The transition to cloud native application architectures is rapidly growing and becoming mainstream, increasing the need for container operationalization and management. According to a Gartner report, “growing adoption of cloud-native applications and infrastructure will increase use of container management to over 75% of large enterprises in mature economies by 2024, up from less than 35% in 2020.”

Three years ago we launched Cisco Container Platform (CCP), a self-hosted software container management platform, based on upstream Kubernetes, offering integrations with all the popular public clouds as well as any hardware on-premises. As we have been enabling customers in their containerization and DevOps journeys, we always come across the three key personas that we are trying to help: IT Admins, DevOps and development teams.

  • IT Admins, responsible for not just for the Kubernetes layer but also the end-to-end cloud infrastructure. They are looking for common tools to easily deploy, manage, visualize, and monitor across the entire infrastructure stack, from server firmware management, to the hyperconverged layer, to the automation and container lifecycle management.
  • DevOps teams are responsible for the stack’s Day 2 operations. They are looking to protect the precious application data and automate deployment to be able to scale across both infrastructure and application stack.
  • Development teams want a simple API to hide infrastructure complexity and tools to automate continuous delivery of their Kubernetes-based applications.

The feedback was consistent: how can we expand the functionality of our container management offering to enable integrated management of the complete infrastructure stack under the Kubernetes layer?

That’s exactly why we built Intersight Kubernetes Service.

Expanding Intersight with Kubernetes management


Back in October this year, at Cisco’s Partner Summit, we made a series of announcements under a common umbrella message of “simplifying IT operations across multicloud”. One of them was regarding Cisco Intersight and its evolution. Cisco’s Intersight, from a Cisco data center infrastructure management solution, is becoming a comprehensive cloud operations platform, helping users simplify the management and optimization of infrastructure, workload and applications – on-premises and on public clouds.

One of the first brand new modules to come out of the exciting new Intersight roadmap is Intersight Kubernetes Service (IKS). IKS effectively expands the Cisco Container Platform’s functionality to benefit from Intersight’s native infrastructure management capabilities, further simplifying building and managing Kubernetes environments. IKS is a SaaS offering, taking away the hassle of installing, hosting, and managing a container management solution. For organizations with specific requirements, it also offers two additional deployment options: (with a Virtual Appliance). So let’s take a look at how IKS can make the lives of our personas easier.

Building an end-to-end data center and edge Kubernetes environment with a few clicks

A good example comes from the retail sector: an IT admin needs to quickly create and configure hundreds of edge locations for the company’s retail branches to do AI/ML processing and a few core ones in privately-owned or co-located data centers. The reason it makes sense for processing or storing large chunks of data at the edge is the cost of shipping the data back to the core DC or to a public cloud (and latency to a certain extent).

Creating those Kubernetes clusters would require firmware upgrades, OS and hypervisor installations before we even get to the container layer. With Cisco Intersight providing a comprehensive, common orchestration and management layer, from server and fabric management, to hyperconverged infrastructure management to Kubernetes, creating from scratch a container environment can be literally done with a few clicks.

IT admins can use either the IKS GUI, its APIs or integrate with an Infrastructure as Code plan (such as HashiCorp’s Terraform) to quickly deploy a Kubernetes environment, on a variety of platforms – VMware ESXi hypervisors, Cisco HyperFlex™ Application Platform (HXAP) hypervisors and/or directly on Cisco HyperFlex™ Application Platform bare metal servers (coming soon) – enabling significant savings and efficiency without the need of virtualization.

Similar to the Cisco Container Platform, IKS will also soon support public cloud integrations with all the popular providers. After deploying the environment customers can easily lifecycle manage the entire stack as shown in this video (shown between 1.49-3.22). 

Adding full-stack application visibility with Intersight Workload Optimizer

DevOps teams want to bridge the application and infrastructure gap as much as possible. They would be looking to right-size their application replicas (vertically and horizontally scaling of pods and nodes) based on traffic load. A benefit of IKS is that users can connect their Kubernetes workloads to another Intersight SaaS module used for application resource management, Intersight Workload Optimizer, and benefit from right-sizing their containers (by monitoring the traffic between the pods) as explained here (4.23 – 6.11). This way customers can get maximum ROI from the different locations where capacity can be an issue such as edge locations.

At the same time, IT Admins are always aiming for complete visibility across the application and infrastructure stack, beyond just the Kubernetes layer. As both IKS and IWO are part of the same platform, users can get a comprehensive view on the health of the entire stack, which is crucially important when remediating.

Stay tuned for our big IKS general availability launch in February 2021

As we work on the roadmap for IKS and the new features it will bring, we couldn’t be more excited to work with customers exploring new grounds on how to offer more value and accelerate IT operations.

For more information



Meenakshi Kaushik

Product Manager, Engineering