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Simple. Fast. Open. Cisco ACI shakes up SDN.

sfo v3

If you come to Cisco’s corporate headquarters, chances are good that (especially if you’re traveling internationally) you will fly into SFO, which is the airport code for San Francisco International Airport. This point has virtually nothing to do with the rest of what you’re about to read…other than the fact that those same 3 letters – SFO – are representative of 3 key takeaways from an outstanding Infoworld product review on Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). When you think about ACI, think about SFO:

Simple. Fast. Open.

I won’t spend much space on this, as I’d much rather you go and read Paul Venezia’s comprehensive and detailed look at ACI. But I do want to highlight a few brief comments on how ACI is Simple, Fast and Open.


“Implementing ACI is surprisingly simple, even in the case of large-scale buildouts.”


“Assuming the cabling is complete, the entire process of standing up an ACI fabric might take only a few minutes from start to finish.”


“Not only is ACI an extremely open architecture…”

“Cisco is actively supporting a community gathering around ACI, and the community is already reaping the rewards of Cisco’s open stance.”

“This is only one example of ACI’s openness and easy scriptability. The upshot is it will be straightforward to integrate ACI into custom automation and management solutions, such as centralized admin tools and self-service portals.”

“This should be made abundantly clear: This isn’t an API bolted onto the supplied administration tools, or running alongside the solution. The API is the administration tool.”

Simple. Fast. Open.

Whether you’re traveling to Northern California or not, if you’re considering a better way to do networking, think about SFO and ACI.

Photo courtesy of

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Project Contiv – Infrastructure Operational Policy Specification for Containerized Application Deployment

One of the biggest disruptions in the IT world is upon us.  10 years ago it was server virtualization, more recently the adoption of cloud – both private and public.  One could argue that cloud adoption is still ongoing. But I think a more fundamental disruption is happening with the way applications are going to be built, deployed and operated in the future.

By now, almost everyone is familiar with the industry buzzwords such as containers/Docker, microservices and DevOps, etc.  We are in some ways skeptical of these buzzwords as we have seen many fizzle over longer term. But, these technologies/architectures enable the enterprise to build cloud-native applications and run them at scale. They will help organizations make the most of public and private cloud deployment and will result in cloud adoption increasing exponentially.

Many still believe that the primary benefits of containers come from the technology optimizations that they bring when compared to Virtual Machines (VMs). For instance, the significant scale increase (more than 10x per host density), smaller footprint (memory, CPU, hard disk) or the faster creation and destroy cycle (milliseconds vs. minutes). But while these things are indeed very relevant, the real benefits are broader than just infrastructure advantages. The two main benefits are, first how the container technology is ideally suited to enable newer ways to develop applications (continuous integration and development) and secondly how you can scale applications (through microservices architecture) and port them between different infrastructure environments (public or private).

Microservices architectures are transforming the way applications are architected and built.  I can remember the days when I could never wait for our IT to role out an update to my favorite application because the timelines were always in multiple months if not years.   Hopefully, those days are going to be a thing of the past with the current ability to construct applications in a more easily developable/updatable/scalable microservices framework.

Although there are numerous projects and tools available in the market place in order for IT to set up the infrastructure, there is still need for admins to be able to specify the infrastructure operational policies around network, storage, security, compute for the containerized applications in an automated way and have those policies be implemented across infrastructure consistently. If no such mechanism exists, we could have resource contention between production and development applications or security violations between different applications/tenants and overall unpredictable application performance.   We believe there has to be better way for containerized applications to run in a shared infrastructure.

Introducing Project Contiv

Project Contiv is an open source project defining infrastructure operational policies for container-based application deployment.  Application intent, such as docker compose, allows for declarative specification for an application’s microsevices composition. Project Contiv compliments application intent with the ability to specifyinfrastructure operational policies for network, storage and compute elements of the physical and virtual infrastructure by directly mapping the application intent, with the infrastructure policy required.

Project Contiv Architecture

Project Contiv Architecture

So what are some of the infrastructure operational policies that most IT organization expects to specify for containerized applications?

  • Security policies for applications for inbound/outbound as well as within application tiers
  • Network services policies- integration of L4-L7 services (Load balancers, firewall, encryption, etc.)
  • Analytics and diagnostics policies
  • Physical infrastructure policies around bandwidth limit/guarantee per container, latency requirements, etc.
  • IP allocation management  (IPAM) policies
  • Storage policies around persistence storage, volume allocation, snapshotting etc.
  • Compute policies around performance requirements/off-load (to NIC or Network) and SLA etc.
  • Corporate and government compliance policies

So with Project Contiv, we hope to help you optimize and achieve saner shared infrastructure for your various containerized applications.

We believe the best way to go about achieving this objective is to build a community of similar minded people to join the Project Contiv and contribute at to enable enterprise grade applications to be adopted more rapidly.

Currently there are two projects that enable networking and storage for docker based container deployment.

Contiv Networking is a container network plugin to provide infrastructure and security policies for a multi-tenant microservices deployment, while providing integration to physical network for communicating with non-container workload. Contiv Networking implements the remote driver and IPAM APIs available in Docker 1.9 onwards. For more information, visit

Contiv Volume plugin is a docker volume plugin that provides multi-tenant, persistent, distributed storage with intent based consumption using ceph underneath. For more information, visit

We got a very encouraging start to our introduction talk by Vipin Jain (@jainvipin_), core developer of Project Contiv at Docker Meetup in Palo Alto last month with 250 registered attendees (with about 100 on waitlist). If you are visiting DockerCon Europe 2015 at Barcelona next week, make sure you visit Project Contiv booth for a demo and connect with us in person. We are looking forward to your contributions in the container community and Project Contiv github.

