Ken Owens, Cisco: Microservices Frameworks for Handling Complexity at Scale

18 Jan 2016 11:27am, by

This podcast is the fourth in a series of interviews that we conducted while assembling our second eBook on the container ecosystem, “Applications & Microservices with Docker and Containers,” out January 20.

Ken Owens
Ken Owens is chief technical officer of Cloud Infrastructure Services (CIS) at Cisco Systems, helping to create strategy for CIS business. He has over 20 years experience in architecture, analysis, design, research, and implementation of cloud computing infrastructures.

Containers and microservices “has allowed the developer and the infrastructure teams to work closer together to create a joint solution that runs in their internal development environments, and runs in the test and QA and production environments in the same manner that developers test it against,” explained Ken Owens, the chief technical officer of Cisco’s Cloud Infrastructure Services (CIS), in an interview for The New Stack.

In the interview, Owens  described the role of microservices in developer and operations teams, and the practices emerging around scheduling and service discovery.

“This is a journey that enterprises have been on for some time,” said Owens. “Today there are a lot of complex systems and very complicated processes around these systems, and those systems were designed over many years and over lot of different use cases and design requirements.”

Owens also discusses realizing this potential by using Mantl, the goal of which is to provide a fully functional, instrumented, and portable container-based PaaS that serves teams working with both enterprise and small-scale applications.

This podcast is also available on YouTube.

“In the last several years IT has tried to simplify those complex solutions by automating the infrastructure,” he continued. “What automating the infrastructure has done is made it faster to get environments set up for testing and development to happen, but it’s still separate from production environments.”

As Owens explained, developers are still faced with issues of how to connect these disparate systems together, and of how to deal with policy around security and governance.

“Automating infrastructure has helped infrastructure deliverers but it hasn’t really helped the developers at all. What microservices has done is take those complex designs and said, ‘let’s create components of this system — let’s create an [open source software] container; let’s create a BSS container; let’s create a test, dev and production environment that allows these containers to be deployed across these different environments in the same manner.'”

Owens pointed out another advantage to microservices and containers: “Around 90 percent of enterprise applications have been virtualized,” he said, “so, for the other percentage they’re trying to get to that aren’t virtualized, containers can give them a way forward.”

“There is overhead when you virtualize,” he explained. “That virtualization layer is just another layer of complexity to manage. The nice thing about containers is that they run on bare metal. You don’t have to have a virtualization environment to run containers.”

“For a lot of those enterprises that didn’t want to deal with the tax of virtualization, that didn’t want to deal with the headache of virtualization, and didn’t have the IT staff that wanted to deal with virtualization, this gives them a way forward — now, because they don’t have to deal with the virtualization piece — they can just go straight to containers and run it on top of their infrastructure the way it is.”

Cisco is a sponsor of The New Stack.

Feature image by  Matthew Wiebe via Unsplash.

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