Cisco Systems is expanding its container capabilities as part of its larger multi-cloud initiative and months-old partnership with Google around the deployment and management of hybrid clouds.
The company last week unveiled that its latest version of the software for its HyperFlex hyperconverged system will support containers, which in an increasingly cloud-centric world are becoming an alternative to virtual machines (VMs) for deploying and running applications both on-premises and in the cloud.
At the vendor’s Cisco Live show this week in Barcelona, Cisco officials unveiled the Cisco Container Platform, a software offering that is based entirely on the open-source upstream Kubernetes container orchestration platform.
The move adds to previous efforts Cisco has made regarding containers, including the partnership it announced almost a year ago with container provider Docker that enables container deployments on the networking giant’s Unified Computing System (UCS) appliances.
The Cisco Container Platform also is another step in the company’s ongoing transition to a role as a software and services vendor, focusing more on subscription sales and recurring revenue rather than simply one-time hardware sales.
“One of the things that makes this new solution so compelling is that it helps customers tap into the potential that containers offer,” Kip Compton, vice president of Cisco’s Cloud Platform and Solutions Group, wrote in a post on the company blog. “Containers start faster and use less memory than virtual machines. And they make it possible for developers to package applications so they can work in a consistent and predictable environment. Containers can run anywhere making development and deployment so much easier.”
All those attributes have fueled the quick adoption of containers by enterprises as they migrate to hybrid cloud environments—a mixture of public clouds, private clouds and on-premises data centers—for business operations.
Kubernetes grew from internal projects that Google IT administrators used to manage their in-house container environments and has since become the pre-eminent container orchestration platform in a market that includes Mesos and Docker Swarm.
According to Tuan Nguyen, technical marketing engineer for Cisco Cloud Center, that advantage can be seen in such recent moves as Kubernetes support in Apache Mesos and Docker’s integration of Kubernetes into its Enterprise Edition.
“For the past several years, Docker Swarm, Mesos and Kubernetes have engaged in the duel to bring orchestration nirvana to containerized applications,” Nguyen wrote in a post on the company blog. “While there are other participants in the fray and while Mesos has had a longer showing, Kubernetes seems to be capturing the pole position.”
Cisco officials are working to positioning the company as the enabler of the multi-cloud, the idea that enterprises not only will move much of their businesses to private and public clouds, but that it will include more than one public cloud.
The vendor is pulling together hardware and software products as well as services aimed at helping customers from the time they start planning their move to the cloud to deploying, managing and securing applications and data once the move is made. The multi-cloud strategy comes after Cisco last year ditched its Intercloud effort to be a cloud provider.
The partnership with Google, announced in October 2017, involves building a hybrid cloud offering that will protect the many millions of dollars businesses have invested in their existing data center infrastructures while carving a path to the public cloud.
At the same time, customers will be able to decide which workloads to bring to the cloud and which ones to keep behind the corporate firewall. The hybrid cloud effort includes the Google Cloud Platform and such technologies as Apigee and Istio, driven by Google, and the Google Kubernetes Engine.
“The Cisco Container Platform represents the next milestone in bringing the Cisco and Google Cloud open, hybrid cloud solution … to our customers,” Cisco’s Compton wrote in his blog post. “Cisco’s engineering teams have been working closely with the Google Cloud teams to extend and optimize the Kubernetes platform for on-premises production environments. The Cisco Container Platform is an integral part of the Cisco and Google Cloud solution.”
The Cisco Container Platform gives enterprises a route for more easily running containers in their on-premises private clouds as well as in the public cloud, according to company officials.
The platform initially will be available as software on Cisco HyperFlex 3.0 in April. In the summer it will become available on VM infrastructure, bare-metal systems and in the public cloud. The platform will offer container cluster management capabilities from setup and orchestration to authentication, monitoring, networking and load balancing.