Cisco Unveils Container Platform Based on Kubernetes

Cisco Systems today announced it will make available an instance of Kubernetes that is optimized for Cisco compute and networking environments.

Announced at a Cisco Live! event, the Cisco Container Platform announcement comes three months after the company signed a strategic alliance under which it will work with Google to create hybrid cloud computing offerings based on Kubernetes.

The first instance of Kubernetes provided by Cisco will be available for deployment on top of Cisco HyperFlex, an instance of a hyperconvergence environment that can be layered on top of either VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines starting in April.

Following that offering, Cisco will then be making available an instance of Kubernetes curated by Cisco for generic virtual machines, bare-metal servers or a public or private cloud this summer, says Dave Cope, senior director for the Cisco Cloud Platform and Solutions Group at Cisco.

Cisco has already committed to delivering a hybrid cloud capability based on Kubernetes that will span on-premises systems and the Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) service later this year.

Pricing has not been specifically determined for any of these offerings yet. But Cisco has committed to a subscription model that will be based on the number of nodes the software it provides is deployed on. Volume discounts will also be applicable.

The Cisco Container Platform also comes with built-in support for Contiv container networking, which unifies networking of containers across both virtual machines, bare-metal machines and external cloud services. Contiv has been designed from the ground up to also integrate with Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), a software-defined network built into Cisco routers and switches.

Cope says Cisco doesn’t expect IT organizations to deploy its instance of Kubernetes unless there is a need to integrate Kubernetes with its compute and storage offerings. Cisco will continue to support any instance of Kubernetes deployed on its platforms, he says.

Kope notes the rise of microservices-based on containers is creating major challenges for IT operations teams. Integration of the Kubernetes platform with existing IT management and networking frameworks has become a major priority because most enterprise IT organizations don’t want to deploy separate management frameworks that are specific to Kubernetes. They would much rather extend investments they have already made, says Cope.

Integration with ACI via Condiv eliminates the need to deploy separate tools to manage a network overlay for containers as well, adds Cope. In addition, all the security capabilities that Cisco has baked into Cisco ACI also get extended to Cisco Container Platform.

At this point, every major IT vendor is racing to integrate Kubernetes into their existing platforms. While that smooths the path to deploying Kubernetes in existing production environments, it’s still not clear to what degree Kubernetes will drive a massive consolidation of IT infrastructure. Naturally, virtual machines are not going away anytime soon. But it may turn out that many containerized applications will be deployed on bare-metal servers. Regardless of what path enterprise IT organizations choose going forward, Cisco is making it clear it plans to remain highly relevant.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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