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Network Automation and Programmability for Application deployments using Cisco Nexus 9000 and F5 BIG IP

One of the major burdens in today’s Data Center is the management of complex IT environments. It requires considerable staff time to configure, deploy, and manage application infrastructure. Increasingly Automation and Programmability are becoming top of mind for Developers and Operators as companies transform to cloud based business models.


Virtualization and Programmability of Network and Application Service Infrastructure is making it possible to test policies and configurations before production, in increasingly complex configurations.. This support and ability to test is paramount as DevOps continues to make its way into the network and bring with it the benefits developers and operators have begun to enjoy: stability of infrastructure, consistency of policy, and speed of deployment. By including critical network and application services as part of an extended Continuous Integration/Development (CI/CD) pipeline, organizations can enjoy the benefits of a more agile deployment pipeline.

Today, many customers are eager to learn and implement best practices on how Network Programmability and Automation can come to the rescue of Data Center operators, from initial network startup through provisioning of new workloads and end points and into visibility and monitoring of operations.

With Cisco Open NX-OS on the Cisco Nexus 9000 and Nexus 3000 Series switches, Cisco exposes the full power of the underlying Linux operating system. In addition, Cisco provides numerous extensions that make it possible to access these capabilities with the appropriate level of security and protection desired by the specific user. Likewise, F5 BIG-IP’s programmatic framework provides Developers, the ability to work with control plane, data plane and simplified application deployments through their iControl, iRules and iApp applications.

To further kindle your interest on this topic, I want to invite you for an online Panel session titled “Network Automation and Programmability for application deployments using Cisco Nexus® 9000 and F5 BIG-IP”, the latest episode of our series of live developer panels being hosted  by Cisco and F5. This episode is going to discuss capabilities and use cases for Network Automation and Programmability with the devices.

The Live Panel session will be held on Jan 20, 11 AM, PST.

Title: Network Automation and Programmability for application deployments using Cisco Nexus 9000 and F5 BIG-IP

Moderator: Ravi Balakrishnan

Panelists: Ranga Rao, Latha Vishnubhotla

Register Now for the event and you’ll be able to submit questions to be considered for answering during the seminar.

Related Links:

Join Cisco DEVNET

Join F5 DevCentral

Your New Year’s Resolution for 2016: Start with a Cisco Domain Ten Workshop

A few years ago, I wrote a series of blogs on Cisco’s Domain Ten(SM)  framework.  Since then, we’ve used this simple yet powerful analysis tool to help guide many customers on data center and IT transformation projects.  I personally found it quite notable that leading market analyst firm IDC, recognizing Cisco as the worldwide leader in the Networking Consulting Services arena in their August 2015 IDC MarketScape Worldwide Network Consulting Services 2015 Vendor Assessment (IDC Document #258131), called out Cisco Domain Ten in their assessment of Cisco.

Over the years, as we’ve used this framework to analyse customer IT, data center and cloud challenges, we’ve evolved and tuned the framework.  You can learn more about Cisco Domain Ten, in the video below as well as my original blogs, which are still very relevant.

How then, do you know if a Cisco Domain Ten would help you in your data center, cloud and broader IT initiatives? How do you know if you should be making a Cisco Domain Ten workshop one of your new year’s resolutions for 2016?

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Cisco SDN, the Disruptive ACI Technology, Leads to an Avalanche of Opportunities

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and thanks to you all for considering ACI as your SDN solution to simplify your data center operation and automation. This is a follow on to my last blog to provide details on how we have delivered a true disruption in networking and opened the gate for agility of your applications where-ever they are.

The ACI’s policy model allows a consistent way of managing your infrastructure. For people new to ACI, let me step back and describe what I mean by policy model.

With traditional networks, application teams put in requirements for their infrastructure teams who then translate it into networking constructs like VLANs, subnets, ports, and routes often times using spreadsheets. The following picture depicts a very simple case for a three tier application. As you can see, the workflow for how application requirements get translated which can be slow, labor intensive, and vulnerable to manual errors.

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ACI Surpasses VMware NSX Again with Micro Segmentation & End-Point Granularity

Cisco Systems Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) is the industry leading SDN platform according to Gartner, outpacing NSX by a factor of 2:1. ACI continues to accelerate past NSX by enabling Micro Segmentation and End-Point Granularity.  In real world data centers, there are many simultaneous application delivery end points including VM’s from multiple hypervisors, bare-metal hosts, Linux containers, and layer 4 – 7 appliances that are both physical and virtual.

VMware recently published articles regarding this announcement and appear confused through inaccurately stating ACI capability.  Juan Lage, a Principal Engineer at Cisco Systems provides an accurate and detailed description of our capabilities and addresses VMware’s obvious misunderstanding in his article below my introduction.

After reading Juan’s article below, the only thing left to say to VMware NSX is welcome to the “real world”

When we announced last month the 1.2 release of ACI ( we knew that we were bringing a lot of value to our customers, but we also knew that as a consequence, we are making it more complicated for competing offerings, and that there would be reactions to our announcement.

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This is why VMware’s blog “VMware NSX and Split and Smear Micro-Segmentation”
( ) did not come as a surprise.

The author of the blog attempts to prove that only VMware NSX can provide micro segmentation. Also, it appears the author suggests that you are not protected from “the bad” guys if you don’t have VMware’s Micro Segmentation.

It is an interesting post, but it has several statements that are inaccurate and a few ideas and exaggerations that are recurring in NSX’s marketing and that we certainly disagree with. Read More »

Avoid Wild Light Sabers & See How Pulsant Delivers Cloud Services Faster With ACI (Case Study)


Being fast is important this time of year.

X–Wing Fighters in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” are fast.

Avoiding that overly excited light saber wielding fan in line requires you to be fast.

Holiday shoppers are snatching up deals fast.

Retailers with transaction spikes need to add infrastructure capacity fast.

Your customers want their IT Infrastructure services fast…and Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) helps deliver that speed.

This IDC report shows how Pulsant – a UK based IT Infrastructure Services Provider – delivers services fast with ACI. It also quantifies the returns on that speed and other benefits. In some ways, their story is like that of many customers – they need to deliver IT services faster, they need to do more with less…you know the drill. And if you are using ACI, you also know how to address those issues. If not, take a couple minutes and check out the report. In it, Martin Lipka, Head of Connectivity Architecture at Pulsant, addresses a number of interesting issues and IDC helps to quantify them. Check out how Pulsant is:

  • Onboarding customers faster with the “simplified automation” ACI provides
  • Growing its customer base without needing to add a commensurate number of network engineers
  • Reducing the frequency of misconfigurations and improving the security of its services

In the report, Martin explains how “automation and repeatable processes enabled by Cisco ACI have benefited his company by reducing the time needed to provision network resources and speeding up deployment cycles.” For example, “Pulsant needed an average of 7–14 days before moving to Cisco ACI to deliver a bespoke cloud service to a customer, whereas it now needs only 2–3 days.” At the back end, when those services are no longer needed, “the network process of decommissioning a customer and cleansing the configuration has gone from taking hours to seconds thanks to Cisco ACI’s built-in automation.”

ACI helps Pulsant deliver services fast. ACI also delivered a return fast – ROI analysis showed a payback period of under 7 months.

In summary, if you are looking to deploy services fast, tear them down fast, get a return fast – check out the report and check out ACI.

And, oh yeah, as a public safety message, please let’s not swing those light sabers too fast tonight. May the force be with you…

Photo courtesy of

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