Cisco Systems and IBM announced this week they have extended their alliance to include support for IBM Cloud Private, which is built on top of Kubernetes, on Cisco HyperFlex and HyperFlex Edge hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platforms.
Kaustubh Das, vice president of product management for Cisco, says Cisco has already committed to making other instances of Kubernetes available on its platforms. However, its work with IBM will create an opportunity to address emerging applications that are being deployed for the first time, as well as legacy applications that ran on IBM WebSphere application servers but are shifting to a modern HCI platform by being embedded in containers that will enable them to be run without having to be refactored.
As part of the alliance, Cisco also will support IBM Cloud Pak for Applications, a set of tools IBM makes available to automate the packaging and deployment of containerized applications, on its HCI platform.
In addition, Cisco is offering Cisco Intersight, a set of software-as-a-service (SaaS) management applications that IT organizations can use to manage those platforms remotely. Cisco also has a set of managed services that keeps the underlying IT infrastructure up to date.
IBM and Cisco also are moving to make available Cisco’s Virtual Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) software for networking VMware virtual machines on the IBM Cloud. That capability will make it easier for IT organizations to build hybrid cloud computing environments spanning instances of Cisco HCI platforms running on-premises and IBM Cloud services, notes Das.
Cisco has a similar alliance in place with Google under which organizations can deploy an instance of Kubernetes curated by Google on a Cisco platform and take advantage of a managed Google Anthos service to manage those instances on their behalf. Das says IT organizations over time should expect to see Cisco supporting multiple Kubernetes distributions. It also worth noting IBM’s pending acquisition of Red Hat, a leading provider of a curated instance of Kubernetes. In fact, it might not be that uncommon for IT organizations to deploy different curated instances of Kubernetes distributions, as well as supporting Kubernetes clusters based on different releases. That level of complexity is likely to push organizations that already have limited Kubernetes expertise toward relying on a managed services approach, says Das.
It’s not clear where most Kubernetes clusters will wind up running. Multiple surveys in recent months suggest there are as many instances of Kubernetes running in on-premises IT environments as there are in public clouds. Even less clear is the degree to which Kubernetes will be deployed on bare-metal servers versus virtual machines. But the inherently converged nature of Kubernetes clusters often requires organizations acquire new infrastructure to run it. Cisco—and its archrivals such as Dell Technologies and Lenovo—clearly are anxious to seize that opportunity.