Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Friday, November 17, 2017
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Software Defined Container Orchestration Accelerates Deployment of Large Docker Container Clusters 

Containers have exploded through the bulkheads of market acceptance that most new technologies must slog through, crossing the chasm in only three years and transforming the way applications are deployed in data centers and in the cloud. The vast majority of major corporations around the world have either implemented, or at least tested, containers.

As deployments evolve in complexity from stand-alone to clusters of hundreds or thousands of containers, with it comes major application management challenges. In response, “container orchestration” solutions have been developed designed to manage, optimize, scale, secure and ensure that containers work in concert according to pre-set rules.

But software orchestration implementation can be complex in itself, a process that can take months and require expertise across the gamut of container orchestration functions: load balancing (properly distributing workloads across the cluster), performance monitoring (ensuring containers are operating optimally), service discovery (knowing where the various functional areas of the application are located across the cluster landscape) and micro-service segmentation (making sure containers only talk with other containers they are allowed to, for security purposes). Simplifying and accelerating container orchestration in support of microservices applications at scale using Docker containers is the idea behind today’s announcement of an integrated solution from Avi Networks and Mesosphere.

The Avi Vantage Platform works with the Mesosphere Datacenter Operating System (DCOS) and Docker containers to provide a service fabric for micro-segmentation security, service discovery, graphical application maps, load balancing, and autoscaling capabilities deployed across thousands of DCOS nodes.

Andrew Lerner, Research Director at industry watcher Gartner Group, told EnterpriseTech that Avi Networks competes in what Gartner calls the Application Delivery Controllers (ADC) market, composed of traditional infrastructure vendors like F5, Citrix, Radware and A10.

“There is an emergence of app-centric buyers (often led by moves towards DevOps cultures or micro-services architectures),” Lerner said. “These folks eschew traditional players for the likes of lighter-weight and lower cost software like Amazon ELB and open-source. There is a significant gap in between the traditional players and the lighter-weight offerings. Avi is hoping to gain adoption/share in the market by fitting into that gap. This new announcement ties in with the needs of app-centric personnel looking to integrate ADC and load-balancing software into their private clouds and container infrastructures.”

Avi Network's Amit Pandey

Avi Network's Amit Pandey

Amit Pandey, Avi Networks' CEO, told EnterpriseTech the integration with Mesosphere addresses some of the most difficult problems in the container world.

“As your load goes up on the application, how do you add more containers easily, how do you direct traffic to those containers, how do you know where to send the traffic, how do you segment the containers so hackers can’t break in?”

A typical application for the Avi Vantage Platform would be a large-scale ecommerce cloud-based platform in which multiple microservices handle a wide range of tasks, such as answering consumers’ product, pricing and shipping update requests, calculating total charges (price, tax, shipping) and delivering information about complementary products or services the consumer may be interested in – all in real time. Because most retailers have widely fluctuating contact volume, depending on the time of year, these container clusters must be load balanced and scaled – both up and down – dynamically.

“There are a lot of little pieces of (container orchestration) software out there,” Pandy said, “and customers are hiring huge consulting firms to figure out how to put it all together. We’re announcing a one-click, production-ready cluster capability providing all the services required to run container clusters without any intrusiveness.”

Pandey said the Avi / Mesosphere offering includes:

  • Integration of the Avi Vantage Platform with the Mesosphere DCOS for automated, policy-driven deployments of apps and services
  • Security services including micro-segmentation, DDoS protection, SSL, and web application security
  • Software load balancer with support for east-west traffic and automated configuration updates
  • Visibility to inter-service relationships with graphical application maps and application performance analytics
  • Predictive auto-scaling of applications based on real time performance metrics

“Applications running on truly evolved infrastructures require a solution for service discovery, security, and load balancing,” said Josh Bernstein, vice president, technology at EMC Corporation. “Avi Networks is solving this critical need for application development teams with a software defined system that delivers these services elastically while ensuring they are centrally controlled and monitored.”

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