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Kubernetes Stars in Cisco SD-WAN, VMware Desktop Hypervisor

Kubernetes, one of the most popular open source projects ever, continues to shine in a software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) offering from Cisco and new desktop hypervisor products from VMware.

Just today (Aug. 21), Cisco unveiled the Cloud-Native SD-WAN (CN-WAN) project to improve integration between Kubernetes-hosted applications and SD-WAN solutions. Much as Kubernetes has evolved as a star in the container world -- becoming the de-facto standard for container orchestration -- SD-WANs have emerged as the most popular segment of the software-defined networking (SDN) space.

Noting enterprise movement of modern applications to cloud-native architectures, Cisco announced its CN-WAN during this week's KubeCon Europe 2020 event, held in conjunction with the CloudNativeCon event, further demonstrating the strength of the growing cloud-native push. Wikipedia defines cloud native computing as "an approach in software development that utilizes cloud computing to 'build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds.'"

Better Kubernetes/SD-WAN integration is needed, Cisco said, because enterprise NetOps teams often manage SD-WANs to work with Kubernetes-hosted applications with little coordination with DevOps teams that handle Kubernetes infrastructure.

"Fortunately, modern SD-WAN solutions often have APIs that allow them to programmatically influence how their traffic is handled over the WAN," Cisco said. "This enables interesting and valuable opportunities for automation and application optimization. We believe there is an opportunity to pair the declarative nature of Kubernetes with the programmable nature of modern SD-WAN solutions. This allows us to not only to improve connectivity towards the Kubernetes cluster, but also to simplify and automate the consumption of SD-WAN capabilities by Cloud-Native applications."

Cisco's CN-WAN
[Click on image for larger view.] Cisco's CN-WAN (source: Cisco).

This is done via the following components of the CN-WAN, used to automate the process of optimizing a SD-WAN for externally exposed microservices:

  • Kubernetes Operator: This runs in the Kubernetes cluster, actively monitoring the deployed services
  • Reader: This operates on the SD-WAN side, connecting to the Service Registry to learn about how Kubernetes is exposing the services and the associated WAN metadata extracted by the CN-WAN operator
  • Adaptor: This maps the service-associated metadata into the detailed SD-WAN policies programmed by the NetOps in the SD-WAN controller, while also operating on the SD-WAN side

Development of the CN-WAN project, which Cisco plans to integrate with its SD-WAN Cloud Hub solution, is done on GitHub.

Just a day before Cisco's announcement, virtualization kingpin VMware announced new releases of its desktop hypervisor solutions, Fusion 12 and Workstation 16.

The company highlighted the new ability of developers to deploy Kubernetes clusters with the "vctl" tool -- a container engine command-line interface (CLI) -- which was announced earlier this year as a means to run Open Container Initiative (OCI) containers using the Fusion hypervisor. The vctl tool now supports another kind of tool, actually called "kind," for creating developer-defined local clusters using containers as "nodes," Cisco said.

"The aim is to provide developers a reliable setup for establishing a rapid 'inner loop' pipeline of development to build modern applications, or even when working on the codebase of Kubernetes itself," Cisco said in a blog post.

In a companion news release, the company said, "Containers built with vctl can be tested on local Kubernetes clusters to validate pipeline workflows before pushing them upstream to a central registry such as Harbor. In turn, the containers can be implemented on larger VMware Cloud Foundation 4 with Tanzu production clusters in a service delivery pipeline."

Other new VMware Fusion and Workstation features include:

  • DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.1: Running games and apps support with Direct3D version 11 or OpenGL 4.1
  • Windows 10 Hyper-V Mode: VMware Workstation products support running VMs, containers and Kubernetes clusters on PCs with Windows 10 version 2004 that have Hyper-V mode enabled
  • Dark Mode: For Workstation Pro and Player UIs, a new Dark Mode feature will align with the latest versions of Windows 10, including the recently released 2004 build
  • eGPU Compatibility: Fusion Player and Pro will support eGPU devices, helping offload the resource-taxing graphics rendering process from the internal integrated or discrete GPU, to a much more powerful external one
  • Improved Accessibility: Accessibility controls in compliance with VPAT Section 508, helping users get the full benefits of virtual machines

Fusion 12 and Workstation 16 will be available in VMware's fiscal third quarter, which ends Oc. 30.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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