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The Power of the ACI Toolkit: The “Snapback” App

I recently wrote in my blog about a partner, WWT, that quickly developed a network replication solution across dual DC using the programming interface on the APIC.  Our own development team, just published a complete management rollback mechanism for the APIC using the ACI toolkit’s high level APIs and the APIC’s RESTful APIs.  It took them just a few short days to accomplish this.  This is a testament to the fantastic capability our customers and partners have for rapid feature development on this open programmable platform, the APIC and ACI fabric.

Cisco Insieme engineering team has introduced a new ACI toolkit feature to automate the snapshot and rollback of ACI fabric configuration. Why Snapshots and Rollback for Virtual Networks?  Virtualization introduced a powerful debugging and management capability when file based snapshots of state, data, and configuration of a virtual machine could be made at a specific point in time.  You could restore a previous state, restore lost data, and restart applications from a point in time using snapshots.  With network virtualization, you can store the state of the network, restore a previous configuration, and restart the network with its applications from a point in time.  There are tremendous applications for this capability for DevOps teams testing and debugging distributed applications to optimize performance at scale or to recover from some introduced error or failure.

Snapshot Feature: The tool called “snapback” allows administrators to take live snapshots of a running ACI Fabric configuration either immediately or at some predetermined time in the future.  It allows the snapshots to be performed as a one-time occurrence or on an ongoing schedule.  All snapshots are stored in a version control system that allows full viewing of any version of the configuration and the differences between versions.  Policies can be specified in version control to meet compliance requirements.

snapback-schedule-snapshot-set

Rollback Feature: Rollback is allowed to any previous configuration version and can be done as a full configuration rollback or as granular as per tenant. This enables certain tenants to be rolled back to previous configs, while certain others get to keep their current configs. All config files are readable and open JSON formatted text files. The Open interfaces of ACI enables easy integration of this “snapback” tool with third-party systems to develop integrated operations-focused solutions as it can be imported as a library, run from the OS command shell, or run as a web application.

snapback-snapshots

The source code of the toolkit with examples in GitHub, is available for you now to access and start building your own customized solutions using the APIC and ACI.

Related Links

http://acitoolkit.readthedocs.org/en/latest/snapback.html

https://github.com/datacenter/acitoolkit/

 

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Designing a SAN for the Next Decade

In the era of digitalization, mobile, social and the Internet of Everything, Data Center and Cloud infrastructure are more and more representing a strategic business asset for organizations of all kind.  Companies are looking into how to best design, scale and integrate the various components in order to leverage synergies and simplify management. Application uptime of 24×7 is now the norm and Fast IT is not just a marketing message but rather a desire for everyone.

According to a IDC study, worldwide data will grow from 4.4 zettabytes today to a whopping 44 zettabytes by 2020.  How do you create a SAN that can efficiently handle a 10-fold increase in data in just 5 years without breaking your IT budget?

Learn best practices for designing a converged SAN that will meet your critical business needs tomorrow as well as today at this live, 60-minute webcast.       REGISTER NOW - April 7, 2015,  8:00 AM PST

 

Like a tsunami, the proliferation of data threatens to overwhelm the capacity of the average storage area network (SAN). The latest Cisco  solutions can help you define and create a much more efficient network that reduces operating costs, simplifies management, and increases flexibility while scaling easily to meet your future requirements. Cisco’s latest offering benefits from the latest and greatest innovations in hardware, software, ASIC design and architectural approach, leading to improved performance, higher availability, unmatched scalability and simplified operations.

Subscribe to youtube Channel – http://www.youtube.com/ciscomds9000

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ACI – Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure for Microsoft System Center, Windows Azure Pack and More

ACI_John+Satya

John Chambers with Satya Nadella at ACI Launch

From the beginning Microsoft has been a strategic partner with Cisco in the development of our Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) technologies and solutions. In fact Cisco CEO John Chambers shared the stage with Microsoft’s Satya Nadella at the ACI launch several months ago in New York City.

ACI itself in the data center is a holistic architecture with centralized automation and policy-driven application profiles. ACI delivers software flexibility with the scalability of hardware performance. Traditionally, IT approaches took a siloed operational view, with no common operational model between the application, network, security, and cloud teams.  With ACI, a common network operational model delivers IT application agility, simplified operations across teams, assured network and application performance, and scale. Read More »

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Cisco UCS Breaks Oracle Records, I Break the Code

You know the code, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. I’m breaking it.  I’ll be joining my Cisco colleagues for COLLABORATE 15 in Las Vegas, but will be sharing all the good stuff we have planned. Even worse, I’ll be taking pictures.

