Red Hat Extends Reach of ‘Lightweight’ Integration; Unifies Middleware, Streaming, IPaaS, and Cloud-Native Capabilities

Red Hat continues to extend the lightweight integration envelope. Red Hat Integration marries traditional service bus, messaging and APIs with new options for streams, hybrid cloud and new ways to help app developers design, build and orchestrate microservices and containers.  IDN speaks with Red Hat’s Mike Piech.

Tags: AMQ, cloud, Fuse hybrid, integration, Kubernetes, microservices, middleware, Red Hat, streaming,

Mike Piech, Red Hat
Mike Piech
vice president &
general manager - middleware
Red Hat

"One of our core competencies for years has been ‘lightweight-ness.’ That focus on delivering integration in a much smaller size has pre-disposed us to be ready for containers."

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Red Hat continues to push the lightweight integration envelope on two fronts.


The company is modernizing traditional on-prem middleware with streaming and richer API support, while also rolling out new types of integrations to help developers build new-gen hybrid and cloud-native apps that use microservices and containers. 


“We're modernizing integrations, and also bringing together a couple of key Red Hat strengths around Kubernetes and our cloud platform to make cloud-native more of an accessible and viable reality for enterprise IT shops,” Mike Piech, Red Hat’s vice president and general manager for middleware.


Piech described the two levels of Red Hat’s latest offerings – which span higher-level hybrid integrations, as well as more granular integration for new-gen apps that rely on microservices and containers.
First, the company’s Red Hat Integration ‘unified’ platform continues to build out the company’s existing lightweight integration portfolio for ESB, messaging and brokers. It adds Red Hat AMQ Online, Red Hat AMQ Streams, new connectors for Red Hat Fuse Online integration platform as a service (iPaaS), and end-to-end API (application programming interface) lifecycle support. 


Altogether, Red Hat Integration unifies API connectivity, data transformation, service composition and orchestration, real-time messaging, cross-datacenter message streaming, and API management to connect apps across hybrid cloud architectures and enable API-centric business services. It supports a wide range of on-prem, hybrid and cloud user cases, including Cloud-to-ground, Cloud-to-cloud, ESBs, Messaging and API management.


Second, Red Hat is expanding its lightweight integration via cloud platform technologies (including its OpenShift Container Platform) to provide developers less complex and more efficient ways to work with microservices and containers for new-gen apps. 


Specifically, Red Hat is bringing lightweight integration capabilities of Fuse Online and 3scale API Management to Kubernetes-native platforms. This allows Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform to better manage, share and scale integrations and APIs for apps using containers and microservices in hybrid and cloud-native environments. 
“With these releases, Red Hat is bringing to bear our two areas of lightweight expertise for platform-level infrastructure and for application development middleware -- such as tooling, libraries, services and all of those things,” Piech told IDN. 


“Hybrid integration can be a complex and challenging endeavor and can require organizations to build and scale integration services for numerous internal and external data sources,” Piech said.  Red Hat Fuse and Red Hat 3scale API Management are now Kubernetes-native platforms that are designed to work with Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform.  


Marrying these technologies, “weaves together critical integration and messaging capabilities, alongside a cloud-native toolchain,” Piech told IDN. The result is, “a unified end-to-end experience,” that spans from design, development, deployment and management, he explained.


At least one analyst sees strong merit in Red Hat’s multi-purpose vision for integration. Carl Lehmann, principal analyst at 451 Research, said in a statement that Red Hat’s latest releases exhibit technologies that will become, “the foundation of next-generation multipurpose hybrid integration platforms.”


Red Hat’s Thinking On 2-Tier Integration - ‘Inter-App’ and Inner-App  

Red Hat’s use of two-tier integration to support modern apps and traditional integration are grounded in Red Hat’s long-time focus on lightweight integration.

“One of our core competencies for years has been our ‘light-weightness,’ particularly for middleware,” Piech said, noting its long-time JBoss Enterprise Application Platform. “That focus on delivering integration in a much smaller size has pre-disposed us to be ready for containers.” 


The result: a unified platform that can seamlessly work with both legacy on-prem integration with the needs for new-gen hybrid and cloud-native apps – all without limiting innovation or breaking crucial integrations. 


Red Hat’s latest offerings “bring to the surface some of the significant issues in this transition we’re in from pre-cloud to cloud,” Piech told IDN.  He described it this way:

There is essentially a hierarchy of integrations at this point, with many different levels of integration happening end-to-end. 

There is old-style integration let’s call it, such as ESBs, messaging and so on.  There are also integrations for an application, because today those apps can be composed of macroservices, individual microservices, and other integrations with on-premise, cloud or even external third-party services.

The thinking behind these two levels of integration can sound all well and good in theory, but in practice, it can be hard to deliver them in a way that developers can easily use them (without too much complication) and reliably (where they won’t break in operations).

Red Hat’s ‘recipe’ for delivering this dual-purpose formula for legacy and cloud is based on bringing together two ingredients – containers + lightweight integration.


