Cisco and Red Hat have expanded their partnership to include a new combination that lets customers more easily turn-up and manage bare-metal containerized workloads.
The companies have integrated Cisco’s cloud-operations management platform, Intersight, and Red Hat OpenShift Assisted Installer, which controls OpenShift clusters, to handle the complex and time-consuming process of networking a containerized environment.
Nearly 80% of enterprises have adopted containers in production environments, and containers are especially effective when they are migrated across different hybrid-cloud domains—on-premises data centers, colocation facilities, network edge, and public clouds, wrote Dhritiman “DD” Dasgupta, vice president of product management for Cisco’s Cloud and Compute team in a blog about the integration.
“Bare metal is growing in popularity as a computing technology to run containers for an expanding set of applications and customer use cases,” Dasgupta stated. “As such, bare metal is particularly valuable for data-intensive workloads such as AI/ML or online transaction processing (OLTP) because they can be customized to deliver performance-boosting features as high-speed interconnects, specialized memory and storage, and multiple graphics-processing units (GPUs).”
“But while there is interest in connecting these bare-metal resources, connecting to each server to configure the storage, network, and boot order, mounting and booting from your installation OS, or alternatively setting up complex provisioning networks and hosts for automation across multiple sites can be challenging and time consuming for IT organizations," Dasgupta stated.
That’s where the Intersight/OpenShift integration could come in, he wrote: “Through Intersight, customers can automate key steps in the bare-metal installation of Red Hat OpenShift using Server Profile Templates to define policies for compute BIOS settings, boot order .and network/storage configurations.”
The process can then be replicated as the customer deploys more Red Hat OpenShift clusters, he stated. "This also creates a standardized template for configuring the bare-metal server, adapters, fabric extenders, and fabric interconnects, thereby reducing the number of manual steps required for installing additional Red Hat OpenShift clusters.”
Without Cisco Intersight customers need to connect to each server individually to mount the ISO, configure the server and watch the KVM console, wrote Boris Aelen, technical marketing engineer with Cisco’s Cloud and Compute team in a blog. “Intersight comes with security-focused features that allow you to access all of your servers and VMs – safely – from one location.”
Intersight server-profiles templates and the compute, network and storage policies within allow customer to configure multiple servers simultaneously, with one click. Modifying the template will automatically update all the server profiles which are derived from this template, Aelen stated.
“The server profiles store the unique identifiers for that server, decoupling the configuration from the hardware, allowing for easy hardware replacements. The idea is to ensure all your servers have consistent configuration and firmware levels, increasing the reliability of your server farm,” Aelen stated.
Through Intersight with Red Hat OpenShift, Dasgupta said Cisco can solve several challenges customers face in deploying and managing multiple clusters including dealing with inconsistent resources, such as compute, network, storage and lack of policy and governance across infrastructure and development domains. “We also want to make it easier for Red Hat OpenShift users to find and modify resources for expansion and capacity needs in Cisco environments," Dasgupta stated.
“Also by using Intersight with Red Hat OpenShift, we can deploy innovative measures such as inventory information exchange between the two platforms to gain critical visibility and insights,” Dasgupta stated. “This enables other capabilities such as auto-discovery of new bare-metal compute available to Red Hat OpenShift in addition to other important day 2 operations tasks such as accelerated software upgrades, enhanced resource optimization, intelligent workload mobility, and security capabilities.”
The Intersight/OpenShift combination is just the latest work Cisco and Red Hat have done together over the past few years. Most recently they partnered to tie together Cisco’s UCS X-Series server family with application workloads running on Red Hat OpenShift.
Cisco has been growing support for containers for a number of years, most recently extending its Intersight support for Kubernetes. The upgrade, Intersight Kubernetes Service Attached Clusters, provides a single place for IT pros to view and manage all their Kubernetes clusters, including those running on Microsoft Azure and AWS cloud platforms, with plans to add Google Cloud support in the future.
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