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Cisco, AWS team up for Kubernetes hybrid cloud deployments

Kubernetes users pick up another option for container orchestration in hybrid deployments in the form of a product bundle from Cisco and AWS.

IT shops gain another option for hybrid cloud management for Kubernetes workloads, with a hardware, software and services bundle from Cisco and AWS.

The Cisco Hybrid Solution for Kubernetes on AWS gives customers the ability to run Kubernetes for test, development and production workloads either on premises or in the public cloud, with a consistent environment throughout the application lifecycle, both companies said. The move follows a similar partnership between Cisco and Google in February 2018.

While AWS and its peers provide massive scalability and other benefits, factors such as data residency and security concerns may require an on-premises Kubernetes deployment for production. Customers may also want to back up production Kubernetes environments with the type of supporting software for security, networking and load balancing that companies like Cisco offer.

The main element of the service ties together Cisco Container Platform, which is based on Kubernetes, and AWS' Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes. Users get a management console to provision Kubernetes clusters either on premises or on AWS. Cisco's HyperFlex hyper-converged infrastructure provides the on-premises compute, storage and networking foundation. AWS Identity and Access Management authenticates across on-premises and cloud environments, while AWS' container registry serves as the container image repository. Cisco's VPN provides connectivity between deployment models, and Cisco is the single point of contact for support on every element of the product.

Customers can buy all of Cisco hardware and software components as a bundle, or a la carte --almost. Cisco requires users to purchase its Container Platform. AWS components are paid for through a buyer's AWS account.

The new Cisco-AWS product bundle will be generally available in December. Cisco software components can be licensed via subscription in one-, three-, or five-year increments. Pricing for a software-only purchase starts at $65,000 per year for an entry-level setup.

Cisco, AWS say hi to hybrid

Hybrid cloud deployments are gaining traction with enterprises as they weigh public cloud use versus data lock-in and cost issues. A hybrid approach also is Cisco's best shot to capture more cloud-related revenue, since it gave up on competing with AWS, Google and Microsoft Azure in the public cloud arena.

Cisco also recognizes that it can't work with just one of those companies, both from the perspective of its own bottom line and what buyers need. "The majority of our customers work with multiple clouds," said Kip Compton, SVP of cloud platform and solutions at Cisco. "Our strategy needs to be to work with multiple clouds."

The biggest risk [with any container project] is that customers don't invest in planning for production-level management, orchestration and security.
Stephen Elliotanalyst, IDC

Companies want to move to a hybrid model for Kubernetes but desire a cohesive single-environment experience, said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research.

"The industry really over-rotated on public cloud for a while," he said. "People started to realize that not everything is optimized for public cloud."

The industry is awash with news about new partnerships around containers and Kubernetes, but this Cisco-AWS combination stands out given how many products it involves, such as AppDynamics for application performance management, said Stephen Elliot, an analyst at IDC.

The test will be how well all the moving parts work in real-world deployments, and stack up cost-wise to other options: Red Hat's integration of its OpenShift Container Platform with AWS, Microsoft's hybrid Kubernetes deployments through Azure and Azure Stack, and of course Cisco's hybrid offering with Google, which became generally available in September.

Still, there is truth in any combination of technology for containers. "The biggest risk is that customers don't invest in planning for production-level management, orchestration and security," Elliot said. "These risks never disappear. Plan for production from the start."

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