Cisco simplifies Kubernetes container deployment with Microsoft Azure collaboration


Cisco seeks to enhance container deployment with a service to let enterprise customers run containerized applications across both Cisco-based on-premises environments and in the Microsoft Azure cloud.

Customers can now further simplify deploying and managing Kubernetes clusters on-premises and in Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) with one tool, using common identify and control policies, reducing manual tasks and ultimately time-to-market for their application environments, wrote Cisco’s Kip Compton, senior vice president of the company’s Cloud Platform and Solutions group in a blog about the work. 

Specifically, AKS has been added to Kubernetes managed services that natively integrate with the Cisco Container Platform. Cisco introduced its Kubernetes-based Container Platform in January 2018 and said it allows for self-service deployment and management of container clusters. 

Cisco has added multivendor support to the platform, including support of SAP’s Data Hub to integrate large data sets that may be in public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services, Hadoop, Microsoft or Google, and integrate them with private cloud or enterprise apps such as SAP S/4 HANA.

Kubernetes, originally designed by Google, is an open-source-based system for developing and orchestrating containerized applications. Containers can be deployed across multiple server hosts and Kubernetes orchestration lets customers build application services that span multiple containers, schedule those containers across a cluster, scale those containers and manage the container health. 

Cisco has been working to further integrate with Azure services for quite a while  now.  For example, the Cisco Integrated System for Microsoft Azure Stack lets organizations access development tools, data repositories, and related Azure services to reinvent applications and gain new information from secured data. Azure Stack provides the same APIs and user interface as the Azure public cloud.

In future phases, the Cisco Container Platform will integrate more features to support Microsoft Windows container applications with the potential to leverage virtual-kubelet or Windows node pools in Azure, Compton stated. “In addition, we will support Azure Active Directory common identity integration for both on-prem and AKS clusters so customer/applications experience a single consistent environment across hybrid cloud.”

In addition, Cisco has a substantial portfolio of offerings running in the Azure cloud and available in the Azure Marketplace.  For example,  the company offers its Cloud Services Router, CSV1000v, as well as Meraki vMX, Stealthwatch Cloud, the Adaptive Security Virtual Appliance and its Next Generation Firewall. 

The Azure work broadens Cisco’s drive into cloud.  For example Cisco and Amazon Web Services (AWS) offer enterprise customers an integrated platform that promises to help them more simply build, secure and connect Kubernetes clusters across private data centers and the AWS cloud. 

The package, Cisco Hybrid Solution for Kubernetes on AWS, combines Cisco, AWS and open-source technologies to simplify complexity and helps eliminate challenges for customers who use Kubernetes to enable deploying applications on premises and across the AWS cloud in a secure, consistent manner.  The hybrid service integrates Cisco Container Platform (CCP) and Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS), so customers can provision clusters on premises and on EKS in the cloud.

Cisco also released a cloud-service program on its flagship software-defined networking (SDN) software that will let customers manage and secure applications running in the data center or in Amazon Web Service cloud environments. The service, Cisco Cloud application centric infrastructure (ACI) for AWS lets users configure inter-site connectivity, define policies and monitor the health of network infrastructure across hybrid environments, Cisco said.

Meanwhile, Cisco and Google have done extensive work on their own joint cloud-development activities to help customers more easily build secure multicloud and hybrid applications everywhere from on-premises data centers to public clouds. 

Cisco and Google have been working closely together since October 2017, when the companies said they were working on an open hybrid cloud platform that bridges on-premises and cloud environments. That package, Cisco Hybrid Cloud Platform for Google Cloud, became generally available in September 2018. It lets customer develop enterprise-grade capabilities from Google Cloud-managed Kubernetes containers that include Cisco networking and security technology as well as service mesh monitoring from Istio.

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