#CiscoUCS is breaking Oracle performance records. See how at #Collaborate15 http://cs.co/9001NYT7

A video posted by Cisco Data Center & SDN (@ciscodc) on

Before you judge, take note of what I’ll be sharing (you would too).

Cisco UCS has earned 37 world records running Oracle database and workloads. Want blazing performance for Oracle E-Business Suite and PeopleSoft without breaking the bank? Cisco UCS delivers. Seriously, this kind of news can’t stay in Vegas.

I’m also looking forward to the preconference bootcamp on Oracle Virtualization and Licensing on April 12th. Dave Welch, CTO and Chief Evangelist with House of Brick Technologies will be joined by Cisco’s John McAbel for a 4 hour deep-dive to help you plan your Oracle deployments and lower licensing costs. Here’s a secret registration tip, send an email to registration@ioug.org to add the bootcamp to your schedule.

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Federated ACI Fabrics for Dual Data Center Deployments – A Disaster Recovery ACI use-case

Wins, Accomplishments, Fast Action, welcome to the world of Cisco ACI. In this blog, I want to take you closer to the core of ACI excitement. Cisco Insieme Business Unit and Cisco’s premier Partner, World Wide Technology Inc (WWT) have come together in developing an ACI based Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) solution for the next generation Data Centers. This blog specifically addresses the Disaster Recovery ACI use case implemented in WWT’s Advanced Technology Center (ATC). I will present highlights of how ACI has been implemented at ATC as two fabrics, across two Data Centers with federated controllers implementing an autonomous infrastructure and with replicated tenant configurations that will provide for disaster recovery.

This BC/DR use case couples the storage replication solution by Zert0 on NetApp storage and with a completely integrated and consistent ACI network solution on the primary and secondary sites to enable rapid application bring up on the remote site.  Network and security policies are replicated, compute resources are virtualized and synchronized, and storage is continuously replicated.  This integrated architectural approach addresses one of the major challenges enterprise customers have in deploying BC/DR solutions – aligning the configuration and deployment of network infrastructure in a simple process with the storage and application teams to achieve the Recover Point and Recover Time Objectives.

Network architecture: The ACI based network architecture is comprised of two independent fabrics with L3 connectivity between them. Each data center has a unique IP addressing namespace scheme and connects to the WAN. In the operational model per diagram-1, the “East” Data Center is termed primary and the “West” Data Center termed the backup (disaster recovery). Each Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (Cisco APIC) controller cluster is identified as the primary or secondary instance, and changes, additions or deletions to the application tenants, are replicated from the primary to the backup controller. Application tenant configurations are managed through a special Python module developed by WWT that programmatically synchronizes the two fabrics.

BCDR-1

External WAN connectivity for each Data Center is provided through the common tenant in respective ACI fabrics. By using the common tenant for external connectivity, the network and security administrator can assign the appropriate network configuration policy, security contracts and as well as firewall and load balancing services for the fabrics in each data center. The application (DevOps) teams will reference the common configuration and configure application connectivity for intra- and inter-tanant communications through the Application Network profile (ANP). F5 Gobal Traffic Manager (GTM) allows holistic management of multi-data center application delivery via intelligent DNS.

BCDR-2

This ACI based Disaster recovery solution has several other facets like storage replication, orchestration software (developed in-house by WWT) among other solution components. Please watch the YouTube Video for a demo illustration and the whitepaper for design details.

In closing, some key takeaways. Cisco ACI’s innovative architecture enables enterprise apps to treat the Data center as a dynamic, shared resource pool. This pool of resources is managed through a central controller (Cisco APIC) exposing all configuration and management components through a northbound REST API.  WWT exploits this programmatic interface of ACI to develop business continuity/disaster recovery solutions for customers.

Related Links

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnA1P1aYYYc&list=UU-ZgkyIop9MqOL4QF80UU9Q

www.cisco.com/go/aci

www.cisco.com/go/apic

https://www2.wwt.com/sites/default/files/White%20Paper%20-%20ACI%20and%20Disaster%20Recovery%20Solution.pdf

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