Cisco DevOps Tools Tackle Ops’ Pain Points

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • New Cisco DevOps tools build on initial API management innovations.
  • Installing a qualified head of ET&I indicates a serious DevOps strategy.

Cisco used last week’s KubeCon as the stage to build out its DevOps portfolio, stemming from its Emerging Technology and Incubation (ET&I) business unit.  The three product announcements address customers’ ongoing digitization challenges around service mesh, security, and modern monitoring.

Cisco has been quiet on its plans for moving up the cloud stack into platforms which will be delivered through application-level networking tools targeting developers, security engineers, SREs, and DevOps teams. However, the company has installed a serious leader at the helm of ET&I, namely vice president Vijoy Pandey, former technology engineering head at both Google and IBM.  Cisco’s efforts follow similar initiatives by rivals such as VMware, which delivers its DevOps modeled services via the Tanzu platform, released a year ago.

The announcements build on API technology which the team initially set its sights on last fall, called the APIClarity OSS project. The visibility tools focus on improving observability and security and rely on service mesh innovations to analyze API traffic and combat threats.

Last week during KubeCon, Cisco rolled out an Istio platform addressing the problematic issue of how to properly establish infrastructure communications between new app architectures, namely microservices.  Service mesh is an area with which the industry continues to wrestle, both from a technological and political standpoint. Delays around the technology and Istio OSS project supporting it have opened the door for infrastructure providers such as Cisco to demonstrate their strengths in managing traffic flows via modern network and application management solutions. Branded Calisti App, Cisco can apply its networking expertise to the application layer, attempting to out-shine rivals’ more mature offerings with the end goal of providing customers with connectivity, lifecycle management, and security for microservices in multi-cloud environments.

Cisco is entering the observability space through its newest brand, Telescope App, which leverages AppDynamics’ APM technology.  The app troubleshooting tool includes search capabilities and connected insights across applications.  This effort is complemented through Panoptica App, a security app cloud service for API, serverless, and containers which spans from app development to deployment in multi-clouds.

As enterprises move more complex mission-critical apps into production, trusted infrastructure partners like Cisco pose a threat to cloud platforms rivals for Cisco’s ability to ensure enterprise-ready security hardening and reliability features as part of its DevOps portfolio.  Cisco provides its solutions as pre-integrated out of the box with existing CICD tools, including Jaeger, Kiali, and Helm charts.

While cloud services have been essential for keeping businesses running, IT solutions have not always been optimized to support the agility necessary for frictionless app deployment and operational efficiencies.  The ability to move modern apps into production is not easily achieved under current infrastructure configuration constraints.  This has resulted in delays in optimizing DevOps methodologies.  In general, thanks to newer efforts around infrastructure modernization, including the use of CICD pipelines and infrastructure-as-code (IaC) techniques, enterprises will be better armed with tools that drive automation agilities and support advanced software architectures, including event-driven microservices, serverless computing, and container orchestration.  (For more, please see “Infrastructure Modernization Unleashes the Software Supply Chain,” March 21, 2022.)

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