SQL Server 2019 Big Data Clusters CU5 – Why OpenShift Matters

CU5 for SQL Server 2019 Big Data Clusters ushers in support for Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, this is a big deal – but what exactly is OpenShift and more saliently; why does it matter ?.

OpenShift Container Platform
– Platform-As-A-Service

OpenShift is based on Kubernetes – a project open sourced under the auspices of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. It should therefore come as no surprise that most of the software in the wider Kubernetes ecosystem originates from the very same place:

Whilst this ecosystem is incredibly rich, it is also quite complex and at the risk of stating the obvious; it is open source . . . meaning that providing the correct notices are observed (as per the license the software open sourced under) you can use the software. Building a stable platform on Kubernetes can involve getting lots of different open source projects to work together in a cohesive manner, wouldn’t it be so much easier if this was already done this for you ?.

What Open Source Does Not Give You

I want to make one point emphatically clear – open source provides you with zero guarantees as to when bugs get fixed, if they get fixed at all – this is entirely down to the good will of the people that maintain the open source project in question.

Regulated Industries

Anyone working in banking, finance, government or the utilities sectors will know that only software which comes with a commercial support agreement can be used for production purposes.

OpenShift Is The Answer

Joining the dots, the solution to these challenges is a commercially supported platform-as-a-service product based on Kubernetes – in a nutshell this is exactly what Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform is !. But what does it give you exactly ?. Above and beyond vanilla Kubernetes, OpenShift Contain Platform furnishes:

  • Software to Image S2I – a means of compiling software to container image form,
  • A built in container image registry,
  • Fully supported software stack – from the operating system up,
  • ImageStreams – a means of managing images that are related,
  • Strict opinionated security policies.

A Kubernetes OpenShift
Side-By-Side Comparison

One thing that should become immediately apparent when installing and administering an OpenShift cluster, is that it is a lot more prescriptive and opinionated that vanilla Kubernetes. The simple reason for this is that OpenShift is intended to be deployed to environments that require enterprise grade levels of hardening and security. For example, Red Hat mandates the operating system distributions you must use, to the extent that when deploying a cluster on VMware – Red Hat’s documentation recommends the use of OVA’s, compressed files containing install-able virtual machines.

What Does This Mean For Storage ?

The topic of storage for Kubernetes in general has caused a significant amount of confusion in the Microsoft data platform community – the good news is that there are no changes here. The general advice to go with a Container Storage Interface compliant storage plugin still stands.

So What Are You Waiting For ?

SQL Server 2019 Big Data Clusters CU5 is here, if a lack of OpenShift Container Platform support has been holding your organization back from deploying this, this barrier to entry exists no more !.

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