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Cisco Eyes Hybrid Cloud with Intersight Updates

It’s evolving its hybrid and multi-cloud management platform to make it more compelling for companies with private data center and public cloud resources.

Managing hybrid cloud architectures that span private data centers and the public cloud is challenging. So is optimizing them for cost and performance.

In a bid to cater to customers faced with these hybrid cloud challenges, Cisco is evolving its hybrid and multi-cloud management platform, Intersight, in ways that could make it a more compelling solution for companies that need to manage private data centers and public cloud resources at the same time.

Reimaging Intersight

Cisco launched Intersight in 2017 as a tool for managing workloads spread across multiple clouds. It placed less emphasis on hybrid cloud management at the time, probably because it was not yet clear how important hybrid cloud would become.

Then, in November 2020, Cisco announced a series of new services and integrations for Intersight. The headline offering is Intersight Kubernetes, a solution for deploying Kubernetes across a hybrid environment, but the update also brought enhancements to the cost-optimization and monitoring functionality of Intersight.

Cisco seems to be casting the Intersight updates in a DevOps light by playing them up as a solution that will ultimately help bridge the gap between developers and IT Operations teams. The new Intersight platform will serve as the “bridge between applications/developers and infrastructure,” according to a blog post about the changes.

Companies that want a unified platform for managing IT operations and achieving continuous delivery across hybrid environments are an obvious target use case for Intersight. But the platform seems to have equal appeal for organizations that need a more centralized way to manage hybrid cloud environments, even if DevOps and CI/CD aren’t a core focus.

New Option for Unified Hybrid Cloud Management

That’s important because it means Intersight could appeal to companies that want a unified hybrid cloud architecture, but that don’t want to turn to cloud-specific platforms like AWS Outposts or Azure Stack to build it. The latter solutions provide a unified framework for managing workloads that span public clouds and private data centers, but their major drawback is that they are tied to specific public clouds.

Other hybrid frameworks, like Google Anthos, are less restrictive in this sense. But they are based on Kubernetes and are ideally suited for containerized application deployment, making them less appealing for more traditional workloads. Here as well, Intersight may enjoy a market opportunity by offering a unified hybrid cloud management platform that doesn’t depend on Kubernetes. Although Kubernetes is one of the services available through Intersight, it’s not the basis for the entire platform.

Upcoming Intersight Updates

The Intersight updates announced to date represent only part of the hybrid-centric functionality that Cisco plans to implement. Several additional enhancements will be announced in the coming months, according to Kostas Roungeris, Product Marketing Manager for Cloud Solutions at Cisco.

One will be more flexibility in deploying Kubernetes clusters through Intersight. The service currently works only with on-prem VMware virtual machines. But Cisco is working on support for additional types of on-prem environment, including VMs based on other hypervisors (like KVM), as well as public cloud environments.

"VMware is just one hypervisor that we're working toward,” Roungeris said.

A cloud orchestration tool for standardizing lifecycle management across multiple clouds is in the works, too. This will help teams deploy applications in a uniform way across different clouds or private data centers. In doing so, it will further enrich the CI/CD and DevOps marketing angle for Intersight.

And perhaps most interestingly, Cisco will release a virtualization service for deploying virtual machines to private data centers and public clouds. This functionality will help Intersight match the seamless cloud service deployment experience offered by platforms like Outposts and Azure Stack, while avoiding the lock-in that comes with those solutions.

Additional details about these new Intersight services will be available at Cisco Live at the end of this month, Roungeris said.

Conclusion

To date, Cisco probably hasn’t been among the first names to come to mind when you think “hybrid cloud.” But the company is clearly doubling down on its investment in this space, which means that businesses with hybrid strategies will enjoy yet another way to unify cloud operations and management within hybrid architectures.

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