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I am sure you have heard of Cloud Computing and how awesome it is to have everything centrally working in one place. But how about a different approach: Putting computing workload on to networking devices like a switch for example. In many cases this might be actually very beneficial!

As an example, why not host your computer game servers directly on the switch instead of connecting to any dedicated server far away – it’s closer locally. This is exactly what I tried out.

Watch this video to see how it works, and read on for more details!

App Hosting: Cisco IOS XE meets Docker

IOS XE app hosting minecraft

Basically, it is really simple: You can install docker containers on several Cisco networking hardware and manage them remotely or directly on the box via a web UI, CLI or API. For the Minecraft server I used a Cisco Catalyst 9300 switch and used the Cisco DNA Center to install the application on the switch. Here are the action steps in detail:

#1 Create the Docker package file (.tar)
This was actually pretty simple as there is already an awesome docker image available on dockerhub:
After a <docker pull>, I exported the docker image with <docker save> into a .tar file which is the package that will be installed on the switch.

#2 Install the package file via Cisco DNA Center
Since my Catalyst 9300 was already provisioned with the Cisco DNA Center and had already the SSD module inserted, I could simply install the Minecraft server .tar-package.
I just needed to do some additional networking configuration to access the container via VPN from home (because of the Covid-19 situation).

#3 Connect and PLAY!
This was the best step! I just needed to open the Minecraft Java client and could directly connect to the Minecraft server on the Catalyst 9300 by putting the specific IP address and port.

Other Cisco Hardware Platforms & Options

I used for the Minecraft server a Catalyst 9300, because I already had one ready and deployed in my lab. However, there are of course other options as well!

You can install containerized applications also on other Cisco hardware platforms such as other switches, routers and even access points. Depending on the hardware you can also deploy virtual machine images (e.g. OVAs).

Find here an overview of the various platforms.

IOX app hosting platform minecraft blog

Additional Resources