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The Role of Layer 4-7 Services in Scaling Applications for the Cloud-Computing Data Center

The Cloud Challenge
Cloud computing is increasing demands on applications and the application-delivery infrastructure must change to meet the challenge. Virtualization does not solve the problems with applications scaling, in fact it adds complexity. Infrastructure alone does not solve the challenge either. You don’t want to oversubscribe or just add capacity on demand. The infrastructure needs to respond to user demand based on business value and maintain a favorable cost structure. This means that you need intelligent load processing to manage scale, especially given the evolution of applications, which now make numerous backend function calls, which create more traffic than at the front end.

The Need for Scale
Cloud-computing applications are characterized by stateful access, with differentiated service levels, charged to the end user using the pay-per-use pricing model. Implicit in this model is the assumption that a cloud application is always on. Scaling the cloud delivery model to an Internet scale (millions of users) is a challenge that next-generation Layer 4–7 infrastructure needs to overcome.

Scaling a cloud application involves scaling three mechanisms: location (mobility), replication, and load balancing. Virtualization was an early catalyst for cloud computing because it substantially lowered the cost of replication and mobility of a prepackaged application. It does not, however, solve the load-balancing problem. Load balancing involves scaling the address, name space, transport, session, identity, and business logic of the application. Clustering enables scaling of application business logic but leaves the rest of the problem to a proxy infrastructure.
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Platform as a Service: The Next Big Opportunity for Communications Service Providers

The Route to PaaS

When cloud computing emerged a few years ago Communications Service Providers (CSPs) saw the opportunity to build the infrastructure layer and offer services on it. CSPs had data center facilities that when combined with their network assets created a cloud service offer with higher service delivery assurance than some alternatives. CSPs are now delivering infrastructure-based cloud services, especially Compute as a Service and Storage as a Service, to the public and to their large Enterprise customers in private cloud offers. As the cloud service model matures, providers who have invested in cloud infrastructure are finding that they are well positioned to evolve their Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings into new service delivery models by leverage their services, systems, and expertise to take on the next great opportunity in cloud services which is Platform as a Service.

The Value of PaaS

PaaS is an integral component to development and delivery of cloud-based applications delivered as Software as a Service—or SaaS. Developing a PaaS offer gives CSPs the opportunity to take advantage of the huge and growing SaaS market and help to accelerate the development of SaaS offers. CSP’s can take an active role by leveraging their assets and developing their capabilities, via a PaaS offer, rather than just hosting and transporting SaaS services. The capability they can provide is to enable development and then deploy applications that are created using tools that they support on to their cloud infrastructure. PaaS enables CSPs to carve out a new and essential role in SaaS development and delivery, situated between software developers and end users, for both business and consumers.
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Cisco UCS & Cisco Nexus – Making M&Ms and VMs Awesome!

Based on the positive feedback I received from my Cisco UCS videos, I decided it was time to tackle a slightly more complicated set of topics. While it’s fairly easy to come up with a set of keywords that spell out C-I-S-C-O, sometimes it’s valuable to take off the training wheels and go a little broader. So in today’s video, we combine the simplicity of M&Ms with the complexity of VMs. How do we take technology that provides tremendous value to customers and explain it in a way that’s fun and easy to replicate? Well, let’s see what happens… Read More »

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Is Data Center Fabric Just Hype?

Over the last few days, I’ve been listening to some interesting conversations on the topic of “fabric” in the data center.  To be honest, one of the common questions I get is if there is anything materially different about “Fabric” (our Data Center Fabric or anyone else’s), or is it merely the latest buzzword from bored marketing geeks.  From what I have seen, many of the companies throwing around the term “fabric” are referring only to transport and are usually tying it to a specific product or technology.  On these two points, Cisco’s view of fabric markedly differs. Read More »

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Automating Cisco UCS Management with Windows PowerShell

As many of you know, a big part of the UCS story revolves around the flexibility we’ve built into the UCS management model.  While we hear great feedback from customers about the native UCS management GUI, we know that many of you have already invested lots of time in building automated solutions to repetitive IT tasks.  To that end, we want to help you find ways to use the tools and processes that have already been built along side of UCS.

We know that many of our customers are already running Microsoft applications on top of UCS.  For many of you, that means that you’re also likely automating repetitive tasks using Microsoft’s PowerShell scripting language.  PowerShell is an immensely powerful tool in an IT admin’s bag of tricks.  Introduced back in 2006, it has matured to become common across not only Microsoft’s business software, but also among their partner community – including NetApp, Quest Software, and even VMWare.

Shortly after we brought UCS to market, we got a specific request from an early adopter to build out PowerShell support for UCS .  Here on the team, nothing moves us faster than feedback directly from our customers, so it got the cogs turning and we’re happy to announce our first public release of the PowerShell Management Toolkit for UCSM.  We decided to even take that a step farther – besides providing PowerShell support, we’ve also made available .NET managed code that can be used to natively build UCS support into a .NET application.  For the rest of the post, I’m going to spend some time talking about some of the nifty ways in which UCS PowerShell provider can be used.  Fair warning here, folks – we’re about to get technical :-)

For the brave among you, read on……

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