Data Clusters feature of SQL Server 2019 will get added to Red Hat OpenShift when SQL Server 2019 gets a future cumulative update, although the timing wasn't described.

Here's that note:

SQL Server 2019 became generally available on Nov 1, 2019. Among the capabilities introduced with this release is Big Data Clusters, a new deployment pattern for SQL Server that adds Apache HDFS and Spark for big data storage and analytics, which will be supported on Red Hat OpenShift in an upcoming cumulative update release of SQL Server 2019. This deployment pattern runs entirely as Linux container images on Kubernetes enabling customers to run their analytical workloads at any scale, on an integrated platform designed to derive new intelligent insights out of data.

Microsoft added that it is currently working with its customers to enhance the deployment model for using the Big Data Clusters feature with Red Hat OpenShift in such a way that "privileged containers are not required."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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