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Cisco ACI, Microsoft System Center and Azure Pack at Microsoft TechEd Europe in Barcelona

October 26, 2014 at 8:19 pm PST

For those of you attending Microsoft TechEd Europe in Barcelona, you have an opportunity to hear how Microsoft and Cisco are collaborating to create a shared, elastic resource pool of storage, compute, and networking in Microsoft’s Cloud OS.

Maurizio Portolani, Distinguished Technical Marketing Engineer, will be joining Robert Reynolds, Principal PM Lead, Windows Azure Pack, Microsoft, during the main Windows Azure Pack session Tuesday to show how an application-oriented policy delivers operational simplicity for the infrastructure team and can provide a converged stack for key Microsoft applications.


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How does RISE benefit Cisco Prime NAM?

As you may have seen in Gary Kinghorn’s blog, Cisco Prime Network Analysis Module (NAM) has been integrated with Cisco Nexus® 7000 Series Switches using Cisco® Remote Integrated Services Engine (RISE) technology providing a powerful story for data center integration. RISE with Prime NAM provides high performance monitoring and packet analysis on multiple virtual device contexts along with switch interface statistics for all modules.

Cisco RISE can be used to tightly integrate the Cisco Nexus 7000 series switches with the Cisco Prime NAM to provide VDC awareness and SPAN traffic across multiple VDCs without burning slots on the switch. RISE overcomes the limitation of applying SPAN configuration only in the VDC to which the management cable is attached by intelligently managing the movement of NAM data ports and SPAN configuration to other VDCs as needed. The integration includes the following main features:

  • NAM appliance acts as a module on Nexus switches
  • One NAM appliance can receive traffic from multiple Nexus VDCs without re-cabling
  • One NAM appliance can collect interface statistics for multiple VDCs
  • Dynamic vdc-aware SPAN configuration on Nexus switches using NAM GUI
  • Up to 4 NAM ports can be automatically assigned to Nexus VDCs using NAM GUI
  • Graph of per-interface ingress and egress statistics for multiple VDCs
  • Auto-discovery and bootstrap of NAM appliance from Nexus switch
  • Health monitoring of NAM appliance
  • Visibility to multiple VDCs from one NAM appliance with ongoing VDC configuration updates
  • Configurable timer intervals and VDC list for interface statistics collection
  • User-friendly error handling for SPAN creation/deletion/modification
  • Order of magnitude OPEX and CAPEX savings: reduction in configuration, simplified provisioning and data-path optimization


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Figure 1. RISE Physical and logical topology


Deployment Modes

Cisco RISE supports attachment to the NAM appliance in the following modes:

  • Direct Attach mode with single NAM: The appliance has a management link that is directly attached to the Nexus switch. Up to 4 data links on the NAM can be attached to one or more VDCs on the Nexus switch to send SPAN traffic (Figure 2).

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Figure 2. Direct Attach Mode with single NAM

Direct Attach modes with multiple NAMs: The appliance has a management link that is directly attached to the Nexus switch. Up to 4 data links on each NAM can be attached to one or more VDCs on the Nexus switch to send SPAN traffic (Figure 3).

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Figure 3: Direct Attach mode with multiple NAMs

Indirect Attach modes with multiple NAMs: The appliance has a management link that is attached via an L2 network to the Nexus switch. Up to 4 data links on each NAM can be attached to one or more VDCs on the Nexus switch to send SPAN traffic (Figure 4).


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Core Features

Cisco RISE with NAM provides the following key features that allow the solution to provide traffic and performance analysis across all the VDCs on the Nexus switch without changing the wiring connections.

 Dynamic VDC-aware SPAN Configuration

  • Configure SPAN sessions for up to 4 NAM dataports from NAM GUI.
  • Create, edit, delete SPAN sessions, select destination ports and source ports for the SPAN sessions.
  • SPAN sessions can be configured in other VDCs by selecting VDC and data ports from NAM GUI. Dataport will be automatically moved to required VDC.
  • The options of SPAN configuration available to N7K CLI users are available via NAM GUI using RISE.
  • Provides visibility to all VDCs from one NAM.

 Multi-VDC Interface Statistics

  • Retrieve interface statistics of all VDCs on N7K via RISE
  • Set short term and long term polling intervals for getting interface statistics
  • Set the interested list of VDCs from which statistics needs to be retrieved
  • Statistics can be viewed on per interface basis as a graph or data points

Main Benefits

  • Enhanced application availability via simplified provisioning and efficient manageability.
  • Data path optimization: ADC off-load, low latency policy engine.
  • Dynamic VDC-aware SPAN configuration: Create SPAN sessions on any VDC
  • Multi-VDC awareness: Deliver traffic and performance reports in multiple VDCs
  • Cisco RISE provides significant savings in capital expenditures (CapEx) and operating expenses (OpEx) through simplified provisioning and data-plane optimizations:
  • Dramatic OpEx savings: Reduction in configuration time and ease of deployment
  • Dramatic CapEx savings: Reduced wiring, power, and rack-space needs
  • The solution provides enhanced business resiliency and stickiness to Cisco products.

Ordering Information

Cisco RISE is supported in Cisco NX-OS Software Release 7.1(0) and requires the Enhanced Layer 2 Package license. Please contact if you are interest in an EFT.


