Cisco containing clouds, enterprises

Cloud Native Platform coming next month; container stack for enterprise workloads on tap too

zorawar biri singh cisco cto profile pic 2015

Cisco will soon unveil a container “stack” for developers of cloud applications and services, and expects to have one for enterprises over time as well.

The Cloud Native Platform will emerge in April, according to Yvette Kanouff, Cisco senior vice president and general manager, Cloud Solutions. It will be delivered as a SaaS model with continuous integration/continuous delivery, and include containerized automated infrastructure as its base, policy-based management and orchestration as a middle layer, and analytics, development tools, and initial hybrid cloud applications in its framework.

Kanouff discussed the Cloud Native Platform during her keynote address at last week’s Cisco Partner Summit in San Diego. It is not the same as the cloud native platform referenced in Cisco’s recent resale partnership with Pivotal, said Zorawar “Biri” Singh, Cisco senior vice president and CTO of Platforms and Solutions.

“Cloud Native Platform is different, it’s a container-specific stack with Mantl,” Cisco’s PaaS framework for managing containerized microservices. Mantl uses Mesos and Kubernetes for scheduling.

The Cloud Native Platform is “an active project we’ve been working on with team of developers,” Singh says. “Pivotal is more about classic PaaS; it’s less about language frameworks and more about infrastructure configuration deployment.”

The Cloud Native Platform will support virtual network function (VNF) service chaining to the cloud, and virtualize the VNF “catalog” of services in the cloud, Singh says. There’s another container stack in development for enterprise data centers too that will eventually take back big workloads that have been shifted to the public cloud.

“Every next gen service, every next SaaS application is going to be written on bare metal containers with microservices managing the interactions,” Singh says. “Any startup doing anything with infrastructure is doing this. Most innovation departments in enterprises are doing this. So new, next generation data center buildouts will be using a modern container stack, (with) microservices. Which will scale.”

Singh believes that in five years, 30% of big public workloads – those with 40,000 VMs to 100,000 VMs – will come off of the public cloud and go to these modern container stacks on enterprise premises. Cisco will be participating in that container-based infrastructure buildout, he says.

“At scale, it’s actually pretty expensive” to run big workloads in the cloud, Singh says. “As enterprises build workloads and realize it’s really all about data services, control of their data, having their own analytics in-house, and having machine learning and predictive capabilities over their own data vs. using third party tools will matter a lot” in terms of data privacy, governance, security, etc.

“Infrastructure is going to get vastly simplified in a container world so it’s a lot easier for IT infrastructure managers to actually understand and have the agility, the elasticity, the pay-per-use of a cloud environment,” he says.

And that enterprise container stack will likely include Docker, Mantl with Kubernetes and Mesos, and elements of Cisco’s Contiv open source project, which defines infrastructure operational policies for container-based application deployment.

“Every modern enterprise application… most greenfield apps and more importantly data services will be built on a next gen container stack,” Singh says. “We want to build these stacks for the relevant share of wallet spend, and we want to build an orchestration layer that makes it simple from on-premises to different clouds, and the consumption model there.”

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