Cisco Blogs

Cisco Blog > Data Center and Cloud

Content Routing, Traffic Steering and Load Balancing via ITD

Content routing, Traffic steering and Load-balancing technologies are crucial part of network deployments. Cisco has recently released 6.2.(10) NXOS release which has innovative features that take content routing up to next level. Intelligent Traffic Director (ITD) is taking up the challenge to make our networks more scalable, reliable and manageable, while saving significant CAPEX and OPEX for the customers. ITD started shipping in NX-OS 6.2(8). In 6.2(10) release, ITD has achieved significant milestone with the following enhancements.

Weighted load balancing
L4 port based load balancing
Sandwich mode Node-State sync between two ITD services in  a VDC
DNS probe
Start/Stop/Clear ITD statistics collection
Show ITD statistics have % traffic distribution
Node-level standby
VRF support for ITD Service and Probes
Number of ITD services scaled up : 32 ITD services per VDC
Number of VIPs scaled up : 16 VIPs per ITD service
DCNM support using DevNet
N5k/N6k support (only available for EFT/PoC via special image. Email
NAT (only available for EFT/PoC via special image. Email

Testimonials :
“Great milestone Samar, Mouli and team!!!
We are very grateful for the work you guys did with pioneering and driving this new solution!!! (It’s great) to have team come up with such needed functionality, collaborate closely with field and our engineering and TME team and bring it to market. It will definitely  help us bring our VDS-TC solution to market as ITD simplifies the debugging and configuration and we are looking forward migrate our current customers as well as expand. ITD help us scale to 1T of cache traffic in single N77K with much more manageable solution and easier to support. Looking forward for more good stuff coming from your team.. Samar, you built world class team that is really great to work with! ”

“Nice job Samar and team!  ITD is a creative solution and these are impressive additions. One of my customers is trying ITD with an earlier version of 6.2.10 and is very impressed. Especially on the collaboration with the engineering team and building a relevant solution. Looking forward to a lot of deployments.”
Read More »

Keeping Your Eyes on the Skies – A Partner’s View on SQL Server and UCS

November 6, 2014 at 6:00 am PST

A Guest Blog by Partner Rick Heiges of Scalability Experts: Rick is a SQL Server Microsoft MVP and Senior Solutions Architect.  He primarily works with Enterprise customers on their Data Platform strategies. Rick is also very involved in the SQL Server Community primarily through PASS and events such as the PASS Summit, SQL Saturdays, and 24 Hours of PASS.  His tenure on the PASS Board of Directors saw the annual Summit triple in size from 2003 to 2011.  You can find his blog at

So far, it has been another great week here at the PASS Summit 2014, SQL Server’s largest annual user and partner conference.  With yesterday’s keynote address, there is still very much a focus on getting to the cloud and new investments in cloud technology in general. Microsoft seems to be extending its data collection and storage technologies in the cloud and also on-prem.  One of the coolest features talked about was the concept of a “stretch tables” where a table that lives on your on-prem SQL Server can be “stretched” on to tables in SQL Azure Databases.  The data may be shared so that the “hot” data can stay local and the “cold” data would live in the cloud.  There were some other great demos around using the Kinect device to create a heat map of customer activity in a physical store (similar to what people linger and search for when shopping online).  You can watch the PASS Summit 2014 Keynote here on PASStv.

As a Senior Solutions Architect with Scalability Experts, I work with large enterprise customers (Fortune 500 type) on a regular basis.  There is more and more interest about leveraging the Public Cloud for some workloads and taking advantage of “on-prem” resources in a cloud-like way.  This means deploying your internal resources in a similar way – for example via Cisco’s Microsoft Fast Track certified FlexPod or VSPEX integrated infrastructure solutions --  that public cloud resources are deployed with a similar chargeback (or ‘show back’) model and automating the self-service deployment of infrastructure, and the monitoring of the entire stack.

One of the things that I really like about Microsoft’s products is a focus on ease of use, tight integration, and low TCO.  This is important to a lot of the customers that I interact with.  This is why I have seen a surge in Cisco UCS products in my customer base of the past few years.  Cisco has a similar goal to keep things simple and TCO low – read this Total Economic Impact report from Forrester on UCS ROI/TCO.  Cisco also provides Management Pack plug-ins to Microsoft’s System Center suite for tight integration so that you can manage the entire stack (Hardware, Hypervisor, Application, and even Public Cloud) with a single tool.  It is great to see how this partnership between Microsoft and Cisco can be beneficial to the customers that I work with.

