Cisco and Docker are working with our ecosystem of strategic partners and the open source community to develop open and unique solutions. This alliance is another step in the strategy Cisco has been implementing for the past several years.

Guest Blogger: Vish Jakka, Product Manager, Data Center Solutions

If you’ve been in the IT industry for as long as I have been, you can tend to get cynical when you hear two companies announce a strategic partnership. Generally, there is a joint press release, executives from the two companies meet on stage and make great claims, and there’s some initial excitement. Six to 12 months later reality sets in. Customers actually try to implement the new “solutions” from the partners, and they begin to realize the reality creates more challenges than expected.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

I am the product manager responsible for the Cisco-Docker alliance on Cisco UCS products. Working with Ken Spear, the marketing manager, we thought that it would be good to post a blog shortly after the launch. As someone who is responsible for making sure these new solutions actually meet customer expectations, I thought I could provide a real world perspective. My job is to make sure that “the rubber meets the road”, and it takes our customers in a good direction while minimizing any bumps along the way.

In the Cisco/Docker announcement blog, my boss, Siva Sivakumar, made the following statement:

Partnerships have been an essential dimension of the Cisco data center strategy, because customers expect us to provide solutions that are open and integrated while still providing value-add.

My job is to work with a team of people to make sure we achieve this objective as customers actually implement the solutions we develop.

Engineer to Engineer

I’ve been managing Cisco’s OpenStack and Converged Infrastructure solutions for the past couple of years, and we’ve been working hard with a number of partners in our ecosystem to make these goals a reality. Now we are applying these same principles and building on the relationships we’ve developed with many other hardware vendors and ISVs to our partnership with Docker. We’ve been working with the team at Docker for several months now, and they are a great addition to our broad partner ecosystem.

Two executives on the same stage for five minutes and a press release won’t generate real results, even if Docker Engine comes preinstalled on the hardware. If you want to understand what’s significant about this alliance, just think of it as a bunch of smart people working together to make sure the solutions we develop work together as intended when you implement them. What’s different is that these people work for different companies on different teams. It’s the chemistry we’ve developed, good communication, and support from our management that allows us to sort things out and be effective in addressing customer needs and meeting their expectations.

Why CVDs Make Sense

Containers provide great advantages, but they are not the same as moving applications to virtual machines. There’s more complexity. That’s one of the reasons we decided to use our Cisco Validated Design (CVD) as an approach to developing solutions. The CVD allows us to define the ingredients from Cisco and our partners. We work with the engineering teams to determine the best way to implement the solutions and test them, so we can support them effectively. These CVDs provide choices to customers based on the application types, workload characteristics, version and converged infrastructure preferences among other things. A CVD can evolve over time, as we add new functionality and refine the solution.

Out of this initial joint effort, we now have two of our open and unique designs. The first is the Docker Datacenter (DDC) on Cisco UCS CVD, and the second is the Docker Datacenter (DDC) on FlexPod CVD. These validated designs help ensure ease of deployment and optimized performance for Docker applications across the stack. Uday Shetty of Docker described the process we used to “certify” and test the solutions in his recent blog. As Uday noted,

CVDs represent the gold standard reference architecture methodology for enterprise customers looking to deploy an end-to-end solution. The CVDs follow defined processes and covers not only provisioning and configuration of the solution, but also test and document the solutions against performance, scale and availability/failure – something that requires a lab setup with a significant amount of hardware that reflects actual production deployments. 

These are validated designs, not merely reference architectures. They include the following:

  • Installation of the three products included in the DDC subscription: Commercially Supported (CS) Docker Engine, Docker Trusted Registry (DTR), and Docker Universal Control Plane (UCP).
  • Both designs are implemented on Cisco UCS B-Series Blade Servers, Cisco UCS C-Series rack servers and Cisco Nexus switches.
  • The DDC on FlexPod CVD documents the use of NetApp storage system for storage persistence.
  • The NetApp AFF 8040 storage system is integrated with Docker Datacenter using the NetApp Docker Volume Plugin (nDVP) to provide persistent storage for containers using the Network File System (NFS), see Figure 1 below.
  • The containers are deployed and managed by Docker UCP.

Figure 1: Overview of Docker Datacenter implemented on NetApp Storage

The two CVDs are the first examples of how we are developing solutions with Docker and our partners. (NetApp also posted a blog describing our joint development on the FlexPod CVD.) We will develop and refine more solutions with our converged infrastructure partners, as we continue to implement our strategy.

Containers are a key enabling technology, and Cisco wants to make sure we play a significant role in ensuring your organization is successful as you deliver new applications into production. We are working on more solutions with our partners, so stay tuned.

For more information go to https://www.cisco.com/go/ucscontainers



Ken Spear

Sr. Marketing Manager, Automation

UCS Solution Marketing