In recent years, Kubernetes has risen up in popularity, especially with the developer community. And why do developers love Kubernetes? Because it offers incredible potential for speed, consistency, and flexibility for managing containers. But containers are not all sunshine and roses for enterprises – with big benefits come some big challenges. Nobody loves deploying, monitoring, and managing container lifecycles, especially across multiple public and private clouds. On top of that, there are many choices when it comes to environments, which can also create a lot of complexity – there are simply too many tools and too little standardization.

Production grade container environments powered by Kubernetes

That’s why earlier this year Cisco launched the Cisco Container Platform, a turnkey-solution for production grade container environments powered by Kubernetes. The Cisco Container Platform automates the repetitive functions and simplifies the complex ones so everyone can go back to enjoying the magic of containers. The Cisco Container Platform is a key element of Cisco’s overall container strategy and another way Cisco provides our customers with choices to various public clouds.

Cisco and Google ChallengeFigure 1: Cisco Hybrid Cloud for Google Cloud

Hybrid cloud applications are the next big thing for developers

At the beginning of the year Cisco joined forces with Google Cloud on a hybrid cloud offering that, among other things, allows enterprises to deploy Kubernetes-based containers on-premises and securely connect with Google Cloud Platform.

In July at Google Cloud Next ’18, we kicked off the Cisco & Google Cloud Challenge.  (You still have until November 1, 2018 to enter the challenge and win prizes.) The idea behind it is to give developers a window into the possibilities for building hybrid cloud applications. Hybrid cloud applications are the next frontier for developers. There are so many innovation possibilities for the hybrid cloud infrastructure. That’s why we even named it “Two Clouds, infinite possibilities.”

Cisco and Google ChallengeFigure 2: Timeline for the Cisco & Google Cloud Challenge

An IoT edge use case for inspiration

Consider the following use case –assume we have a factory which generates a huge amount of data from sensors deployed across the physical building. We would like to analyze that data on-premises, but take advantage of cloud services in Google Cloud Platform for further analysis. This could include running predictive analysis with Machine Learning (ML) on that data (i.e., which machine part is going to break next). “Edge” here represents a generic class of use cases with these characteristics:

  • Limited Network Bandwidth – Many manufacturing environments are remote, with limited bandwidth. Collecting data from hundreds of thousands of devices requires processing, buffering, and storage at the edge when bandwidth is limited. For instance, an offshore oil rig collects more than 50,000 data points per second, but less than 1% of this can be used in business decision making due to bandwidth constraints. Instead, analytics and logic can be applied at the edge, and summary decisions rolled up to the cloud.
  • Data Separation & Partitioning – Often data from a single source needs to go to different and/or multiple locations or cloud services for analytics processing. Parsing the data at the edge to identify its final destination based on the desired analytics outcome allows you to route data more effectively, lower cloud costs and management overhead, and provide for the ability to route data based on compliance or data sovereignty needs. For example sending PCI, PII, or GDPR classified data to one cloud or service, while device or telemetry data routes to others. Additionally, data pre-processing can occur at the edge to munge data such as time series formats into aggregate, reducing complexity in the cloud.
  • Data Filtering – Most data just isn’t interesting. But you don’t know that until you’ve received it at a cloud service and decide to drop it on the floor. For example, fire alarms send the most boring data 99.999% of the time. Until they send data that is incredibly important! There is often no need to store or forward this data until it is relevant to your business. Additionally, many data scientists now desire to run individually trained models at the edge, and if data no longer fits that model or is an exception, to send the entire data set to the cloud for re-training. Filtering with complex models also allows intelligent filtering at the edge that support edge decision making.
  • Edge Decision Making & Model Training – Training and storing ML models directly at the edge allows storing ephemeral models that may otherwise not be possible due to compliance or data sovereignty requirements. These models can act on ephemeral data that is not stored or forwarded, but still garner information and outcomes that can then be sent to centralized locations. Alternatively, models can be trained centrally in the cloud and pushed to the edge to perform any of the other listed edge functions. And when data no longer fits that model (such as collecting long tail time-series data) the entire data set can be aggregated to the cloud for retraining, and the model re-deployed to the edge endpoints.

Cisco and Google ChallengeFigure 3: Hybrid Cloud, Edge Compute Use-case

As a real-life example, here in Cisco DevNet, we developed a use-case for doing Object Recognition using video streams from IP cameras. The video gateway at the edge analyzed the video streams in real-time, did object detection at the edge and passed the object to the Cisco Container Platform which further did object recognition. The recognized object, and all the associated meta-data, were stored at this layer. An application to query this data was written in the public cloud to track the path of the object.

Give the Cisco & Google Cloud Challenge a try

There’s no doubt about the popularity of Kubernetes in the developer community. Cisco Hybrid Cloud Platform for Google Cloud takes away the complexity of managing private clusters and lets developers concentrate on the things they want to innovate on. Start with our DevNet Sandbox for CCP, reserve your instance and test-drive it for yourself.

The Cisco & Google Cloud Challenge is an awesome way to brainstorm and solve some real customer problems and even win some prizes while you are at it. So, consider this blog as me inviting everyone to give the Challenge a try, and wishing you the very best! You have until Nov 1, 2018 to enter the challenge and win prizes.

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Ashutosh Malegaonkar

Principal Engineer

Chief Technology and Architecture Office (CTAO)