Microsoft’s SQL Server 2014 also brings “In-Memory” Technology to OLTP in a cost-effective manner by not forcing a complete rewrite of the application.  In a recent Cisco UCS  on Microsoft SQL Server 2014 case study, Progressive Insurance was able to take advantage of this technology to further its strategy of its competitive advantage -- ease of use.

Eventually, I see the Public Cloud taking on a more “primary” role in the future.  Similar to the “Everything on a VM unless there is a reason not to” mantra, I see an “Everything on a Public Cloud VM unless there is a reason not to” mantra on the long-term horizon.  Until then, the Hybrid Cloud will be the default stance for many large enterprises.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Big Picture of Big Data

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is disrupting innovation models and causing market shifts. One of the most powerful IoE-driven opportunities will be the value created from big data and analytics. As IoE gains momentum and creates billions of new connections, each of those connections will be capable of producing data. The enterprises that can unlock the intelligence within that data — quickly and effectively — will hold the key to a powerful and sustainable competitive edge. Read More »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Why Implement Microsoft SQL Server on Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS)?

November 4, 2014 at 2:00 pm PST

A Guest Blog by Cisco’s Frank Cicalese:  Frank is a Technical Solutions Architect with Cisco, assisting customers with their design of SQL Server solutions on Cisco Unified Compute System. Before joining Cisco, Frank worked at Microsoft Corporation for 10 years, excelling in several positions, including as Database TSP. Frank has in-depth technical knowledge and proficiency with database design, optimization, replication, and clustering and has extensive virtualization, identity and access management and application development skills. He has established himself as an architect who can tie core infrastructure, collaboration, and application development platform solutions together in a way that drives understanding and business value for the companies he services.

Ah yes, it’s that time of year again.  It’s time for PASS Summit! I hope all of you are having a great event thus far. During my conversations with customers and peers, I am inevitably asked “Why should we implement SQL on UCS?”  In this blog I cover this very common question. First off, for those of you not familiar with Cisco UCS, please visit here when you have a moment to learn more about this great server architecture. So, why would anyone want to consider running their SQL workloads on Cisco UCS?  Read on to learn about what I consider to be the top reasons to do so…

Mitigate Risk: 

High availability is one of the most important factors for companies when it comes to considering an architecture for their database implementations.  UCS provides companies with the confidence that their database implementations will be able to recover quickly from any catastrophic datacenter event in minutes as opposed to the hours if not days that it would take to recover on a competing architecture.  UCS Manager achieves this through its implementation of Service Profiles.  Service Profiles contain the identity of a server.  The UCS servers themselves are stateless and do not acquire their personality (state) until they are associated with a Service Profile.  This stateless type of architecture allows for the re-purposing of server hardware dynamically and can be utilized for re-introducing failed hardware back in to production within five to seven minutes.

Service Profiles can provide considerable relief for SQL Server administrators when re-introducing failed servers back in to production. Service Profiles make this a snap!  Just un-associate the Service Profile from the downed server, associate it with a spare server and the workload will be back up and running in five to seven minutes.  This is true for both virtualized and bare-metal workloads!  Yes!  You read that last statement correctly!!  Regardless of the workload being virtual or bare-metal, Cisco UCS can move the workload from one server to another in five to seven minutes (providing they are truly stateless i.e., booting from SAN).

Foster Standardization:

Since every server in UCS that is serving a workload requires that a Service Profile be associated with it, Cisco UCS Manager provides the ability to create Service Profile Templates which ease the administrative effort involved with the creation of Service Profiles.  Server administrators can configure Service Profile Templates specifically for their SQL Servers and foster consistent standardization of their SQL Server implementations throughout the enterprise via these templates.  Once the templates are created, Service Profiles can be created from these templates and associated to a server in seconds.  Furthermore, these operations can be scripted via Cisco’s Open XML API and/or PowerShell integration (discussed next) simplifying the deployment process even more.

To learn more about Service Profile Templates and Service Profiles, please visit here.

