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Cisco Live Berlin 2016, just a week away – A preview

Making a trip to Berlin is always worthwhile. And February is especially notable, as this is when famous movie stars make their way down the red carpet for the international film festival Berlinale. For me, the special draw is Cisco Live Berlin and the opportunity to speak German. A week from now, Cisco Live Berlin will be ready to rock. From a Cisco Data center standpoint ACI, Inter-Cloud, IOT and UCS continue to grab the headlines. In particular, Cisco ACI has established itself as the dominant SDN technology with thousands of customers and a growing eco-system of partners in just one and a half years. In this blog, I am going to present excerpts of what attendees can broadly expect to see and experience at the buzzing event, and I will take you on a tour of how ACI is ready to engage and enrich you.



At the outset, I’d recommend that you attend all keynotes to understand Cisco’s strategy for emerging technology trends and market transitions. Cisco Execs Jeremy Bevan and Zorowar Biri Singh kick-start the proceedings with an opening keynote on Feb 16 as they discuss empowering customers and employees as companies embark on building a Digital Business in the new era of IT. Don’t miss several technology innovation talks occurring throughout the week.. Cisco Exec Soni Jiandani’s session on SDN/ACI topic is going to be a sell-out. Come and listen to Soni to understand how ACI enables business outcomes like Digital Transformation as well as how Cisco’s innovations, from Applications to ASICs, bring unique capabilities and value to the industry.


Now I want to segue to ACI specifics. The last year has been phenomenal from an ACI eco-system momentum standpoint. F5 and Citrix, leading ADC vendors, have developed joint solutions with ACI and we have experienced several customer wins and success stories.

ACI Solution Partners

F5 is a platinum sponsor and has a big presence at Cisco Live Berlin this year to delight the attendees. Visit F5 at stand P2 to meet with subject matter experts and watch live demos of F5 and Cisco solutions that enable rapid, secure, and reliable L2–7 services across physical, virtual, and cloud platforms. Attend F5’s technical breakout session BRKSP-2003 for a Technical Deep Dive on F5 BIG-IQ, BIG-IP and Cisco ACI for Applications Deployment. Do not miss F5’s DevNet Zone workshop to learn how to deploy applications configurations with F5 BIG-IP and Cisco Nexus 9000 infrastructure with Puppet. Get a head-start by watching the live panel session video we recorded last month.

Citrix is a platinum sponsor at Cisco Live Berlin.. This year , Citrix has a signifcant presence in the partner area. Key activities at the booth include joint solution demos featuring UCS-XD/XA with ACI, ACI-NetScaler, ACI POC on Github, Cisco APIC-EM among other major ones. Furthermore, David Potter and Raj Gulani from Citrix are doing a breakout (BRKSP-2006) on the topic, “Citrix and Cisco Alliance – Delivering the best load balancing, virtual desktops and application delivery with Cisco ACI”.  For your benefit, we also have a detailed white-board video illustrating various ACI and Citrix NetScaler deployment scenarios. There are many other exciting activities to offer, which you can check out at the Citrix Booth P3.

Demos and Theater Presentations at WOS

At the World of Solutions (WOS) this year, SDN/ACI, UCS and Cloud take center stage in the Data Center category. There are multiple demos showcasing ACI innovations. I want to draw your attention to key ones like security and micro-segmentation, Multi-Hypervisor support, and ACI integration with Cloud Management Platforms.  We also have a ”Meet the Engineer” program, which gives you the opportunity to engage with a Cisco engineer in a 1:1 conversation focused on your unique questions and challenges.  Click here to setup a 1:1 session. Finally, you have access to our subject matter experts staffing the booth demos. They will give you a real-life demo and explain how these are relevant to your needs.


So stop by the WOS to explore new technologies and get answers to your unique questions.

In addition to the hands-on demos, we also have round the clock mini-presentations at the WOS Cisco Education Zone mini-theater. This year we have several exciting ACI theater topics namely “Secure and Accelerate your Applications with policy-based L4-L7 services”, “Network Analytics – Key Use Cases for Applications, Automation, and Operations”, “Open NXOS / Programmability Solutions”, plus many more. If you are hard pressed for time, these sessions are ideal given their short duration nature.   They will give you a quick overview on innovative features and architectures of Cisco ACI. Check our WOS Theater roster in the agenda handout.


