Today, we are thrilled to announce the availability of Cumulus NetQ 1.3. With this release, Cumulus extends its leadership in container networking insight by integrating NetQ with Kubernetes, along with our previously supported integration with Docker Swarm.

This announcement aligns perfectly with Cumulus’ mission of driving web-scale networks for the digital age with automation and agility by implementing networking with S.O.U.L. Simple. Open. Untethered. Linux. NetQ is woven deep into that S.O.U.L. strategy, which we’ll get to later in a separate blog post. For now, there is a lot to dig into here with this Kubernetes integration with NetQ, so let’s begin.

The growth & challenges with containers

Container technology is all the rage in the CD/DevOps world. Nearly 70% of the companies queried in a Portworx 2017 container adoption survey invested financially in containers at some level in 2017, leaping from 52% in 2016. 451 Research predicts containers will grow to become a $2.7BN market by 2020. That’s 3.5 times greater than the $762 million container market in 2016, with a CAGR of 40%.

The popularity of these Linux-based containers stems from their ability to dramatically improve flexibility when running cloud-native applications on physical and virtual infrastructure. Containers bundle up the services encompassing an application and make them portable across different compute environments, for both dev/test and production use. With containers, organizations can quickly ramp application instances to match spikes in demand, as well as run all kinds of different applications in a variety of different environments.

Yet with all their benefits for speed and efficiency, they can cause major challenges to network operators. Containers are complex because they are ephemeral, and keeping track of their IP addresses can be a huge headache. Additionally, container deployments are often owned by a separate group outside of network operations, which further adds to the tracking complexity.

It is up to the network teams to track container identity to ensure they are deployed in the appropriate security zone, mapped to the correct port and getting the bandwidth they require. If there is an issue or outage, there is no easy way to find out if the issue is something to do with the container or something else in the network. Basically, Network Ops teams need intelligent systems to ensure containers are accurately connected and are fully visible.

Diane Patton explained this container networking challenge succinctly:

“It can be much more technically challenging to plan, operate and manage a network with containers than a traditional network. The containers may need to talk with each other and to the outside world, and you won’t even know IF they exist, let alone WHERE they exist! Yet, the network engineer is responsible for the containers’ connectivity and high availability, so troubleshooting your container network efficiently is imperative.”

The solution

Cumulus NetQ provides fabric wide connectivity and visibility, from the network to the container. It gives you container service insight and provides the tools network and application engineers need to design, update, manage and troubleshoot a Kubernetes container network. NetQ is the only telemetry agent that directly integrates with container orchestration systems, including Docker Swarm and market-leading Kubernetes.

With this deep insight, you can now monitor containers as they change and map their ports. The story gets even better with Cumulus’ BGP Unnumbered, because now the network fabric can dynamically learn about new containers, advertise IP addresses and redistribute these IP address throughout the network. Container troubleshooting has never been easier. What you get is a seamless plug and play container experience that enables mobility and resiliency.

Cumulus NetQ and Kubernetes

Kubernetes is an open source orchestration engine for automating deployment, scaling and management of Linux containerized applications at scale. You can cluster together groups of hosts running Linux containers, and Kubernetes helps you easily and efficiently track, monitor and manage those clusters. Kubernetes is quickly becoming the most popular container orchestration technology in the market.

In a 2017 451 Research study, it was discovered that 71% of IT enterprises were using Kubernetes. The Kubernetes project on GitHub has over 1500 contributors. Kubernetes is one of the most significant open source communities (more than 27,000+ stars on GitHub), and was the “#2 project with the most reviews” and “#1 most discussed project” as per ‘The state of the octoverse in 2017.’

In NetQ 1.3, the NetQ agent now integrates with Kubernetes APIs, capturing all information relating to the Kubernetes pods. NetQ also supports the Container Networking Interface (CNI) ecosystem, specifically the popular CNI’s of Calico or Flannel, giving you more choice in your container interfaces.

NetQ 1.3 release supports integrations with Kubernetes. The NetQ 1.3 agent interfaces with Kubernetes API server and listens to Kubernetes events. The agent monitors network identity and physical network connectivity of Kubernetes resources like Pods, Daemon sets, Service etc. NetQ 1.3 works with any CNI, including popular ones such as Calico and Flannel.

The NetQ Kubernetes integration enables network administrators to:

  • Find — Identify and locate Kubernetes pods, deployments, replica-sets and services deployed within the network using IP, name, label, etc.
  • Track — Track network connectivity of all pods of a service, deployment and replica-set.
  • Locate — Locate what pods have been deployed adjacent to a ToR.
  • Determine — Check what pod, services, replica-set, deployment etc. can be impacted by a specific ToR switch.

NetQ also helps infrastructure administrators determine how Kubernetes workloads are distributed within a network.

The NetQ analytics with time machine help network administrators view changes within a Kubernetes cluster and identify if such changes had adverse effects on the network performance (caused by noisy neighbor, etc.).

Summary

The traditional, manual operations process of the network cannot keep up with the speed of automation, and too often, web-scale initiatives come to a grinding halt. With NetQ, operation teams can now monitor and manage the network at the speed your business demands. Network architects and operators need to be able to optimize configurations without worrying about risk so the organization can continually innovate and scale.

If you’re interested in seeing NetQ in action, head to our NetQ demo GitHub sites. See how you can use NetQ to verify Docker settings or how you can use NetQ to implement “Chaos Tamarin” to ID and FIX network issue  (and there’s a video for the later!)

To try out NetQ for yourself, check out Cumulus in the Cloud. Cumulus in the Cloud is a virtual data center that includes the NetQ telemetry server for monitoring your Cumulus in the Cloud instance. Organizations can also request a trial NetQ license by contacting our sales team at sales@cumulusnetworks.com