Cisco Introduces First Hybrid Kubernetes Platform Support For Amazon EKS

By Rhett Dillingham - November 8, 2018
Cisco's Hybrid Solution for Kubernetes on Amazon AWS.   CISCO

Today, Cisco Systems announced the introduction of a new hybrid deployment option for joint customers of Cisco Systems and Web Services (AWS) who deploy their container-based applications on Kubernetes. The Cisco Hybrid Solution for Kubernetes on AWS enables configuration of the Kubernetes-based Cisco Container Platform optimized for ease of deploying applications on Kubernetes across either Cisco-based on-premises infrastructure or the Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (Amazon EKS). Cisco is the first Kubernetes software platform provider to introduce portability across on-premises infrastructure deployments and Amazon EKS. This is a significant win for Cisco in differentiating its Kubernetes platform from alternatives, such as Red Hat's (and soon IBM's) OpenShift platform and VMware / Pivotal's PKS platform.

Existing enterprise options Kubernetes is fast becoming a ubiquitous tool for container orchestration in the enterprise. As enterprises invest in platforms that offer ease of managing Kubernetes-based application deployments, they must assess their needs across public cloud and private infrastructure. Ideally, they can deliver a hybrid cloud platform implementation that delivers commonality for application teams across their multiple cloud environments. One option for Kubernetes cluster management is the use of public cloud provider Kubernetes services. These services are great for automating management of the Kubernetes cluster, particularly its control system, in a way that absolves the user from managing updates to Kubernetes and the underlying software stack on which it is deployed. The challenge is that these services from market share-leading cloud providers AWS and Microsoft Azure are not offered in a complementary managed form on private infrastructure, so enterprises have been left to manage deployments of Kubernetes on private infrastructure with a separate implementation. This has meant, for example, that there has been no ease of integration of Kubernetes-based application development, test, and deployment pipelines across Amazon EKS and private infrastructure. To deliver a more seamless hybrid user experience across cloud environments, enterprises can turn to software platforms such as those from Red Hat, VMware / Pivotal, Mesosphere, etc. (that I've recently profiled). The tradeoff is that these software platforms are designed for deployment on the infrastructure layer's virtual machines or bare metal servers, so they do not take advantage of the automation and ease of use of the Kubernetes services available from AWS or Microsoft Azure. Enterprises have been forced to make a tradeoff in these choices that they would rather avoid, which I heard voiced strongly, for example, across the large US financial services, health care, and transportation firms at the recent ONUG enterprise cloud user conference. Cisco delivers a more seamless hybrid option The Cisco Hybrid Solution for Kubernetes on AWS enables the firstseamless use of Kubernetes across Cisco Container Platform and Amazon EKS. To start, Cisco has implemented this through integrated identity and access management with AWS. Cisco also offers the option of using a shared container image repository for application deployments across AWS and stored either via AWS's Elastic Container Registry (ECR) or via Cisco Container Platform. Bigger picture, Cisco is delivering a stack of multi-cloud software tools, including AppDynamics for application performance monitoring, Stealthwatch Cloud for network security, and Cisco CloudCenter for multi-cloud management, that complements the use of its container platform when managing applications in containers or directly in virtual machines across private infrastructure and AWS. Also, while Cisco's hybrid solution for Kubernetes is a first for AWS, it follows Cisco's prior introduction from September of similar hybrid capability for Google Cloud's Kubernetes Engine. Closing thoughts Cisco's introduction of support for a more seamless hybrid use of Kubernetes across private infrastructure and Amazon EKS – along with its existing support for Google Cloud’s GKE – delivers a strong point of differentiation in its push for enterprise adoption of its still relatively new Container Platform. It will be interesting to see how long Cisco can sustain this angle of differentiation and potentially further it with additional integrations of capabilities per cloud provider and/or introduction of support for Microsoft’s Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). VMWare's announced acquisition of Heptio this week is likely, in part, an effort to address the need for this type of capability in its PKS platform. This space is evolving very rapidly. I expect each of the top Kubernetes platform providers will have a strong presence with further announcements coming at the annual Cloud Native Computing Foundation Kubernetes conference, KubeCon, in December.
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