Manage Workloads Efficiently: 

Cisco UCS has very tight integration with Microsoft System Center.  Via Cisco’s Operations Manager Pack, Orchestrator Integration Pack, PowerShell PowerTool and Cisco’s extensions to Microsoft’s Hyper-V switch, administrators are able to monitor, manage and maintain their SQL Server implementations proactively and efficiently on Cisco UCS.  Additionally, Cisco’s PowerTool for PowerShell, with its many cmdlets, can help to automate any phase of management with System Center thus optimizing the overall management/administration of Cisco UCS even more so.  All of this integration comes as a value-add from Cisco at no extra cost!

Please visit to learn more about, download and evaluate Cisco’s Operations Manager Pack, Orchestrator Integration Pack and PowerShell PowerTool.

Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

How Cisco uses Open Source Cloud to transform Telcos (Part 1 of 2)

Here is my first blog, which I am writing to you from Johannesburg, South Africa where I am on an assignment with a customer engagement.  Based in Dubai, I’m the part of the Cloud and IT Transformation Practice in Cisco Advanced Services, and I’d like to share some of my day-to-day consulting experience with you with respect to Telco and OpenStack.

The Customer Challenge

Telcos today are entrenched in their heterogeneous, disparate and multi-vendor operating environments. Whilst their web-scale counterparts can provision services often in minutes, a telco-grade offer sometimes takes weeks for fulfilment.

At the same time, demand is changing – present day users demand for “anywhere, any-time” data and service availability, secure, and with a satisfactory SLA. Further, they demand agile services, which provision quickly and at low cost and fully align with customer needs. For example, adding a new end point to a customer VPN should take very little provisioning time.

Not only this, but with the inception of the Internet of Everything, Telcos must invest to expand their capacity. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, the mobile data traffic alone is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 61 percent (starting from 2013 all the way to 2018), reaching 15.9 exabytes per month by 2018.


Last but not least, capacity needs are dynamic -- peak and non-peak usage of capacity differ by many factors, and idle capacity is a costly luxury. Neither the telco’s technical architecture nor the operating model and environment are ready today to meet the challenges of agile, high volume, fluctuating needs at an attractive cost.

New Telco Architectures

Especially when compared to hardware, software is a better environment to respond to these challenges: faster to adopt; more easily embodies new features; quickly reflects new customer configurations; scales up and down with more ease; and has little or no production cost. As a consequence, telcos try to move their environments as much to software as possible.

The next debatable item is the Software strategy: Commercial or OpenSource? Of course, Commercial Software comes with support and documentation and may be less susceptible to hackers due to its closed nature, while OpenSource offers a multitude of functions at little to no cost and is constantly updated and adapted.

To make Commercial Software more affordable for the Service Providers, vendors often suggest the “Pay As you Grow Model”.  Under this business model, vendors allow Service Providers to make relatively small initial investments in capacity and/or functionality. As the SP leverages software licensing to drive core initiatives, the investment in technology is  expanded incrementally if and when the business need arises.

This incremental model is often favored by businesses today as it insulates them against the downside of over-investing. For the vendor, this model promises both present and future revenue.

On the other hand, OpenSource comes with the source code which means Service Providers can have their own teams of developers and they can modify/update the contents as per the Business and Technical requirements.

Road to the OpenSource Cloud starts from Workload consolidation and then Infrastructure virtualization and then Operations Automation and then Cloud Computing and finally OpenSource Cloud so basically it’s a Journey not just a destination.

So what needs to be done here? It seems everyone is trying to move toward XaaS (everything “X” as a service) because this where cloud is popping up as the dominant way to provider infrastructure, applications and solutions – characterized by an off-premise, self-service, opex model of delivery.

But before a telco embarks itself on the path of transformation, it needs to identify its identity, i.e., what kind of services it is going to be offering. Some of the incumbent service providers are offering services such as Cloud Compute, Cloud Storage, Network enabled Cloud, Private Cloud, and VDI ….to name just  a few. What about your organization?

In my next blog, I’ll continue with our approach here at Cisco and how we are helping customers. In the meanwhile, please join us at OpenStack Summit in Paris:

The OpenStack Paris Summit started November 3. In addition to the general speaking sessions, booth, demos and other events captured here, Cisco’s team members are also leading and participating in several design sessions to shape the Kilo OpenStack release.

We look forward to having some great discussions at the Summit and hope to see you there as well! Please stop by Cisco (Booth C3) and our newest acquisition, Metacloud (Booth E37). Visit us at Cisco’s OpenStack webpage for more information.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog. Please feel free to get in touch via the comments field.


Tags: ,