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Spotlight on Nexus 1000V: Great Podcast and Learning Lab for Your Enjoyment

June 24, 2011 at 11:54 am PST

Today, I wanted to point out a couple of great resources to develop a deeper understanding of Cisco’s virtual switch, the Nexus 1000V.

First, we were excited to have Prashant Gandhi, our Sr. Director of Product Management for the Nexus 1000V, be invited onto the latest Packet Pushers Podcast, hosted by Greg Ferro. If you aren’t yet familiar with the PP Podcasts, they are an entertaining technical dive into a wide range of networking concepts with guests from vendors as well as large IT organizations. Greg’s expertise lies in the data center and with all things networking, including virtualization and L4-7 application services. In this podcast, all about the Nexus 1000V, Greg, Prashant and the other co-hosts talk about the architecture and deployment issues. There’s an extensive comparison of Cisco’s 802.1Qbh virtual Ethernet bridge protocol with the 802.1Qbg proposal from HP, VEPA.  Listen to the full podcast here.

Greg had made an earlier plea on his blog that he wasn’t getting enough Cisco guests. We were happy to help out and enjoyed the interaction. We talked about having Prashant back on a future show to talk about vPath and the Virtual Security Gateway (VSG), the virtual firewall running on the Nexus 1000V. We look forward to that as well.

For a deeper, hand-on dive into the Nexus 1000V, nothing beats the Cisco CloudLab (http://cloudlab.cisco.com). We’ve set up an online workbench configured with all the tools and software to play around with the virtual switch yourself. Cisco Cloudlab is available to folks outside Cisco, but you will have enter the name of a Cisco employee sponsor to approve access. There are a number of lab exercises you can walk through to get a general overview, install or upgrade the Nexus 1000V, as well as VSG.

Cisco Cloud Lab

Of course, if you are really ready to test it out on your own, you can always download a trial version for your own system at the Nexus 1000V page (http://www.cisco.com/go/nexus1000v).

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There’s no 1-tier network… Do you have a problem with that?

I’m not a car person and I don’t worry too much about what’s under the hood. That means that I’m just a car user, I only want to turn the ignition key and drive. In the Data Center world, the server team is typically a user of the network. Server guys don’t want to know how the network is implemented. They just want their VLANs to extend to the whole network so that they can connect their devices with no constraint, without having to worry about high availability, risk containment, link provisioning… network stuff. That’s precisely what FabricPath is designed to offer them: a network that looks like a single switch, the simplest networking entity. This “Fabric” offers efficient any-to-any connectivity with high bandwidth and low latency, all without having to understand how it works.

User view, a single switch

Figure 1

Of course, this user perspective is an abstraction. The following Figure 2 represents an example of the physical topology of the network, a Clos fabric, typical in Data Center environments. Note that this could just as well be a ring, a star, or even a network distributed across two sites. FabricPath turns an arbitrary topology into a Fabric and does not lock you into a particular model.

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Virtualizating Microsoft SQL on Cisco UCS, The Usual Suspects of why people don’t virtualize SQL Server

Virtualizating Microsoft SQL on Cisco UCS,  The Usual Suspects of why people don’t virtualize SQL Server

 

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UNS Spotlight on Cisco OverDrive, a Hypervisor for the Network

June 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm PST

This week’s focus on Cisco’s Unified Network Services (UNS) portfolio looks at cloud orchestration and the concept of a Network Hypervisor. What is a “Network Hypervisor”?

In the same way that a traditional hypervisor can offer up a modular, replicable set of virtual server resources (including OS, CPU slice, network interfaces), a network hypervisor is a modular abstraction of reusable network services to assemble a flexible data center or cloud infrastructure. Sounds interesting so far, but what does the network hypervisor actually do?

The first function is to allow organizations to pre-define and replicate the modular network containers that abstract a rigid underlying network infrastructure from the needs of individual applications and services. An example of a network container might be defined to include individual components such as logical VM ports, load balancer and firewall. This logical network environment can be assigned and isolated to a particular tenant to provide the network services a particular application needs and where the application VMs can be placed. The figure below shows how some modular, pre-defined containers can be nested and plugged together to offer customized services for a particular tenant. A small number of defined containers can be replicated and plugged together in a large number of permutations to address a wide range of application requirements.

Examples Network Hypervisor Containers

These flexible, pre-defined containers can be device agnostic, just like their server counterparts, and help provide security and quality of service through tenant isolation, as well as application resiliency. During the application and VM provisioning process, the defined network containers advertise their capabilities and are deployed along with the VM in the proper locations. Just like the VMs they are aligned with, the network containers are location-independent and handle all the changes required during VM-mobility, ensuring that the application has the same network services in the new location. Obviously this goes well beyond just the layer 2 and 3 networking services, through to the layer 4-7 application services like load balancing, WAN optimization, and security as mentioned earlier.

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Cloud Computing – When Change is Hard, Standards & Structure Help

In my journeys to various industry events over the past 6 months, one element of Cloud Computing has begun to resonate over and over from attendees (customers, service providers, systems integrators) -- that we’re well past the stage of discussing or debating “what is Cloud computing?” and that we’ve moved to the stage of many live deployments.

But there is still some confusion or reluctance to reach broad deployments. The bottleneck seems to be less about technology and more related to the challenge of dealing with change. Not only is IT trying to figure out how to evolve their skills to new technologies (converged infrastructure, virtualization, and automation), but they are also trying to evolve their operating models to serve the business in faster, more efficient ways. And so many IT organizations are trying to figure out how to make the first steps to get over this critical hurdle, to provide a more standardized way for the business to interact with IT and derive value from improved pace of application deployments.

The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” -- Confucius

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