Over the past 18 months, we’ve been witnessing a rapid transformation in the way applications are built, packaged, shipped, deployed, and instantiated. This change has been driven by developer demands for simplicity and a shift in focus towards an application-centric view of IT. To find evidence of this trend, look no further than the skyrocketing popularity of Docker and the movement towards microservice based architectures for running applications.
You could think of microservices as a service oriented architecture built around independently deployable, loosely coupled software components. By providing the infrastructure to build, ship and run these services, Docker has become one of the most important open source infrastructure projects in the world today.
Why are microservices and Docker so important? Well, we’re witnessing a bit of a Darwinian process occur at an extremely fast pace in the cloud world today. Tools that offer benefits in simplicity, speed, scale, and flexibility to applications developers succeed while others fall out of favor. Docker does an amazing job at shrinking build, test, and deployment cycles and providing a means of separating the functions of infrastructure, platform, and application teams through microservices. Some of the largest web scale companies in the world have already proven this works and now the challenge remains in bringing more generally into the enterprise environment.
This transition is extremely exciting and creates a number of opportunities for Cisco in the datacenter. While this is far from an exhaustive list, I wanted to highlight some of the key ones we are seeing.
- Deliver scalable, manageable infrastructure optimized for microservice architectures. We can make it extremely easy for users to use our UCS, Nexus, and Application-Centric Infrastructure to build turnkey environments with the network, compute, and storage performance and scale they require.
- Develop application and operational intent frameworks that leverage Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). Cisco ACI and its application-centric policy language are a perfect fit for Docker and microservice architectures. The policy language offers the simplicity and the separation of infrastructure requirements that developers are seeking. Our team is also contributing to the open source community to accelerate the adoption of policy as well.
- Help our customers deploy Docker and microservices alongside the environments and tools they already run today. As Cisco, it is incumbent on us to help provide the unified management tools and infrastructure to offer onramps to this new technology, allowing it to run alongside legacy environments.
- Carry out the organizational changes needed to take advantage of microservices. As Docker and microservices enable greater separation between infrastructure and apps teams, Cisco can play a major role in training over 2 million Cisco-certified professionals to lead this transformation.
- Bringing microservices to the network gear itself. We already allow users to run container-based services directly on our Nexus switches so they can begin to leverage some of the same approaches that are appearing in the computing environment.
So, even at a glance, the rise of Docker containers and microservices creates a tremendous set of opportunities for innovation. We’re particularly excited about libnetwork, the new Docker network plugin framework, which will be a critical point of integration for Cisco. Its also an incredibly reassuring and healthy sign that the Docker community is committed to being open and responsive to the needs of its users.
We have already started using this framework to connect Docker with a breadth of networking technology and offer the seamless integration our customers need. In particular, we have created the Contiv project as an a generic network clustering plugin which integrates with Docker’s libnetwork and we’re excited to work with the community around it.
As we’ve seen over the past year, Docker and microservices more generally are well on their journey to transforming the datacenter. We’d love to see you help us by joining in the open source development of Contiv or Docker directly or by reaching out to your account teams to learn more about Cisco solutions for containers.