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Cisco climbs aboard containerisation cloudwagon, with security reservations

Teams with Red Hat to add SDN so containerised apps can get to work faster

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Cisco has climbed aboard the containerisation cloudwagon, hinting that it will make Docker and Linux containers a part of its emerging “Intercloud”.

The Borg has slipped out a blog post in which it offers an unremarkable containers vs. virtual machines primer. But at the end is an interesting nugget, to wit: “Cisco Cloud Services is creating an Intercloud of container and micro-services in a cloud native and hybrid CI/CD [continuous integration and delivery] model across Openstack, VMware, Cisco Powered, and Public clouds. Look for availability early next year.”

Just what that is, we're not sure. But we've asked Cisco to explain.

Requiring a bit less explanation is Cisco's commitment to “application-optimized containers”, an idea it says addresses the fact that “when a new application is placed in production, a networking team needs to select the appropriate VLAN, open ports, configure load balancing, set up port security through access control lists (ACLs), and apply network policies such as QoS.”

The company also says it and Red Hat are “collaborating to automate network configuration using software-defined networking (SDN) and an application-optimized infrastructure. When a new containerized application is placed in production, the network will recognize the application requirements and automatically apply them.”

Those last quotes come from a paper (PDF) about containerisation that points out shortcomings Cisco and Red Hat hope to address together.

Among the items the pair believes need to be on containerisation's to-do list are security, as “Currently, kernel exploits at the host operating-system level affect all containers on the host.”

Another thing Cisco thinks will mature containerisation is improved management and orchestration tools, plus better ways to create, deploy and retire containers. Today, containers lack the resilience to guarantee operation when they move to a new physical host. Cisco hopes the Checkpoint/Restore in Userspace project improves to make that possible.

Intercontainer communication is also on the Borg's mind, because at present containers don't chat nicely. “Standardizing on one or a few methods for naming, discovery, and connectivity will help accelerate adoption of Linux containers.”

There's no word on when Cisco and Red Hat will bring these planned and hoped-for innovations to market. The mere fact they're contemplating them shows, yet again, the impact containerisation is making in enterprise computing. ®

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