Project Contiv at Docker Palo Alto Meetup

Project Contiv at Docker Palo Alto Meetup

I also encourage you to visit Cisco’s open source project Mantl around microservices infrastructure.   Project Contiv will soon be part of the Project Mantl to bring better infrastructure for your microservices applications.

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Cisco UCS Delivers First-ever 100-terabyte and Best 3-TB and 30-TB Big Data Benchmark Results on the TPCx-HS Benchmark

Cisco UCS® Integrated Infrastructure for Big Data delivered industry’s first-ever 100-terabyte (TB) and best 3-TB and 30-TB results on the TPC Express Benchmark HS (TPCx-HS).

These results demonstrate Cisco’s leadership with best performance at the scale factors of 3 and 30 TB, and Cisco is the first vendor to publish results for a scale factor of 100 TB. The results are made possible with Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Big Data, an industry-leading platform widely adopted across industry vertical markets that provides a fast and simple way to deploy big data environments.

These world-record results were achieved using Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Big Data powered by Cisco UCS C240 M4 Rack Servers interconnected using two Cisco UCS 6296 96-Port Fabric Interconnects with embedded management using Cisco UCS Manager and a Cisco Nexus® 9372PX Switch. Check out the Performance Brief and UCS Industry Benchmarks Summary for additional information on the benchmark configuration. The detailed official benchmark disclosure report is available at the TPC Website.

TPCx-HS Benchmark Results with Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Big Data Summary:

Scale Number of Cisco UCS C240 M4 Rack Servers Performance and Price/Performance Availability Date
3 TB1 16 11.76 HSph@3TB


September 24, 2015
30 TB2 32 23.42 HSph@30TB


October 26, 2015
100 TB3 32 21.99 HSph@100TB


October 26, 2015


The industry and technology landscapes have changed. IT is being extended far beyond traditional transaction processing and data warehousing to big data and analytics. Foreseeing the industry transition the TPC has developed TPC Express Benchmark HS (TPCx-HS) – industry’s first (and so far the only) standard for benchmarking big data systems to provide the industry with verifiable performance, price-performance and availability metrics of hardware and software systems dealing with Big Data. TPCx-HS provides an objective measure of hardware, operating system, and commercial software distributions compatible with the Apache Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) API. This benchmark can be used to asses a broad range of system topologies and implementation of Hadoop systems in a technically rigorous and directly comparable, in a vendor-neutral manner.

Although all vendors have access to same Intel processors, only Cisco UCS unleashes their power to deliver high performance to applications through the power of unification. The unique, fabric-centric architecture of Cisco UCS integrates the Intel Xeon processors into a system with a better balance of resources that brings processor power to life. For additional information on Cisco UCS and Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure Solutions please visit Cisco Unified Computing & Servers web page.


The Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC) is a nonprofit corporation founded to define transaction processing and database benchmarks, and to disseminate objective and verifiable performance data to the industry. TPC membership includes major hardware and software companies. The performance results described in this document are derived from detailed benchmark results available as of October 23, 2015, at http:// results.asp

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5 ways to make the most of SAP TechEd Barcelona

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Looking for the most exciting experience at SAP TechEd Barcelona? We have just the ticket. Here are our 5 best tips for meeting smart people, checking out innovative solutions, and making this the most productive conference of the year.

1: Find a Home Base

With an adventure as sprawling as SAP TechEd Barcelona, everyone needs a home base. Cisco Booth 7.07 makes for a great starting point not just for exploring all the happenings of SAP TechEd Barcelona, but also for meeting the like-minded people who might be a key part in your next world-changing solution.

2: Get On Track

Our live Connected Train Demo is a great way to kick off your adventure. You’ll get a hands-on demonstration of how the Internet of Things is being used to power real-world logistics. IoT-train Bremen2 copy 2

Then, you can get your brain firing on all cylinders with visits to our three Demo Areas showing Cisco’s latest and greatest on Integrated Infrastructure, Big Data, and Internet of Things Solutions.

3: Network, Learn, Network

The Cisco Booth will offer a ton of opportunities to meet some very smart people and get a peek into the exciting work happening at Cisco. Make sure to check out our Lecture Sessions to hear the latest.

At our Breakout Sessions, you can take a deep dive into our Big Data and Cisco ACI solutions.

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If you want to skip the crowds, join our Webinar on Digitize Faster with Policy-Driven Automation , hosted by SAPinsider and sponsored by Cisco and SAP: [Register]

4: Win Something Awesome

There’s no reason to walk away from the conference empty handed. Stock up on swag from all the different vendors, but keep an eye on the Cisco Booth, where there are two great ways to win something big.

First, everyone who stops by will receive a raffle ticket for prizes including an Apple Watch and an Intel Compute Stick. Come back to the booth at 5 pm when we announce the winners. Two winners a day, must be present to win.

Second, ask about our easy-to-enter Twitter contest. You could win an AMEX gift card.

5: Get All The Latest Updates

@ReeshaDedhia @LeenieMurph will be live tweeting the event, so follow them to stay in the know.
To learn more about everything Cisco has to offer at SAP TechEd Barcelona, visit


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ACI, the SDN Purpose-Built for Data Center Operations and Automation

ACI, the SDN Purpose-Built for Data Center Operations and Automation

A couple of years ago we talked about our SDN vision and strategy, and a little over a year ago we started shipping the ACI solution. Since then over 1,000 customers have embraced ACI, and of those 150+ customers now have live production traffic running on ACI, with more coming on board at a steady pace. In this blog I want to give you a sense of ACI’s value to our customers who use it every day.

Looking back, when we started working on ACI, the industry had multiple definitions of SDN. Some confused it with APIs driving networking while other thought it’s related to software overlays. Our goal was clear – “automating the network and eliminating the gaps between application owners requirements vs. networking constructs.” This led us to architect the ACI from the ground up to meet these needs.

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