Cisco Promises ‘Single Pane of Glass’ for Kubernetes, Hybrid Cloud

The company’s new SaaS products integrate all its dashboards to make life simpler for IT operations, swamped with complexity.

Wylie Wong, Regular Contributor

November 3, 2020

5 Min Read
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GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images

Cisco has introduced new technology the company says will enable its enterprise customers to easily deploy Kubernetes and more easily monitor and manage data center operations on premises and in the public cloud.

At its Cisco Partner Summit conference last week, the tech giant said it will release two Software-as-a-Service offerings by year’s end: Intersight Kubernetes, which allows enterprises to easily install and manage Kubernetes across a hybrid cloud environment; and Intersight Workload Optimizer, which lets organizations oversee compute workloads, proactively manage performance and optimize costs between internal data centers and the cloud.  

Cisco also announced the Cisco Nexus Dashboard, centralized software that integrates previously standalone Cisco management tools to provide real-time insights and help enterprises automate the management of data center networks across their hybrid cloud environments.

Worth your time: If you work in IT operations, don't miss the upcoming DCK webinar on hybrid cloud and multi-cloud, titled Hybrid Cloud: The Benefits of NOT Going All-In

The company also released new cloud-native features in its AppDynamics application performance monitoring tool, including integration with Workload Optimizer, which eliminates silos and allows application and IT infrastructure teams to collaborate, troubleshoot, and optimize the health and performance of applications and infrastructure.

Related:Is Kubernetes Changing Data Centers in Perceptible Ways?

“What we’ve done is make major innovations into each of these domains to work better together and bring more automation and analytics capabilities to each one of these platforms,” said Prashanth Shenoy, a VP of marketing at Cisco, in an interview with DCK.

The product announcements are part of Cisco’s overarching “Agile Platform Strategy” to provide IT organizations the tools they need to eliminate silos between data center, cloud, networking, security, and developer teams and allow them to operate smarter and faster, as they accelerate their digital transformation projects and migration to the cloud, particularly during the pandemic, he said.

As enterprise customers increasingly migrate workloads to hybrid cloud architectures, they need integrated tools to monitor and proactively manage their in-house data centers and public cloud environments – and that’s what Cisco and their competitors are working to accomplish, industry analysts said.

The hybrid, multi-cloud world, which includes private and public clouds and edge data centers, is complex for IT professionals, and Cisco’s efforts with its latest announcements will simplify management, said Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research.

Related:VMware Propagates Its Kubernetes Solution Tanzu Across Hyperscale Clouds

“Cisco has been the king of the single pane of glass. They have dashboards for everything,” Kerravala told us. “They are doing the hard work of integrating the information across their dashboards because, without that, it leads to swivel-chair IT operations management, where you are looking at data and trying to correlate it manually.”

Managing Data Center Networks

Brad Casemore, IDC’s research VP for data center networks, said the Nexus Dashboard is a significant enhancement for Cisco.

“It provides a centralized control point for data center-network automation across ACI and NX-OS fabrics, spanning a single data center or multiple data centers,” Casemore told DCK. “For Cisco customers, the result is simplified and accelerated fabric deployments and more automated Day 2 operations.”

Nexus Dashboard is a management tool that integrates three previous Cisco network management tools: Nexus Insights, which provides real-time network visibility and allows organizations to troubleshoot and remediate problems; Cisco Network Assurance Engine, which provides continuous verification of data center network state and policy and allows IT staff to predict outages and ensure compliance; and Multi-site Orchestrator, which allows customers to connect multiple data center network sites. 

“We re-architected these tools from the ground up to make it work as a single, integrated system,” Shenoy said.

Nexus Dashboard also allows the network operations team to align with DevOps’ needs, IDC’s Casemore said. That’s important because IDC predicts that by 2023, more than 55 percent of enterprises will replace outdated operational models with cloud-centric ones that facilitate organizational collaboration – and data center networks play a role in that.

Nexus Dashboard is available as an on-premises appliance this month and will be available as a cloud-hosted solution or a virtual appliance in the 2021 first quarter, Shenoy said. A future version will integrate with third-party management tools, such as Splunk and ServiceNow, providing users with a more unified IT management experience, he said.

Intersight Kubernetes and Workload Optimizer

Intersight is Cisco’s family of SaaS tools for deploying, monitoring, and managing physical and virtual infrastructure and provides lifecycle management of Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers and Cisco HyperFlex hyperconverged infrastructure equipment.  

Cisco announced plans for a Kubernetes “container-as-a-service” offering, Intersight Workload Optimizer, and updates to its AppDynamics tool in January. 

Intersight Kubernetes, available in December, allows IT organizations to deploy a Kubernetes stack on premises or in the public cloud. “You can manage the lifecycle of that in an automated way,” said Todd Brannon, Cisco’s senior director of cloud infrastructure marketing.

Cisco has curated all the components necessary for enterprises to install, manage, and maintain a Kubernetes environment on premises and in the cloud, he said. That way, IT departments don’t have to piece together the open source parts themselves.

“As containers go mainstream, we are doing everything we can to simplify that for the IT team,” Brannon said.

The Intersight Workload Optimizer analyzes workloads and costs on premises and in the cloud and provides recommendations for optimizing costs, he said.

“It can say, hey, we have an instance of [AWS] EC2 that you can change the size of and save a buck or two, or that you’ve got infrastructure on-premise that you can optimize,” Brannon said.

Workload Optimizer, which was previously available as standalone software, will be available as a SaaS offering this month, he said.

About the Author(s)

Wylie Wong

Regular Contributor

Wylie Wong is a journalist and freelance writer specializing in technology, business and sports. He previously worked at CNET, Computerworld and CRN and loves covering and learning about the advances and ever-changing dynamics of the technology industry. On the sports front, Wylie is co-author of Giants: Where Have You Gone, a where-are-they-now book on former San Francisco Giants. He previously launched and wrote a Giants blog for the San Jose Mercury News, and in recent years, has enjoyed writing about the intersection of technology and sports.

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