For bare metal containerized workload operations for hybrid clouds

There is no dispute that hybrid cloud is the de facto operating model for IT as it empowers organizations with agility and options for application modernization. In fact, in our first hybrid cloud global trends report, 82 percent of the nearly 2500 customers surveyed reported having a hybrid cloud strategy in place. Many of the companies, of course, are well along in their hybrid cloud journeys.

As more companies adopt hybrid cloud and accelerate application modernization, containerized application deployments are growing in tandem. Containers are self-contained packages of software that are well adapted to run in the modern de facto operating environment for large applications, e.g., Kubernetes clusters. Almost 80 percent of enterprises today have already adopted containers for production environments.

Containers are especially effective when they are migrated across different hybrid cloud domains namely on-premises data centers, colocation facilities, network edge, and public clouds. In fact, in the same hybrid cloud trends report, 53 percent of the survey said that they are moving at least some workloads between environment each week for key benefits such as resource optimization, business continuity, security, or other use cases.

Along with these customers trends, bare metal is growing in popularity as a computing technology to run containers for an expanding set of applications and customer use cases. Bare metal refers to computing platforms optimized for factors such as performance, security, and reliability in alignment with the needs of the workloads. As such, bare metal is particularly valuable for data-intensive workloads such as AI/ML or online transaction processing (OLTP) because they can be customized to deliver performance-boosting features as high-speed interconnects, specialized memory & storage, and multiple graphics processing units (GPUs).

Cisco Validated Designs: Tested and proven solutions

The collaboration between Cisco and Red Hat enables our two companies to target, identify, and build solutions for key hybrid cloud use cases such as business continuity, data backup, multicloud automation, and application modernization delivered through Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs). CVDs are the foundation for solutions based on common use cases or current engineering system priorities. Each one has been comprehensively tested and documented by Cisco engineers to ensure faster, more reliable, and fully predictable deployment.

Cisco works with a broad set of partners, technologies, features, and applications to address customer needs. To date, Cisco has delivered 20+ fullstack CVDs for Red Hat OpenShift to accelerate the deployment of cloud infrastructure and to provide adaptive, cloud-powered infrastructure management with automation across the clouds. An integral part of this collaboration is combining the power of Cisco Intersight and Red Hat OpenShift through API-based, SaaS-to-SaaS integrations.

Path forward: Simplifying IT operations for bare metal workloads in hybrid clouds

The focus for us now is to address increased customer interest in bare metal computing options to run containerized applications. This includes using Intersight to provide Red Hat OpenShift users with enhanced visibility and control to run and manage Red Hat OpenShift clusters on Cisco infrastructure in bare metal environments more easily. Our strategy is to use Cisco Intersight and Red Hat OpenShift to deliver value and important capabilities through the entire lifecycle of a Red Hat OpenShift deployment — from installation (“cluster zero”) to ongoing monitoring, maintenance, and upgrades (aka “day 2 operations”).

Here is a quick summary of the intended outcomes and customer benefits at each stage:

Stage 1 — Automating “cluster zero” deployment: Through Intersight we can automate key steps in the bare metal installation of Red Hat OpenShift using Server Profile Templates to define policies for compute BIOS settings, boot order and network/storage configurations. This can then be replicated as the customer deploys more Red Hat OpenShift clusters (aka “cluster n”). This also creates a standardized template for configuring the bare metal server, adapters, fabric extenders, and fabric interconnects thereby reducing the number of manual steps required for installing additional Red Hat OpenShift clusters.

Stage 2 — Simplifying multi-cluster scaling and management: The next logical step then is to simplify the delivery and experience of large-scale, multi-cluster, multi-tenant Red Hat OpenShift clusters on bare metal Cisco compute deployed in a variety of locations, e.g., data centers, at the edge, or even in the cloud. Through Intersight with Red Hat OpenShift, we can solve several key challenges of deploying and managing multiple clusters that customers may encounter such as dealing with inconsistent resources (compute, network, storage) and lack of policy and governance across infrastructure and development domains (staging vs production). We also want to make it easier for Red Hat OpenShift users to find and modify resources for expansion and capacity needs  in Cisco environments.

Stage 3 — Streamlining Day 2 Operations: Day-to-day operations of a large number of Red Hat OpenShift clusters that are distributed across the hybrid cloud can present several challenges without the right tools. An example is the lack of visibility across multiple infrastructure and cluster deployments. Another is the difficulty in gathering compliance and resource audits as well as for capacity planning and inventory expansion. Through the Intersight with Red Hat OpenShift, we can deploy innovative measures such as inventory information exchange between the two platforms to gain critical visibility and insights. This enables other capabilities such as auto-discovery of new bare metal compute available to Red Hat OpenShift in addition to other important day 2 operations tasks such as accelerated software upgrades, enhanced resource optimization, intelligent workload mobility, and security capabilities.

Cisco and Red Hat – better together

Cisco and Red Hat have enjoyed an ongoing, multi-year collaboration to drive IT modernization for joint customers in hybrid cloud environments. The solution example I highlighted in this blog is one example of how we are committed to working together to solve the most challenging, real-world problems that developers, cloud administrators, and IT operations teams face each day.

We will provide an update on these projects and other Cisco and Red Hat CVDs in future blogs and announcements. Also, please take a moment to read the blog from one of our technical marketing engineers with more details on the benefits and key capabilities of combining the power of Cisco Intersight and Red Hat Hybrid Cloud Console.