Breakout Sessions

To your heart’s delight is how I’ll describe Cisco technical breakout sessions. Yes, we have more than 300 breakouts from industry recognized experts at the show. ACI breakouts feature prominently, and the legends of the ACI domain including Carlos Pereira, Ranga Rao, Lilian, Maurizio, Thomas Scheibe all are presenting stimulating sessions.. Search the session catalog to pick your choice sessions. I recommend Carlos’s breakout BRKVIR-2931 which takes you on an end-end journey of ACI. Also TECDCT-2002, a day-long technical session by ACI big guns Thomas, Azeem et al will give you an end-end view of the evolving Data Center fabric. Marketing Director, Craig Huitema is doing a session PSOSDN-2002 that focuses on how to speed up business by simplifying Data centers with ACI and Nexus. ACI thought leader Harry Petty  is doing a Panel session PNLACI-2201 same day with fellow Cisco experts and Customer Thomas Raabo on how to build Data Centers with ACI.  You are in for a double treat on Feb 17.

Social Networking

As a Cisco Live attendee, you benefit from the opportunity to interact with your peers, Cisco staff and partner technical experts in both structured and informal settings. Our Welcome Reception and Customer Appreciation Event are the highlights of the week’s social calendar. Read more on the Social Events & Networking Onsite section. Our social media online communities provide year round access to like-minded individuals as well as valuable content, news and updates. We’d love it if you would join the conversation.


I can go on and on, but I’d never be able to cover all of the excitement in store. There is so much more you can explore on your own, and our Meet and Greet ambassadors will be happy to assist you at the show. As for me, if time permits, I plan on acquainting myself with some of the legendary artworks in Berlin’s 100 plus Museums. Safe travels and a happy Cisco Live.

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Keeping It Simple While Keeping It Fresh

When you read the headline, you may think this blog is about a new restaurant or cuisine, but this post is about UCS management. The description may not sound like it has much to do with software, but stay with me. One of the challenges you encounter when you have nearly 50,000 customers and hundreds of thousands of end users that use your software every day to manage millions of systems is providing significant enhancements (keeping it fresh) while still making it easy to use (keeping it simple). This is the challenge we faced when we made the latest upgrades to UCS management.

Here’s an example. In the new release of UCS Manager, version 3.1, we have added a new HTML 5 user interface (UI) to keep it fresh. Our customers have been using the Java UI in UCS Manager for years, so we had to make sure it was simple for them to transition. Our developers replicated the screens in HTML 5, so there is virtually no difference from the same screens in the Java UI. The layout, colors, icons and text are almost identical between the Java and HTML5 UI to provide a seamless user transition.

(There’s an example of the new HTML 5 UI in the screen captures below.) The new release supports both the HTML 5 and Java UI, so customers can transition in a way that works best for them without the hassle of having to learn new screens or modifying any of their processes.

Example of the new HTML 5 UI in UCS Manager

UCS Manager Screenshots 2

There are many new enhancements in the latest updates to UCS management.

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Enabling DevOps to Succeed: Go Beyond APIs

lori-short-2012Bio: Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire software suite with an emphasis on F5 Synthesis and LineRate. She currently focuses on cloud computing, infrastructure, devops, data center architecture, and security-related topics. Lori has extensive development and technical architecture experience in both high-tech and enterprise organizations, in addition to network and systems administration expertise. Lori authored this Blog.


One of the most frustrating experiences a developer can have is when a deployment into production goes wrong. It doesn’t matter how much you test yourself or in QA, invariably something goes wrong in production. That’s usually because while traditional DEV and TEST (QA) environments closely mirror the application infrastructure that will be used in production, it does not – and cannot – mirror the network infrastructure. The complex web of application and network services that exist in a production environment have been too expensive and difficult to replicate. So developers and admins have had to cross their fingers and hope nothing goes wrong. And when it does? It’s back to the queue until the next change window opens.

