Fabio Gori, senior director for cloud solutions marketing at Cisco, said the platform addresses growing challenges facing enterprises looking at containers. This includes end-to-end management of container clusters and an open source model that is extensible across deployment environments.

Gori cited enterprise and IT operations concerns over how to deploy containers in hybrid environments, and that current “multiple open source solutions can turn into a science project.”

“IT ops does not want to deal with a science project or additional maintenance complexity,” Gori explained.

Dave Cope, senior director at Cisco’s cloud platform and solutions group, added that Cisco looked to take advantage of products that were already in the market in a move to further eliminate confusion.

“We are not going to create a new Kubernetes distro,” Cope said. “We worked directly with Google using the Ubuntu distro, but provided critical differences targeted at developers and IT ops.”

For developers, Cope said the platform includes open source tools and a layer of transparency to ensure developer work moves across different configurations. For IT operations, Cisco is providing an extension into the Kubernetes control plane and APIs and a user interface for better management.

“It really provides a containerized platform that can move from developer-centric to workloads in a production environment,” Cope said.

Cisco Optimized

The platform is optimized for Cisco’s infrastructure, highlighted by initial availability (V.1) tied to its recently updated HyperFlex 3.0 hyperconverged infrastructure platform. That initial availability, which is scheduled for April, can be licensed separately or as an integrated product.

Version two (V.2), which is schedule for release this “summer,” will add more generic virtual machines (VMs), bare metal support, and public cloud environments. Cope said this version will also include direct integration with Cisco’s CloudCenter for policy-based management and integration between applications running inside and outside of a container environment.

Cope noted V.2 will also take advantage of a deal between Cisco and Google signed last October. That agreement provided Google with a foothold in the enterprise data center. It also gave Cisco a public cloud partner as its customers increasingly adopt multi-cloud computing environments.

“While we will initially offer this on HyperFlex, we also realize customers will want to run on other environments,” Cope said.

Gori added that the move also allowed Cisco to optimize the product for other providers as it was rolled out to the market.

Stephen Elliot, program vice president at IDC, applauded the strategy as being aligned with what many enterprises are looking for, as well as for Cisco’s own internal operations.

“Having both options will be a smart move,” Elliot said. “From a channel perspective, it gives Cisco different sales models.”

As for similar offerings flooding the market, Gori said Cisco’s value proposition was due to its support and the extensibility of the platform. Elliot echoed the sentiment.

“If you are a Cisco customer and thinking about public cloud and containers, you should probably take at look at this option,” Elliot said. He noted that it was still early days in terms of cloud and container management with many customers still experimenting with those platforms and often just defaulting to Kubernetes as their manager.

“But, when these large enterprises go to production, they realize it’s not something that is nice to have, but is really a need to have for managing and security orchestration capabilities,” Elliot explained.

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