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Policy Driven Infrastructure to Transform Your Microsoft Cloud, Apps, and Operations

Please join us Thursday Sept 24, 2015 11:00AM ET for a WindowsITPro virtual event.


We have an information packed agenda planned for you encompassing:

  • The cloud, the hybrid cloud, and the private cloud.
  • Software-defined networking and policy-based automation.
  • The idea of application policy in next generation networking technologies and how they differ from the networks of today.
  • How Next-Generation SDN is impacting the cloud, your applications, and the
    data center.

Join us to learn about how policy helps companies make “bi modal IT” a continuum for IT organizations to support both traditional and cloud native applications on a common infrastructure.  Learn how to reduce TCO, achieve greater agility for the entire IT organization, enhance security for compliance and governance needs and simplify operations when infrastructure itself helps support and enable applications.

Policy Driven Infrastructure to Transform Your Microsoft Cloud, Apps, and Operations delivered by yours truly and a distinguished executive panel including:

  • Michael Michael, Senior Director of Product Management at Apprenda, responsible for the vision and product direction of Apprenda’s Platform As A Service (PaaS) solution.
  • Scott Napolitan, a Senior Program Manager with Microsoft’s Cloud and Datacenter Management Organization focused on Network and Fabric Management.
  • Jeremy Oakey, VP Strategic Alliances at CliQr for their application-defined cloud management platform for modeling, deploying, and managing clouds, applications, and users.

Evolving Your Data Center to the Next Level delivered by Michael Otey, senior contributing editor for Windows IT Pro and SQL Server Pro.

Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Microsoft Solutions presented by Tim Cerling, Technical Marketing Engineer with Cisco’s Datacenter Group, focusing on delivering customer-driven solutions on Microsoft Hyper-V and System Center products.

Understanding Next-Generation SDN: The Complete Integration of your Data Center presented by Bill Kleyman, VP of Strategy and Innovation at MTM Technologies.

The Path Forward: Charting a Course to the Networks of Tomorrow presented by Frank Ohlhorst, an award-winning technology journalist, professional speaker, and IT business consultant with over 25 years of experience in the enterprise technology arena.

The virtual event will include an exhibition with demonstrations, presentations, videos, and engaging subject matter experts who’ll be glad to chat with you, answer questions, and provide you with access to even richer educational information.  I hope you will register now and join us next week!

Related Information on ACI and Microsoft Cloud Platform

ACI and Microsoft Cloud Platform solutions webpage

ACI and CliQr blog and interview

Microsoft Ignite breakout on ACI and Microsoft’s Cloud Platform

Video: Winning Together with Cisco ACI and Microsoft Azure Pack.

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New Innovations for L4-7 Network Services Integration with Cisco’s ACI Approach

As application performance, security and delivery get more critical, and as the need for network automation grows, the vision of an architecture that allows easy integration of L4-7 services into the data center fabric is increasingly getting validated. We’ve seen at least two services load balancers and firewalls in every application tier our customers deploy. Traditional deployment models are also shifting, as we have seen the model evolve from north-south traffic (perimeter based approaches) to east-west traffic patterns bringing new requirements of scale, security and application performance.

Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) architecture was designed to help both easy integration and scale of network services. ACI can manage physical switches, virtual switches in hypervisors as well as L4-7 services from multiple vendors stitching everything under the umbrella of applications. Recognizing that customers have a choice of L4-7 vendors, ACI has taken an open approach to accommodate automation of network services from multiple vendors (for both physical and virtual form factors) with its policy-driven architecture, delivering greater operational simplicity to customers.

Traditional way of inserting L4-L7 devices, from any vendor, in the network is to manually steer traffic through L4-L7 devices and configuring each of these devices independently. The manual steering of traffic is done by carefully provisioning VLANs/VRFs/Subnets etc by a network administrator today.

While ACI supports traditional mode of L4-L7 insertion from any vendor device, ACI provides additional capabilities for automating the entire workflow and tying it to applications. There are two steps in automation of L4-L7 integration through APIC:

  1. Automatically steering traffic from one application tier to chain of L4-L7 service devices and finally connecting back to another application tier.
  2. Automatically configuring all L4-L7 devices in a chain as the application are deployed and modified

The step (2) is ultimate level of automation; configuring all L4-L7 devices as needed by application and keeping it up to date as the application life cycle changes. For example customers add security policies into their firewall, but never clear them since it’s hard to correlate which policies to clear when application goes away, or when there are organizational changes with the relevant SME moves out. With APIC managing application tiers and configuration on L4-7 device, the configuration is added and removed dynamically as application are added or removed.

What’s new?

Since day 1, APIC supports traditional manual way of inserting L4-L7 services from any L4-L7 vendor. Similarly ACI supports fully automated mode called “Managed” mode, where both the network services stitching and device configuration is performed as described by both 1 and 2 above. The managed mode requires a “device package” which is typically provided by the concerned L4-L7 ecosystem partner and jointly qualified by Cisco/Partner for ACI.