One might surmise that if you could only test deployments in a real environment that such situations would effectively go away. But asking to test against real, live production network infrastructure is akin to Oliver Twist asking for “More, please” in Dickens’ famous novel.

This nightmare is not reserved for developers and operators. Imagine, if you will, a network or application service professional crafting the appropriate policies designed to scale, secure, and optimize your application. This is not a trivial task. Oh, certainly assigning IP addresses and even VLANs seems simple, but there’s so much more to “the network” than just basic networking. There’s the load balancing with its associated (and very much required) monitoring. There’s application and network firewalling, anti-malware and anti-virus scanning for systems that exchange large data sets. There’s optimizations for mobile and things that must be configured, routes between services, isolation policies and more. This isn’t a “give me an IP address and let’s be done with it” kind of process. It’s a complex dance involving multiple parties that requires collaboration and careful orchestration.


In the past there’s been no way to “test” such a complex interaction of services outside of production. It’s do or die, deploy or roll back. It’s no wonder it takes so long to move that app into production.

But things are changing, for the better. Virtualization and programmability of network and application service infrastructure is making it possible to test policies and configurations before production, in increasingly complex configurations. Whether it’s the use of virtual labs or virtual appliances, the need to support testing of network and application service infrastructure is being heard and answered.

This is critical, especially as these systems become more integrated and orchestrated. Consider the role of Cisco’s APIC, for example, in not only provisioning but configuring a variety of application services such as those We (F5) provide through BIG-IP and BIG-IQ. It’s important that those responsible for deploying the policies that scale, secure, and optimize apps are able to test the orchestration that will ultimately deliver the application’s needed services into production.

That’s why it’s exciting to see Cisco’s efforts around DevNet and in particular its sandboxes. The ability to test against real infrastructure before moving into the production environment is of significant value in reducing the time it takes to move through production and improving time to market for all manner of applications. Like our own DevCentral, Cisco’s DevNet efforts are designed to provide a community in which documentation, testing, example code, and support are all available when its needed, whether that’s at 2pm or 2am.

This support and ability to test is paramount as DevOps continues to make its way into the network and bring with it the benefits developers and operators have begun to enjoy: stability of infrastructure, consistency of policy, and speed of deployment. “The network” needs not only the methodologies DevOps brings but similar frameworks for testing and the application of continuous integration for those networking components that rely on integration to provide for deployment and administration of network and application services, such as Cisco and F5.

Sandboxes, documentation, examples, and virtual appliances all lend themselves to enabling DevOps to extend its reach into the deployment pipeline. By including critical network and application services as part of an extended CI/CD pipeline, organizations can enjoy the benefits of a more agile deployment pipeline.

Greater agility in the pipeline through community, testing, and support is as much a goal of our partnership with Cisco as the deployment experience offered by the integration between Cisco APIC and F5 solutions.

Check out the 2nd release of F5’s State of Application Delivery Report. This survey of over 3,000 global customers helps us better understand how organizations from a diverse cross-section of industries, departments and regions deliver applications and keep their data and users secure, in light of such IT trends as cloud computing, SDN and DevOps.

Deploy on.

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The Most Boring Service We offer … And how to bring down a data center in one easy snip!

I do enjoy the (sometimes irreverent!) perspectives of some articles on data center in the UK publication “The Register“, and the story of how a data center change went wrong made me laugh, cringe and cry at the same time – the change being when an electrician cut the wrong wire and brought down a 25,000 square feet data center!!!

It Only Takes a Snip ... The Case for Change Support

It Only Takes a Snip … The Case for Change Support


Let’s have a look at what went wrong here, and then I’ll relate this to one of our more fundamental services, that of “change support”. Some may call this a “boring” service option, however “fundamental” is much more appropriate, as the following story will show.  Finally, I’ll point you to a free white paper to illustrate the cost benefits.

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Cool Updates to UCS Mini and M-Series

Tuesday Girish blogged about the new UCS Innovations and at the end of this post there is a list of other blogs with more details on other updates.

Today I’ll go a bit more in-depth on what’s new for UCS Mini & M-Series Modular Servers.


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