Tigera Open Sources Calico for Windows to Advance Kubernetes Networking

Tigera today announced it is making available Calico for Windows available as an open source software as part of an effort to advance networking across Kubernetes clusters in Windows environments.

Company CEO Ratan Tipirneni says now that Microsoft has put in place all the complementary tools and platforms IT organizations that have standardized on Windows Server need to adopt Kubernetes clusters, use has accelerated over the last few months.

As the number of Kubernetes clusters increases IT organizations will also need to establish network connections between Kubernetes clusters and legacy application environments. Calico provides IT teams with an open source virtual networking overlay that spans containers platforms, virtual machines and cloud platforms.

Tipirneni says Calico is gaining traction because it provides a network overlay that can be employed in both Windows and Linux environments. By making Calico for Windows available as open source code, IT organizations can also be assured the project is not solely tied to Tigera, he says.

Calico is already employed across more than 200,000 known clusters spanning millions of nodes deployed around the world, according to Tigera. Those clusters will substantially increase as enterprise IT organizations running Windows begin to deploy Kubernetes more widely. Tigera provides commercial support for Calico as well as tools for managing and securing microservices that span Calico networks.

Tigera also provides a modular data plane through which networking engines can be upgraded over time. Many organizations running Linux, for example, are expected to migrate toward Extended BPF (eBPF), a kernel technology that provides a more efficient way to process network packets. The Calico architecture essentially future-proofs the virtual network as those advances continue to evolve, says Tipirneni.

Most enterprise networking teams are just coming to terms with Kubernetes clusters. Large enterprise IT organizations have embraced Kubernetes clusters but are just now starting to network together fleets of Kubernetes clusters. While Calico has gained a lot of traction in the cloud, most enterprise IT organizations currently rely on commercial networking platforms from VMware and Cisco. However, Tigera, via an alliance with Microsoft, is betting more organizations will be employing Calico to provide networking services across hybrid cloud computing environments, especially if Calico for Windows is available free of charge for both Windows and Linux platforms. Microsoft has long supported the adoption of containers and Kubernetes, but the rate at which it has been able to embed support for these cloud-native technologies has proven to be extended.

Longer-term, it’s not clear to what degree network operations will eventually become an extension of DevOps processes. Today it takes a significant amount of time and effort to provision network services in the enterprise. Virtual overlays present the opportunity to programmatically provision network services alongside the rest of the infrastructure a DevOps team manages.

Naturally, it will be a while before the cultural divide between network operations and DevOps teams is bridged. As open source software is discovered by developers, however, history has already shown it tends to proliferate across the enterprise. As such, enterprise IT teams running Kubernetes in both Windows and Linux environments may soon find themselves at the forefront of a major networking transition.

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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