Cisco Extends Kubernetes’ Reach

Cisco Systems today extended its support for Kubernetes by adding support for the container orchestration platform to both the Cisco CloudCenter management platform and the AppDynamics application performance management cloud service.

In addition, Cisco announced that Cisco CloudCenter has been integrated with instances of Kubernetes running on the Microsoft Azure cloud.

Fabio Gori, senior director for cloud solutions marketing for Cisco, says it’s clear that Kubernetes is starting to emerge as a de facto standard for managing containers. At the same time, it is also capable of accelerating a transition to hybrid cloud computing because container applications running on Kubernetes can be deployed anywhere. Cisco CloudCenter provides a common management plane across both public clouds and on-premises IT environments, he says.

Most Kubernetes use today is still confined to application development and testing. But Matt Chotin, senior director for technical evangelism at the AppDynamics unit of Cisco, says it’s a matter of time before large numbers of greenfield applications start to move into production environments. Those applications will be widely distributed across public clouds and virtual and physical servers, he says.

Rather than cobbling together a series of open source technologies to monitor Kubernetes, Chotin says most enterprise IT organizations will rely on a turnkey service that also can be applied across multiple types of applications.

Cisco is betting that the rise of Kubernetes on multiple platforms will also serve to generate demand for Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), the software-defined network (SDN) that Cisco is embedding in its latest generation of switches and making available on multiple public clouds. While each instance unifies the management of compute, storage and networking, there is still a need for a network overlay to tie Kubernetes clusters to each other and to legacy applications. Cisco is not the only provider of networking services pursuing a similar strategy, but it does hold a dominant position in enterprise networking today that the company expects to be able to extend into the cloud.

Support for Kubernetes via CloudCenter and AppDynamics follows a major commitment Cisco made to Kubernetes following the signing of a broad ranging alliance with Google last year. Cisco plans to deploy it not only on Cisco converged and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), but also on standalone servers and appliances and in implementations that will run in conjunction with VMware and Microsoft Windows stacks of software. Cisco also signaled it will support Istio, a service mesh for networking containers that has been developed jointly by Google, IBM and Lyft; and Apigee, the application programming interface (API) management platform that Google acquired last year.

The level of disruption Kubernetes can potentially introduce into the enterprise is likely to be significant. Cisco clearly sees that disruption as an opportunity to further expand its reach beyond enterprise networking. As many IT organizations become more comfortable with Kubernetes, there’s no doubt many platforms investments will be re-evaluated. Competition between IT vendors trying to seize that opportunity will be nothing less than fierce.

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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