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The Benefits of an Application Policy Language in Cisco ACI: Part 4 – Application Policies for DevOps

October 21, 2014 at 5:00 am PST

[Note: This is the last installment of a four-part series on the OpFlex protocol in Cisco ACI, how it enables an application-centric policy model, and why other SDN protocols do not.  Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3]

As noted earlier in this series, modern DevOps applications such as Puppet, Chef, and CFEngine have already moved toward the declarative model of IT automation, so there is already some obvious synergy between DevOps and the Cisco ACI policy model. DevOps automation products are also optimizing application delivery processes and are designed to automate critical IT tasks to make the organization more agile and efficient.

In an early 2014 blog post, Andi Mann, vice president of strategic solutions at CA Technologies, wrote about the evolution to DevOps and the synergy with the Cisco ACI policy model:

Though the DevOps approach of today—with its notable improvements to culture, process, and tools—certainly delivers many efficiencies, automation and orchestration of hardware infrastructure has still been limited by traditional data center devices, such as servers, network switches and storage devices. Adding a virtualization layer to server, network, and storage, IT was able to divide some of these infrastructure devices, and enable a bit more fluidity in compute resourcing, but this still comes with manual steps or custom scripting to prepare the end-to-end application infrastructure and its networking needs used in a DevOps approach.

The drag created by these traditional application infrastructures has been somewhat reduced by giving that problem to cloud providers, but in reality this drag never really went away until Cisco innovated application-centric programmability with Cisco ACI. This innovative new solution is now poised to greatly benefit the whole application economy, especially management of the DevOps application environment…

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SQL de Dissabte (SQLSaturday Barcelona)

SQL Saturday Gary and Renee

Of the more than 300 SQLSaturdays around the world, I am lucky enough to represent Cisco at the one in Barcelona on October 25th. If you’re attending TechEd Europe we encourage you to also join us at this one-day free event for IT professionals to learn more about SQL Server and the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS).

If my experience at a recent SQL event in San Diego is any indication, it is going to be a great event. I was amazed that even after UCS being recognized as the #1 x86 blade server in Americas, many database administrators still came to our table and asked, “What is Cisco doing here at a SQL Saturday event?” The good news is that these same people left with an understanding of how UCS is different from our competitors and can help simplify, standardize and optimize SQL Server deployments.

In San Diego, 80 people showed up to Cisco consulting systems engineer, Aaron Rigney’s presentation, “Optimize Your SQL Server 2014 Workloads with Cisco UCS” which covered the following key benefits.

  • Quickly and easily deploy new SQL Servers in minutes
  • Proactively manage and automate your  SQL Server workloads with Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 and PowerShell integrations with UCS Manager
  • Achieve the highest levels of consolidation and performance for both virtual and bare metal implementations.

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Cisco at Microsoft TechEd Europe 2014

October 17, 2014 at 4:17 pm PST

Ready to savor tapas, Gaudi and the most vibrant community of IT professionals in the industry? You must be headed to Barcelona for Microsoft TechEd Europe, 28-31, October. Cisco will be there as well.  We’ll be showcasing integrated solutions from Cisco and Microsoft for Windows Server 2003 migrations, cloud and SQL Server.

Cisco and Microsoft have worked closely to integrate Cisco UCS with Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V and System Center 2012 R2, to provide the optimal platform for your Microsoft clouds and applications. Listen to what Microsoft Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson has to say about the Cisco and Microsoft relationship.

Tech Demos

Make sure to stop by stand #207 to speak with a Cisco solution expert and take in a demo on: Read More »

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The Benefits of an Application Policy Language in Cisco ACI: Part 3 – Group Policies

October 17, 2014 at 5:00 am PST

[Note: This is the third a four-part series on the OpFlex protocol in Cisco ACI, how it enables an application-centric policy model, and why other SDN protocols do not. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4]

The Cisco ACI fabric is designed as an application-centric intelligent network. The Cisco APIC policy model is defined from the top down as a policy enforcement engine focused on the application itself and abstracting the networking functions underneath. The policy model unites with the advanced hardware capabilities of the Cisco ACI fabric underlying the business-application-focused control system.

The Cisco APIC policy object-oriented model is built on the distributed policy enforcement concepts for intelligent devices enabled by OpFlex and characterized by modern development and operations (DevOps) applications such as Puppet and Chef.

At the top level, the Cisco APIC policy model is built on a series of one or more tenants, which allows the network infrastructure administration and data flows to be segregated. Tenants can be customers, business units, or groups, depending on organization needs. Below tenants, the model provides a series of objects that define the application itself. These objects are endpoints and endpoint groups (EPGs) and the policies that define their relationships (see figure below). The relationship between two endpoints, which might be two virtual machines connected in a three-tier web application, can be implemented by routing traffic between the endpoints to firewalls and ADCs that enforce the appropriate security and quality of service (QoS) policies for the application and those endpoints.

Endpoint Group Policy

Endpoints and Application Workloads Along with Tenants and Application Network Profiles Are the Foundation of the Cisco ACI Policy ModelEndpoints and Application Workloads Along with Tenants and Application Network Profiles Are the Foundation of the Cisco ACI Policy Model

For a more thorough description of the Cisco ACI application policy model, please refer to this whitepaper, or this one more specifically on Endpoint Groups.

For this discussion, the important feature to notice is the way that Cisco ACI policies are applied to application endpoints (physical and virtual workloads) and to EPGs. Configuration of individual network devices is ancillary to the requirements of the application and workloads. Individual devices do not require programmatic control as in prior SDN models, but are orchestrated according to the centrally defined and managed policies and according to application policies.

This model is catching hold in the industry and in the open source community. The OpenStack organization has begun work on including group-based policies to extend the OpenStack Neutron API for network orchestration with a declarative policy-based model based closely on EPG policies from Cisco ACI. (Note: “Declarative” refers to the orchestration model in which control is distributed to intelligent devices based on centralized policies, in contrast to retaining per-flow management control within the controller itself.)

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Cisco to expand portfolio of SAP HANA Mission-Critical Platform Solutions

Cisco introduces an 8 Socket SAP HANA Server

Today, Cisco expanded their portfolio of server products for SAP HANA Solutions with the certification of an 8 socket C880 SAP HANA Server.  This server will be used exclusively for SAP Analytics and Suite on HANA workloads.

With this expansion of the server product line, Cisco provides a one-stop shop for their complete SAP architecture which includes Cloud, (Enterprise, Intercloud, Private, and Hybrid Cloud), Compute, Management, and IT Process Automation (ITPA).  The Cisco server expansion will also highlight how Cisco’s eco-partners may augment their SAP workloads on Cisco certified platforms Read More »

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