Cisco connects with IBM to simplify hybrid cloud deployment

Cisco’s data centre, networking and analytics platforms to meld with IBM’s cloud offerings

20 June 2019

Cisco and IBM said the companies would meld their data centre and cloud technologies to help customers more easily and securely build and support on-premises and hybrid cloud applications.

Cisco, IBM Cloud and IBM Global Technology Services (the professional services business of IBM) said they will work to develop a hybrid-cloud architecture that melds Cisco’s data centre, networking and analytics platforms with IBM’s cloud offerings. IBM’s contribution includes a heavy emphasis on Kubernetes-based offerings such as Cloud Foundry and Cloud Private as well as a catalogue of IBM enterprise software such as WebSphere and open source software such as Open Whisk, KNative, Istio and Prometheus.

Cisco said customers deploying its Virtual Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) technologies can now extend that network fabric from on-premises to the IBM Cloud. ACI is Cisco’s software-defined networking (SDN) data centre package, but it also delivers the company’s intent-based networking technology, which brings customers the ability to automatically implement network and policy changes on the fly and ensure data delivery.




IBM said Cisco ACI Virtual Pod (vPOD) software can now run on IBM Cloud bare-metal servers. “vPOD consists of virtual spines and leafs and supports up to eight instances of ACI Virtual Edge. These elements are often deployed on VMware services on the IBM Cloud to support hybrid deployments from on-premises environments to the IBM Cloud,” the company stated.

“Through a new relationship with IBM’s global technology services team, customers can implement Virtual ACI on their IBM Cloud,” Cisco’s Kaustubh Das, vice president of strategy and product development wrote in a blog about the agreement. “Virtual ACI is a software-only solution that you can deploy wherever you have at least two servers on which you can run the VMware ESXi hypervisor. In the future, the ability to deploy IBM Cloud Pak for Applications in a Cisco ACI environment will also be supported,” he stated.

IBM’s pre-packaged Cloud Paks include a secured Kubernetes container and containerised IBM middleware designed to let customers quickly spin-up enterprise-ready containers, Big Blue said.

Additionally, IBM said it would add support for its IBM Cloud Private, which manages Kubernetes and other containers, on Cisco HyperFlex and HyperFlex Edge hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) systems. HyperFlex is Cisco’s HCI that offers computing, networking and storage resources in a single system. The package can be managed via Cisco’s Intersight software-as-a-service cloud management platform that offers a central dashboard of HyperFlex operations.

IBM said it was adding Hyperflex support to its IBM Cloud Pak for Applications as well.

The Pak includes IBM Multicloud Manager which is a Kubernetes-based platform that runs on the company’s IBM Cloud Private platform and lets customers manage and integrate workloads on clouds from other providers such as Amazon, Red Hat and Microsoft.

At the heart of the Multicloud Manager is a dashboard interface for managing thousands of Kubernetes applications and huge volumes of data regardless of where in the organisation they are located.

The idea is that Multicloud Manager lets operations and development teams get visibility of Kubernetes applications and components across the different clouds and clusters via a single control pane.

“With IBM Multicloud Manager, enterprises can have a single place to manage multiple clusters running across multiple on-premises, public and private cloud environments, providing consistent visibility, governance and automation from on-premises to the edge, wrote IBM’s Evaristus Mainsah, general manager of IBM Cloud Private Ecosystem in a blog about the relationship.

Distributed workloads can be pushed out and managed directly at the device at a much larger scale across multiple public clouds and on-premises locations. Visibility, compliance and governance are provided with extended MCM capabilities that will be available at the lightweight device layer, with a connection back to the central server/gateway, Mainsah stated.

In addition, Cisco’s AppDynamics can be tied in to monitor infrastructure and business performance, Cisco stated. Cisco recently added AppDynamics for Kubernetes, which Cisco said will reduce the time it takes to identify and troubleshoot performance issues across Kubernetes clusters.

The companies said the hybrid cloud architecture they envision will help reduce the complexity of setting up and managing hybrid cloud environments.

Cisco and IBM are both aggressively pursuing cloud customers. Cisco ramped up its own cloud presence in 2018 with all manner of support stemming from an agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS) that will offer enterprise customers an integrated platform to help them more simply build, secure and connect Kubernetes clusters across private data centres and the AWS cloud.

Cisco and Google in April expanded their joint cloud development activities to help customers more easily build secure multi-cloud and hybrid applications everywhere from on-premises data centres to public clouds.

IBM is waiting to close its $34 billion (€30 billion) Red Hat deal that it expects will give it a huge presence in the hotly contested hybrid-cloud arena and increase its inroads to competitors – Google, Amazon and Microsoft among others. Gartner says that market will be worth $240 billion (€212 billion) by next year.

IDG News Service

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