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UNS Spotlight on Cisco OverDrive, a Hypervisor for the Network

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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Pragmatic Insights into Pervasive Cloud Security – And a White Paper for you

Clouds were definitely on my mind this Monday just past (if you can forgive the pun! :-) )  I was cycling a stage of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain with a team of Cisco cyclists, to raise money for the ParalympicsGB charity to help paralympians attend the London 2012 Olympics.  At 7am on Monday, we left Fort William in the highlands of Scotland and cycled up (literally!) into the clouds through the Glencoe Mountains at the start of the 122 mile stage to Glasgow.  As you can see from the picture, we even brought our Cisco “NOW” Van – our Network On Wheels – to provide network access for the participants!  It reminded me it was time to write my next blog around Cisco Cloud Enablement Services.

The Cisco "NOW" or "Network On Wheels" Van (with Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain, background right)

As a follow up on my previous blog on Pervasive Cloud Security, I recently sat down with Rik Herlaar, from our Cisco Data Center Services team.  Rik is a Solutions Architect who has been involved in several large scale cloud computing design projects with some large customers.  I was keen to hear from Rik on his thoughts and hands-on experiences on the topic of cloud security.    I’ll relay some of his practical insights to you in this blog and also point you to a new Cisco Services white paper on cloud security, that expands on our original overview document you may have read already.

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Delivering More from Microsoft’s SQL Server 2008 with Cisco’s UCS Server Family

Guest Post by Raghunath Nambiar (UCS Performance Architect) and Frank Cicalese (UCS Systems Engineer)

Data’s at the heart of all business applications – whether it be a real-time transaction processing or an enterprise decision support system – we know that data is driving the show.

Microsoft’s SQL Server is the database platform that many enterprises have adopted as it provides a scalable architecture, attractive price points, and supports a multitude of use cases such as OLTP and Data Warehouse configurations as well as providing attractive extensions for Business Intelligence modules.

Over the past several months we’ve seen the Cisco UCS server family support a range of SQL Server use cases resulting in improved performance and cost savings for our customers.  The UCS architecture provides key features that can help improve the quality of the SQL Server services you deliver:  Our extended memory feature and virtualization capabilities are two areas that help improve database performance and raise your SQL Server consolidation ratios.

We have couple of upcoming webinar on Cisco UCS and Microsoft SQL Server that you should attend.  We’ll cover the topics mentioned here and more such as OLTP and Data Warehouse. It’s happening on Tuesday, June 28th @ 7:00am PDT and 10:00am PDT. Registration is at

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Cisco WAAS Case Study Worth Posting a Blog

Thought I’d call to your attention a nice new case study of a global customer, in the energy sector, Technip,  using Cisco WAAS, among many other Cisco products, to optimize application performance around the world.  A few highlights:

  • WAAS is doing a fine job of optimizing Citrix XenApp traffic, over both terrestrial and satellite links.
  • Router Integration offered Technip an alternative to appliances in some locations.  In this case it’s dedicated blades.  Cisco WAAS customers have plenty of new WAN optimization on-demand router integration options including WAAS on SRE and WAAS Express.
  • WAAS is a component of the successful deployment of Cisco collaboration technologies including Unified Communications, Telepresence and Digital Signage.  How?  Cisco WAAS transparency preserves router QoS.  And WAAS offers bandwidth management and digital sign content caching.  You can read about all that cool technical stuff!

Just a couple more thoughts:

  • For many or most XenApp deployments, the proprietary optimizations Citrix offers are not really necessary.
  • Unlike Riverbed, we don’t issue a press release for every win for which we get permission to go public.  We’re a bit more restrained.