“Today, every bit of Red Hat middleware is available in a containerized format that's optimized for Kubernetes, container orchestration, CI/CD and lifecycle management,” Piech said. “This really lets Red Hat provide a powerful iterative rapid application development.”  


“This focus on lightweight-ness has driven a lot of our software over many years, and that much smaller size pre-disposed much of Red Hat software to be ready to be put into containers,” he added, “Every bit of Red Hat middleware now is available in containerized format in a way that's truly optimized for and taking advantage of Kubernetes, container orchestration, CI/CD and lifecycle management.”


The result: “We’ve made the individual chunks of code that constitute integration small enough and light enough to stand inside of a small workload with a minimize runtime or minimum amounts of tailored code,” Piech said. “This enables powerful iterative rapid application development.”


The Power of Containers + Lightweight Integration (Container-Ready)

Red Hat’s 2-ingredient recipe also ‘bridges’ the world’s pre-cloud, hybrid and cloud-native, Piech advised. 


Combining containers + lightweight integrations (which are already container-ready) breaks open a world of new possibilities for app integration and app developers, he added.  


“Five years ago, integrating workloads needed a lot of extra baggage. But, by getting integration to work optimally with containers, we’ve eliminated a lot of overhead and complexity,” he said.   So, beyond the ability to abstract a lot of complexity, Red Hat has also been able to add in extra critical support for hybrid and cloud-native apps with Apache Kafka streaming, event-driven flows and even integrations with rules engines and BPM (business process management).


Another important element is that integration is driving a rich spectrum of new tasks faced by today’s developers and IT ops professionals.  Piech defined the process as follows:

So look at today’s software. Instead of a small number of big things you need to connect, such as application silos, you've got a large number of smaller things.

One implication of all that is once you've decomposed functionality into this larger number of smaller things, you got a lot more things talking to each other.  You’ve got a  lot more things that need to communicate with each other. So. In a way, an implication of that is that there's a lot more integration that happens at different levels.

You still have your macro app-to-app integrations, such as back and forth with Salesforce or other SaaS apps. But, within the application itself, you've now got lots of API calls, lots of messaging, and probably lots of events that can trigger other things to happen.

Looking at it this way, this new world of cloud-native containerized microservices is driving an explosive increase in the need for integration – calls to an operating system process, workloads and all sorts of services talking to each other under the covers. That's what super exciting about today’s types of integrations. 

So, now we need the architectural enablement to let lots of these small pieces talk to each other – and also manage it all at scale -- with reliability, performance and security so we can manage all of the interactions between all of these pieces at runtime.

Lightweight integration can be used to make slight changes, without bringing down an entire work product, so you can make rapid trial-and-error types of new micro-scale innovations – and with less risky and disruption.

But, to succeed in this, you also need to be consistent and disciplined about how you do all that.  That’s why, in our view, you want standardized patterns of use, battle-tested integration capabilities, and discipline around how you lifecycle your APIs and proven API management.  You also want scalability and manageability needed to make managing this large number of small things viable.

Red Hat’s Continued Focus on APIs and API Management

Indeed, API and API Management continues to be a Red Hat focus. Piech says the API-centric technologies will continue to be valuable to companies as they migrate from on-prem architectures to hybrid and cloud-native approaches. 


“No question that ‘end-to-end’ API lifecycle support will become more and more important,” Piech said, especially as integrations become more pervasive in connecting app-to-app, as well as how apps work with internal components and external services. 


To that point, Red Hat adds support for various phases of the API lifecycle, including:

  • Design using a web-based API designer that implements the OpenAPI 2.0 specification;
  • Development augmented by the ability for users to kickstart their API development by generating an implementation from either new or preexisting API definitions;
  • Deployment as cloud-native services within OpenShift Container Platform, extending connectivity across hybrid and multi-cloud environments;
  • Management as seen in APIs deployed in OpenShift Container Platform can be discovered and managed.

Beyond APIs, Red Hat Integration also revs other integration support for easier use and richer experiences. Among the improvements are:


Self-service messaging on a cloud platform - Messaging enables apps to exchange data with each other while insulating the system from potential service interruptions or implementation changes. AMQ Online will deliver the connectivity capabilities of Red Hat AMQ via a cloud-based service through a browser. The result is that users will be able to provision and scale application messaging when and where they need it.


Event streaming for cloud-native applications - AMQ Streams provides the high-performance data streaming capability of Red Hat AMQ (based on Apache Kafka)  to bring speed and scale to event-driven microservices environments. AMQ Streams is optimized for OpenShift Container Platform, so it can take advantage of OpenShift Operators to automate the deployment, management, upgrades and configuration of Kafka.


Low-code / No-code integration - Fuse Online iPaaS (integration Platform-as-a-Service) adds several new capabilities including Apache Kafka to help connect to data streams and adds to its existing 200 predefined connectors with support for Google Calendar and Slack.


CLI for Customization and Control - Red Hat Integration now includes a command line interface that enables customers to use orchestration/provisioning tools like Red Hat Ansible Automation to configure their Red Hat 3scale API Management implementations.


The latest Red Hat integration offerings are shipping now.