A second new automation mode called “Unmanaged” will be introduced that equates to network stitching only as described in #1. Customers have realized that traditional manual mode is error-prone and hard to automate as workload moves around. The “Unmanaged” mode will provide a middle ground between traditional L4-L7 mode and fully automated ACI “managed” mode.
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Tales of a Fourth-Grade Something: Big Data with Cisco & Splunk at .conf & Strata

Someone at a meeting recently told me how cool it was that big data was finally moving out of the early adopter phase. He’s lucky I wasn’t drinking a beverage at the time, or he might have ended up wearing it.

I’m accused of being sort of a unicorn when it comes to the Big Data ecosystem, having worked with engineered Big Data environments since 2004 or so and Hadoop proper since 2009. And while some individual companies may be emerging from early adopter, it’s hard to say that Big Data itself is that new. You just have to look at the conference world to see how big this ecosystem has become, and how it’s shifted from theory and skunkworks projects and resume fodder, to technology solutions for new and metamorphic problems in business.

Some people will say “But surely there’s only been a competitive landscape for Hadoop distributions since 2012, right?” That’s true, but as I’ve said in 20 or more presentations in the past year, Big Data is more than Hadoop. And don’t call me Shirley.

One of the oldest companies driving Big Data software predates commercial Hadoop by a couple of years. In fact, they’re just about old enough to go into fourth grade (with apologies to Judy Blume for my title on this post). And you still have time to join Splunk (and Cisco) for their seventh annual worldwide user conference the week of September 21, 2015.

Buttercup at the .conf Search Party courtesy Lily Wai (@lgwai)

Buttercup at .conf Search Party via Lily Wai (@lgwai)


.conf is Splunk’s annual worldwide user conference, attended by thousands of customers and partners and users of Splunk’s suite of products.

Cisco has been attending, and presenting, for a while now, and 2015 is no exception. We will have a booth in the expo at .conf 2015, and you can join members of the Cisco team at two IT Operations breakout sessions.

  • Thursday, September 24, 11:15am: Cisco and Splunk: Under the Hood of Cisco IT (with Robert Novak and Cisco IT’s George Lancaster)

Learn how Cisco IT uses Splunk software to gain deep operational visibility into applications, accelerate problem resolution, and drive better business outcomes.

  • Thursday, September 24, 1:15pm: Event-Driven SDN with Splunk and Cisco’s Open SDN Controller (with Steven Carter and Friea Berg)

This session presents and demonstrates a system using Splunk and the Cisco Open SDN Controller for steering large data flows around firewalls and other devices that could disturb their performance while actively blocking threats.

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Make The World A Better Place – Simplify and Automate Your Data Center

Last week, I wrote about Cisco’s SDN Strategy for the Data Center. I’d like to follow that up with 2 comments today.

  • A reminder of the fact that we’ll be doing a webinar tomorrow on this topic, and
  • A general observation regarding SDN making the world a better place (don’t roll your eyes yet.  There’s beer involved.  Well, kind of. Read on…)

earth - beer

The webinar is called “How To Simplify and Automate Your Data Center With Cisco’s SDN Strategy” and its tomorrow, September 15, 2015 at 10am PST. You can register here. We’ll spend a few minutes talking about ACI, then much of the time on Programmable Fabric and Programmable Networks. As the webinar name would imply, we’ll cover some cool tools that help make your life easier, if you have something to do with deploying and operating networks in a data center. We’ll have at least one demo and relate the technology back to some use cases, showing how SDN can be applied in practical ways.

As you consider the evolution of SDN over the past few years, its more or less gone from this thing with a limited definition (separation of control plane from data plane, etc.) that was kind of a solution looking for a problem, to a more loosely defined set of capabilities that are having real impact. There are still folks who define as SDN as “Still Does Nothing”, but I think that – even if you wipe away the hype from the media, analysts, vendors, etc. – SDN is making business more effective and helping make peoples lives better. I’m not talking like feeding the hungry, creating global peace type “make peoples lives better”.

I’m talking about the fact that most jobs have a certain amount of stuff that is cool/interesting/challenging/fun and another part that, well, just has to get done. The part that can be boring/laborious/mind numbing. A long time ago, I used to run a network. I would copy and paste configs from one box, make a few changes to IP addresses, or interface numbers, or ACLs, or maybe route redistribution metrics, or whatever – and paste them to another box. Rinse, repeat.   Many times. This was tedious stuff. And for the most part, not very interesting. Any activity with a lot of copy and pasting is probably better done by a machine than a human. But a lot of people are still running their networks in pretty much the same way.

There is a better way. SDN can help you minimize the ‘just have to get it done’ part of your job, so you can spend more time on stuff that is impactful and engaging. We will dig into this more tomorrow. So, maybe you won’t be displacing Mother Theresa, but you can make your world a better, more cool/interesting/challenging/fun place.  And have more time to drink beer.  Or do whatever it is you like to do.  In any case, I hope you can be there.



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Cisco UCS Director: Your Data Center Conductor

Customers frequently comment that IT simply isn’t keeping pace with their needs.  Provisioning new data center resources can take weeks.  To be fair, IT professionals are doing the best they can but manual processes and organizational silos can make the process equivalent to trying to play a symphony without a conductor.

Cisco UCS Director’s advanced automation acts as the orchestra conductor for your data center.  Your data center is the power source of your business — if it is slow, your business is slow.  Cisco UCS Director’s advanced automation is exactly what you need to deliver speed and efficiency allowing IT to move in concert with your business. Read More »

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