In a previous blog back in December, we announced the Tech Preview of Intersight Kubernetes Service (IKS) which received tremendous interest. Over 50 internal sales teams, partners and customers participated and provided valuable recommendations and great validation for our offering and strategic direction. Today we are pleased to announce the general availability of IKS!

Intersight Kubernetes Service’s goal is to accelerate our customers’ container initiatives by simplifying the management effort for Kubernetes clusters across the full infrastructure stack and expanding the application operations toolkit. IKS provides flexibility and choice of infrastructure (on-prem, multi-hypervisor, bare metal, public cloud) so that our customers can focus on running and monetizing business critical applications in production, without having to worry about the challenges of open-source or figuring out the mechanics to manage, operate and correlate between each layer of the infrastructure stack.

With Cisco Intersight it can be easy

For IT admins and infrastructure operators IKS means an easy – almost hands-off – secure deployment and comprehensive lifecycle management of 100% open source Kubernetes (K8s) clusters and add-ons, with full-stack visibility from the on-prem server firmware and management up to the K8s application. Initially, ESXi targets will be supported, with bare metal and public cloud integrations coming soon, along with many other features, such as adopted clusters, multi-cluster and vGPU support.

For DevOps teams IKS is so much more than just a target to deploy K8s-based applications.  As a native service of the Intersight platform, DevOps engineers can now benefit from the recently announced HashiCorp partnership and brand new Intersight Service for HashiCorp Terraform, deploying their applications using Infrastructure as Code (Iac) and Terraform. They can also benefit from the native Intersight Workload Optimizer functionality, which means complete mapping of interdependencies between K8s apps and infrastructure, and AIOps-powered right-sizing (based on historical utilization of resources) and auto-scaling.

Let’s take a look at what IKS enables in a bit more detail:

A common platform for full-stack infrastructure and K8s management

The modern challenges for IT admins and infrastructure teams is navigating a hyper-distributed, extremely diverse IT landscape: hybrid cloud infrastructure with on-premises locations (data centers, edge, co-lo) and multiple clouds, heterogeneous stacks and workload requirements (bare metals, virtual machines, containers, serverless), and the need for speed to cater for internal customers (DevOps, SecOps, other IT and LoB users) and ultimately end-users!

The only way to address this complexity is to simplify with a unified, consistent cloud operating model and real-time automation to balance risk, cost and control. This is where Cisco Intersight comes in. Cisco Intersight is a common platform for intelligent visualization, optimization, and orchestration for applications and infrastructure (including K8s clusters/apps). It enables teams to automate and simplify operations, use full-stack observability to continuously optimize your environment, and work better and faster with DevOps teams for cloud native service delivery.

Intersight – The world’s simplest hybrid cloud platform

With IKS and other Intersight services, IT admins can easily build an entire K8s environment from server firmware management, to the hyperconverged layer, to deploying clusters in a few clicks via the GUI or directly using the APIs – and now with Terraform code! In addition, Intersight provides common identity management (SSO, API security), RBAC (two new roles for K8s admins and K8s operators) and multi-tenancy (server/hyperconverged/K8s layers) to support customers looking for a secure, isolated, managed and multi-tenant K8s platform.

IKS regular releases ensures that IT Admins can effortlessly keep K8s versions, add-on versions and security fixes up to date on their clusters. We curate, harden for security and manage essential and optional add-ons (CNI, CSI, L4 and L7 load balancer, K8s dashboard, Kubeflow, monitoring etc) to provide production grade tools to our customers.  Those IKS features allow customers to deploy and consume secure, consistent and reliable open-source K8s integrations without becoming CNCF landscape experts, and while maintaining the flexibility to port any other open-source components. Demo video available here.

Continuous Delivery for Kubernetes clusters and apps

IKS supports multiple options to integrate Kubernetes resources into customers’ continuous delivery pipelines, saving precious time and effort in configurations and development. Users can use OpenAPI, python SDK or Intersight Terraform provider (available here). This makes it easy to integrate IKS with customers’ existing Infrastructure as Code (IaC) strategies.

In addition, the recently announced Cisco Intersight Service for HashiCorp Terraform (IST) now makes it even simpler to securely integrate their on-prem environments and resources with their IaC plans – a result of our partnership with HashiCorp.

For many, however, the preferred way is to continuously deploy application Helm charts to the clusters. To address this requirement, another IKS feature we will be adding soon will be a Continuous Delivery toolkit for Helm charts, equipping customers with yet another mechanism to deploy and manage their application on their K8s platform.

Full-stack app visualization, AIOps rightsizing and intelligent top-down auto-scaling

Another important Intersight native service that IKS benefits from is Intersight Workload Optimizer (IWO). By installing the IWO agent helm chart on IKS tenant clusters, customers benefit from a comprehensive observability and automation toolkit for their K8s platforms, freeing them to focus on what matters: onboarding application teams and increasing K8s adoption.

Today IWO with IKS works in 3 ways (demo video):

  • First, with IWO, customers can gain insights with interdependency mapping between K8s apps across virtual machines, servers, storage and networks, for simplified, automated troubleshooting and monitoring.
  • Second, IWO allows DevOps teams to right-size K8s applications without the labor of manually pouring over the real-time traffic data patterns against configured limits, requests or namespace quota constraints, in order to identify the optimal CPU and memory thresholds for horizontal and vertical pod auto-scaler. Instead, IWO automatically detects thresholds based on user-configured policies.
  • Finally, IWO enables intelligent, top-down auto-scaling – from the K8s app, to the cluster, to the infrastructure layer. Typically, DevOps teams use the Kubernetes default scheduler to handle fluctuating demand for their applications. While this is ok with the initial pod placement, it doesn’t help during the lifecycle of the pod, where actions might need to be taken due to node congestion or low traffic demand. IWO automatically and continuously redistributes IKS workloads and pods to mitigate that node congestion or optimize under-usetilized infrastructure. This results in better scaling decisions.

Intersight Kubernetes Service is a big step towards evolving Intersight to enable IT Operations and DevOps teams for their cloud operating model of the future. Stay tuned as we will be adding exciting new capabilities in the upcoming months, continuously expanding the IKS functionality with weekly production pushes! Last but not least, please give it a try with a 90-day trial.


Meenakshi Kaushik

Product Manager, Engineering