Christopher Liljenstolpe
Senior Director, Product Management and Architecture,
Cloud, Data Center Networking

By contributing author Christopher Liljenstolpe

A decade ago, legendary venture capitalist Marc Andreessen wrote a WSJ opinion article that provocatively (at that time) stated that “Software is eating the world” Today it’s safe to say that almost all enterprises are developing new applications for business processes by integrating in-house development, commercial offerings, and incorporating more SaaS and open-source components.

Organizations are migrating applications and services to cloud native design patterns—often based on a combination of open-source and SaaS components—and deploying them on multiple public clouds and cloud-like on-premise or dedicated infrastructure. To be successful at this effort, IT needs to reduce the friction between the DevOps teams that are responsible for delivering the direct business outcome, and the IT infrastructure teams that are tasked with supporting those teams. This friction has multiple components such as “agile vs waterfall” delivery models and “vertical silo vs horizontal” abstraction layer models. Relying on a tickets interface to the infrastructure teams and components is also very much an anti-pattern in cloud development.

Wherever possible, IT organizations need to adopt cloud native patterns by enabling APIs in as much of the infrastructure as possible and exposing those APIs within a framework relevant and consumable by the DevOps teams (such as Kubernetes API, Kafka, etc.). The use of CI/CD workflows across all layers of the organization will also help to reduce the friction and create a more idempotent and immutable infrastructure which are also cloud native patterns.

Investing in Cloud Native Integrations

Cisco understands that the evolution of the modern cloud native application relies on the network to provide application and API connectivity on a runtime platform for an ever-changing cloud topology. Cisco has a long commitment to providing a hybrid, multi-cloud application-first infrastructure as the de facto mode of operating IT. Three years ago, the Cisco Container Platform for Kubernetes provided integrations with all the popular public clouds and on-premise data centers. To simplify IT operations across multiclouds even more, Cisco is formalizing integration of ACI and Nexus Fabrics with Kubernetes Container Network Interfaces (CNI). For example, Cisco Intersight Kubernetes Service (IKS) is a fully curated Kubernetes deployment and management solution.

Cisco has already adopted globally accepted open-source tooling, such as Kafka’s messaging service, in our data center Cisco Nexus and Cisco ACI fabrics to create a cloud native messaging infrastructure. Last year, Cisco added a suite of open source tools from Banzai Cloud to reduce the friction in the development, deployment, monitoring, and management of cloud-native applications hosted in Kubernetes environments. We are in the process of integrating these tools into our Kubernetes-centric networking solutions to take full advantage of their multi-cloud, multi-cluster service mesh capabilities.

Bridging Infrastructure and Cloud Teams

Cisco Nexus Dashboard Orchestrator is another example of how Cisco is enabling Ops teams to work across multiple sites and clouds. It enables consistent connectivity and security policies across multiple data center sites and fabrics. Cisco Nexus Dashboard Orchestrator pushes the policies to multiple data centers and public clouds across the globe in a single step. This means that IT can move applications from on-prem to cloud provider “A” to cloud provider “B” and all the policies are automatically replicated and translated without human intervention.

Cisco Nexus Dashboard Insights automates troubleshooting and helps rapidly determine root causes of performance issues and suggests possible remediations that can be implemented with one click. This results in proactive notifications, a shorter time to troubleshoot, and better coordination between DevOps and NetOps.

Cisco Nexus Dashboard can improve the application development and deployment experience for multicloud applications with integrations into HashiCorp Terraform IaC and Ansible. Through the single pane of glass design of Nexus Dashboard, DevOps teams can model and leverage the infrastructure platform in a self-service manner by automating network provisioning with declarative abstractions and avoid the error-prone “swivel-chair” method of provisioning heterogeneous infrastructures.

As the center of gravity continues to rapidly move to native cloud applications, development and network operations teams will rely on open source tooling and Infrastructure as Code platforms to accelerate their application rollouts. By embracing and integrating these capabilities, Cisco is enabling teams to work together fluidly in heterogeneous environments to achieve the desired business outcomes. For example, Cisco Cloud Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) runs natively in public clouds such as Google Cloud, AWS, and Microsoft Azure, providing automated connectivity, policy translation, and enhanced visibility of workloads across public clouds.

Deploy. Connect. Secure. Operate.

Cisco’s strong commitment to Open Standards, Open Networking, and Open Source—encompassing Containers, Kubernetes, and Infrastructure-as-Code—supports our goal of ensuring network, cloud, and development teams can focus on connecting, securing, and operating their business applications. As software continues to permeate every business operation, transaction, and customer experience, Cisco is focused on ensuring that instead of “eating the world”, software, networks, and applications will be a dominant force in building an inclusive future for all of us.

Additional Resources

Cisco Keynote at ONUG: Cisco Enterprise SD-WAN Can Now Transit Over Google Global Cloud Infrastructure. Raj Gulani will be a Cisco keynote speaker together with representatives from Google, UBS, and Johnson & Johnson. Join us virtually to get a great perspective on Cisco’s multi-cloud SD-WAN solution. 

ONUG Customer Registration

Cisco at ONUG Fall 2020 | Virtual | Deploy. Connect. Secure. Operate.

Cisco Nexus Dashboard At-a-Glance

Video: Cisco Nexus Dashboard simplifies NetOps in the multicloud environment

Video: Cisco Nexus Dashboard simplifies application management with HashiCorp Terraform