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Automation and Application-Centric Infrastructure

If you have been following the news, I’m sure you saw that Cisco just introduced Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). Combine ACI with Cisco UCS Director and you can provision and deliver application-centric infrastructure automatically.

insieme

Over the past 11 months, I have discussed how Cisco UCS Director reduces data center complexity with unified automation and management of multi-vendor converged and integrated infrastructure systems. But the provisioning of compute, storage and network resources is just the start. IT needs to deliver infrastructure that is tailor-made for the specific applications their users need. Together with ACI, Cisco UCS Director has key capabilities to make this happen.

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UCS E-Series: A Platform for Innovation | Inside the Branch

We’re in November now, so of course it’s getting chilly outside -- even here in California! This means the holidays are right around the corner and retailers are gearing up for their busiest time of year. A growing trend these days is that more than half of holiday shoppers with smartphones plan to use these devices while shopping (53.8%, National Retail Federation). What better motivation for retailers to increase sales in all of their stores this season than by enhancing customers’ shopping experience with something like Facebook?

On the other side of town unfortunately, the holiday season goes hand-in-hand with the sniffling and coughing brought on by the winter cold and flu season. As usual, doctors will expect an influx of patients in their offices in the coming months. IT staff at hospitals need to prepare for the increased medical data traversing through the network and beyond.

Cisco UCS E-series on the ISR-AX is a consolidated solution in a single platform. With this solution, retailers can virtualize and host POS, video surveillance, and other applications.  Doctors in medical offices of any size can focus on taking care of their patients rather than worry about the network slowing them down.

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CMX Connect – An Innovative, Location Aware Guest Captive Portal

connect1With the explosion of smart mobile devices, consumers expect to have Wi-Fi access at pubic venues everywhere they go. Venue owners are under pressure to provide reliable Wi-Fi guest access in a simple and easy way. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to do that AND extract some value out of your investment in setting up the Wi-Fi network as well? Cisco Connected Mobile Experience (CMX) is an industry leading solution provides just that: an easy, customizable and location-aware way to onboard guests using CMX Connect, an ability to gain insights into guest behaviors using CMX Location Analytics and an opportunity to engage guests in meaningful ways using CMX Browser Engage.

With MSE Release 7.6 coming out later this year, we wanted to give you a closer look at new feature CMX Connect.  Read More »

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Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI): Application Network Profiles for Security and Network Services

November 7, 2013 at 4:00 am PST

Now that we’ve announced the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), everyone is trying to come up to speed quickly on this new fabric architecture and the power that this revolutionary application-centric model will bring to data center and cloud automation. One of the best insights to ACI I have seen comes in the form of a 140 char tweet from Insieme TME Joe Onisick (he also blogs at definethecloud.net) who says, “Building intelligent networks is a fool’s errand. Build a network to take orders, then teach it to do so in a business relevant language.” If you truly understand that, you’ll easily grock ACI. The rest are implementation details.

Joe Onisick tweet

What ACI has done is backed off from all the network complexity in trying to build more and more intelligence directly in the fabric. Building the network to be externally automated can centralize the intelligence and control, while simplifying the design and operations of the fabric greatly (also a goal of SDN, by the way). But what’s really new about ACI is that the programmability and orchestration of the infrastructure (how it takes the orders) is now done in a business-relevant policy language/model.

In a pre-launch post, I looked at why application policies were an ideal model to build infrastructure automation around, and how application policies are better suited to mirror business objectives and requirements than traditional IT infrastructure policies. The fact is that applications are the brains of the business and best reflect the activity and dynamic requirements of the business. Application policies are inherently business-relevant. The key benefits for customers end up being vastly greater degrees of automation, process improvement and business agility. [Note: It will be left as an exercise for the reader to prove that OpenFlow, e.g., is not a business-oriented policy language.]

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Cisco ISE in the lab.

November 6, 2013 at 7:38 pm PST

My company is in the very early stages of an MDM BYOD project.  As part of that we are looking at the Cisco Identity Service Engine (ISE) as a central piece.  I am about half way through my testing and I thought that I would pass on some of what I have learned so far.  I am far from being an ISE expert and I don’t mention profiling or the advanced features in this post. I have tried them but don’t feel knowledgeable enough to go into these details.

ISE

ISE is an excellent NAC system but it does much more than that.  One of the advantages of trying to configure a new piece of technology yourself is that you learn much more and also other ways to increase the ROI.  The main reason we are interested in ISE is as the enforcement point on our wireless network.  When a device tries to connect to our BYOD network we want ISE to query the MDM server to verify if the device is registered and if not to redirect the device to the MDM provisioning portal.  If the device is registered with MDM ISE will then query AD and verify the user credentials.  This is a core function of ISE and went fairly well. Read More »

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