With the move IBM has made to base the new Maximo Application Suite (MAS) on the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform (RHOS or OCP), it is important that we gain a better understanding of this technology and the benefits it may have.
To begin with, OpenShift is an enterprise level Linux operating system. It provides a common abstraction layer for the packaging, deployment, and management of application sets for both developers and operations staff. This approach makes the physical infrastructure serving the applications to be somewhat irrelevant. An organization can have a mixture of multiple cloud, on-prem, or other virtual machines or bare-metal servers, providing application and functions to user communities… known as “hybrid-cloud.”
Graphic courtesy of Red Hat.
The major cloud providers such as IBM, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon all have managed services available for Red Hat OpenShift environments. Of course, you can deploy an OpenShift environment on your own servers, on-prem or in the cloud.
There are sizing calculators available to help determine the environment needed to suit your operations now and with future usage requirements in mind. These calculators consider quite a few more parameters than in the past, so a good understanding of them is in order.
RHOS offers completely isolated networks in which to run the applications. Communication is via forced secure sockets and is encrypted. Containerized application images are immutable so any deviations in containers are temporary. This makes them less likely to be corrupted and corruptions are far less impactful due to the short lifespan of deviations.
Orchestrated containerization affords automatic scalability as load on the servers changes during normal daily activities. OpenShift also provides structure for both traditional and native-cloud applications. Current applications are readily ported into the containerized environment. Beyond just supporting IBM MAS, this new environment can serve other applications sets, moving them away from their traditional hosting situations.
When a workload is built in OpenShift, it is portable to multiple and/or hybrid cloud environments. This gives you many options where the application is run from with no changes needed to the actual application set.
High Availability and Redundancy
Orchestrated containerization with automatic health checks, ensures that your containers are healthy and running smoothly. When they are not, new containers are automatically deployed from the immutable images to ensure up time. Cluster operations are a built-in function of RHOS, removing the need for third-party network and server management tools.
Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CD/CI)
For system administrators the focus would be the CI functionality. Deploying updates/patches to OpenShift-built applications is much simpler. The build and deployment of Maximo (now Manage) Enterprise Archive (EAR) files and Application Server configurations are all automated and further managed by even more automation. To update to the latest patch or version it is often as simple as a couple of clicks, or a simple YAML (Yet Another Markup Language) modification. RHOS utilizes the Ansible Automation Platform to automate the life-cycle management of applications running in the environment. The expected result of all this automation is reduced time and money spent on IT operations.
Other things to consider
Having all that automation requires a lot of extra compute power to be constantly running and monitoring your system. Back to the sizing calculators, it is even more important to understand what they are telling you before committing to short and long-term server configurations.
Having so much automation and redundancy requires a lot of separate parts. Understanding these parts and how to troubleshoot them/maintain them can lead to slower issue resolution and delays with administrator turnover or onboarding.
Critical components are locked down and cannot be corrupted by Administrator mistakes. But this also means it can be much more difficult, and time consuming, for admins to make advanced changes just to get the system running in the way it needs to for their context.
While RHOS is now owned by IBM, it remains Open Source and has many, many tools available to enhance the management and development of applications.
Yes, the move to Red Hat OpenShift as the foundation for MAS does present challenges to existing IT operations. This is especially true if you wish to continue hosting your “Maximo,” on-premises. Your teams will need to get up to speed with this new approach. Given that this technology is not new in the marketplace, there are vast educational and experiential resources available to get your team up to speed quickly. If your operation has an application development function, or contracts out such activities, you will quickly see the benefits of having containerized applications running and managed via RHOS.
Article by John Q. Todd, Sr. Business Consultant at TRM. Reach out to us at AskTRM@trmnet.com if you have any questions or would like to discuss deploying MAS 8 or Maximo AAM for condition based maintenance / monitoring.