RISE with Prime NAM White Paper


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IEEE International Conference on Big Data 2014

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My Favorite Demo at Microsoft TechEd Europe: Data Center Modernization


MSFT_Europe_Web_Banner_700x230 FINAL

After the SQL Saturday event this week I will be staying in Barcelona for a few more days to attend the Microsoft TechEd Europe from Tuesday Oct 28th to Friday Oct 31st! As Gary Serda laid out in his blog, Cisco has a lot of great demos to share with you. See details:

  • Cisco UCS and Integrated Infrastructures for Microsoft Private Cloud
  • Windows Server 2003 Migration to Windows Server 2012 R2 and Cisco UCS
  • UCS Management with Microsoft System Center
  • UCS for Microsoft SQL Server
  • Nexus 1000V Network Virtualization with Microsoft Hyper-V

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, “Cisco is Here to Help!—Microsoft Windows Server 2003 End-of-Life Support,”  Windows Server 2003 (WS2003) Migration to Windows Server 2012 R2 on Cisco UCS is, as we like to say the social media world, trending.  I am really excited about the demo covering this topic because it brings together all the value props of Microsoft and Cisco working together to help customers solve one of their most important data center challenges.

In that blog, I touched on what Cisco and Microsoft are saying, but what are our customers saying?

Head of ICT management and maintenance, Elektroprivreda, Haris Brkanic mentioned in the case study that moving to Windows Server 2012, they were able to migrate from 42 physical servers and 90 virtual servers on seven hosts to just 12 Cisco UCS servers.  They are realized significant cost saving and performance gains in this upgrade. They also love that they can manage everything from a single pane of glass. Our customer definitely experienced the simplified IT, better virtualization, and licensing and support benefits they were hoping to get.

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Cisco UCS and Major League Baseball @The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

For baseball fans like me -- especially if your favorite team made the playoffs – the October postseason is  the most wonderful time of the year (with apologies to Christmas). For the Major League Baseball teams that have made it this far, months of preparation has led up to this point, and now the eyes of the sporting world are upon them. The same scenario exists for Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) CTO Joe Inzerillo and his staff, which is responsible for streaming hundreds of thousands of hours of online video throughout the year, although the October playoff races make this the busiest and most critical time of the year for them.

MLBAM Data Center - NYC

If you’ve never heard of MLBAM, chances are you’ve watched their video content at one time or another – in fact, if you’re watching live video on the internet, there’s a good chance MLBAM is involved. MLBAM streams more live video than any other sports entity – and any other company. And not just baseball – MLBAM also develops and delivers digital content and applications for sports-oriented companies like ESPN, WWE wrestling and 120 Sports, a new online sports network from Sports Illustrated.

The MLBAM business continues to grow in leaps and bounds on an annual basis. When MLBAM began streaming baseball video online in 2002, it was only on the PC, but since that time, demand has expanded to the point that fans can now watch on more than 400 devices, making MLB.TV the number one sports streaming service in the world. At the same time, MLBAM’s At Bat mobile app is the highest-grossing sports app ever, helping generate over $800 million annually in revenue (as others have estimated).

Additionally, MLBAM’s Chelsea Market headquarters in New York City is the location of their Transmission Operations Center, which brings in and sends out the video and audio feeds from the games being played around the country. This location is also where instant replay calls are reviewed by a staff of MLB umpires, on a rotation that includes their normal duties on baseball diamonds around the country at major league parks.

Joe Inzerillo @MLBAM HQ

The MLBAM success story is one that has prompted Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig to say about MLBAM, “I think it’s not only one of the great stories in American sports business in the past 12 years, but one of the great stories in American business.” Others have called MLBAM New York’s top tech startup of the past decade.

At the heart of all of this is MLBAM’s six data centers around the country, which are powered by Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS). Cisco UCS converges virtualization, network access, storage access and computing power into a centralized architecture for data centers. With all the data being generated – 15 petabytes this year and possibly up to 25 petabytes next year, according to Inzerillo – MLBAM requires the highest performing data centers available to accommodate this growing demand.

MLBAM’s ability to provide video as a service to other companies as a provider is an example of how Cisco is helping 33,000 other businesses transform their own operations. MLBAM is a perfect example of this business transformation, going from streaming 19,000 hours of live video in 2009 to 400,000 in 2014.

During a recent press event in the MLBAM headquarters in New York, Inzerillo stated, “UCS has been one of the most important aspects for us in terms of vast simplification and eliminating friction to increase our operation velocity. Automation, and software driven infrastructure are replacing manual labor for us and that’s the only way to achieve the scale and velocity we require. In that regard, UCS has become a critical part of how we do business.”

MLB Replay Room

Inzerillo added, “over the past three years we’ve increasingly began to deploy applications in a virtualized environment and UCS has been instrumental to that transition; 400,000 hours of streaming are streamed off of Cisco UCS servers today.”

“We’re definitely two to three times more efficient when it comes to building data centers with UCS,” Inzerillo told a group of Canadian reporters at a similar event in Toronto, adding he likes the “elasticity” of UCS. UCS cuts provisioning times (by 84 per cent), cabling (77 per cent), management costs (61 per cent) and power and cooling costs (54 per cent).

It’s clear more exciting times and growth is on the horizon for the MLBAM team, but unlike the baseball season, the momentum doesn’t stop after the last October pitch is thrown.