the Lumpy Cloud Evolution

There are some issues with containers. The creation of containers on bare metal is not trivial, with issues around provisioning the network, communications between containers and security (all containers share the same control plane network). Typically, you have to expect delays before the bare metal is ready. OpenStack has a number of projects, such as Calico, Weaveworks and Flannel, to address some of these issues, but containerization is not yet a slam-dunk.

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In the meantime, many managers have already placed their bets on VMs running non-containerized applications on top of hypervisors. These are running very well already and, for the time being, managers have bigger fish to fry. With no two networks being alike, each will take its own journey to fully cloud-native, and heterogeneity and lumpy will be the norm for a very long time.

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To managers of cloud infrastructure, heterogeneity may sound like a headache requiring several management systems, extra training and an expanding network ops team — but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are approaches to managing cloud infrastructure that can support a heterogeneous environment including monolithic applications running in VMs, containers running in VMs and containers running on bare metal, all managed from a single management application.

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To be suitable for a heterogeneous environment, it’s critical that your virtual infrastructure management solution is open, and the VNFs are API-driven using well-defined, open interfaces with host-independent, flexible configuration and logging. Ideally, it allows you to manage your entire infrastructure, from VMs to containers, from a single pane of glass, with good analytics and monitoring tools. Your infrastructure should provide flexible hardware support and be applicable to any type of workload — from telco network core to far edge or from enterprise back office to customer-facing applications — with robustness, performance and security. Of course, it has to meet key security standards and regulations as well.

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Network operators, telco or enterprise, will each take their own journey to cloud-native. Some may never fully implement MSA and containers on bare metal servers; others may move there quickly. It is likely that this heterogeneous, “lumpy” universe will be with us for the foreseeable future. It’s a good idea to be properly prepared with a virtual infrastructure management solution that knows how to smooth out the lumps.

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