Earlier this month, I attended the first ever summit on OpenDaylight (ODL) project in Santa Clara, CA. This near sold out event was largely successful by many standards. It brought together a large number of great minds to the table to solve some of the toughest challenges the networking industry is facing around Software-defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV). The group announced a first major step forward with the first open source software release called Hydrogen. The bulk of the credit goes to 154 contributors from Cisco, IBM, Ericsson, Red Hat, Citrix and others who wrote over a million lines of code in past ten months to make this happen.
The two-day summit was packed with a variety of sessions that were geared towards a diverse set of audience. The sessions varied from general topics to specific topics such as relevance of Open source software, NFV, LISP, standards, discussions on North and South bound APIs, developer tutorials for building applications & tool chain, using OpenStack with ODL, analytics, test automation, and a true story of SDN in production environment.
Of all these topics, here are the three important themes that stood out to me -
1. The importance of an Open Source, community initiative for SDN
The concept of Open Source software has been around since decades. It is fast catching up in the non-traditional realms of computer networking. For some, the concept of open source equates to free software. While this is partially true, I strongly believe that open=free is a misnomer. I have started to realize that open source and further, the collaborative initiatives like ODL is far beyond the notion of freeness. In my view, the most important thing that such an initiative does is to gather right minds to bring out bright ideas. The collective wisdom that emanates from such a collaborative initiative helps vendors develop a cohesive set of products that speaks a common language, and perhaps share certain fundamental design constructs to aid interoperability. At the same time, I believe that this collaboration helps to compress the infinite ways vendors can built products to a bounded, agreed upon set of behaviors and interfaces. Customers are real beneficiaries of such an open initiative due to this standardization and better product interoperability. As Vijay Pandey from IBM aptly said in one of his presentations, open source initiatives like ODL “promote innovation and raise the value bar.”
Cisco firmly believes in and supports such open source initiatives. Cisco is a platinum member of ODL project, as well as a Gold member of OpenStack Foundation. You can find more information about OpenStack at Cisco , and a rich set of Cisco Services to help you exploit and adopt OpenStack.
2. What and how much to Standardize (North and South bound APIs)
In the summit, there were several interesting debates on what to standardize and how much. With regards to how much, I am with Guru Parulkar’s mantra to “standardize as little as possible.”
One of the core capabilities that SDN brings to the table is the notion around exposing interfaces from control plane to the infrastructure layer (South Bound APIs or SBI) and to the application/business layer (North bound APIs or NBI). We talked about using common approach for design constructs above, and the APIs are central to the constructs. However, if we (are somehow able to) standardize every hook into the system, we are forcing the industry to take a “single” approach to solve the underlying problems. Additionally, I believe that such an approach will not only go against the very notion of openness, but will also hinder innovation and ability to provide unique experiences.
If we talk about SBI, we rightly need some standardized ways to abstract some of the infrastructure complexities. I learnt that ODL will include support for SDN open standards such as OpenFlow, VxLAN, PCEP etc. Similar to SBI, can we standardize the NBI’s as well?
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Tags: adoption challenges, APIs, Cisco, Cisco Services, consultative led, opendaylight, OpenStack, SDN, SDN controller
Since Cisco announced its intent to acquire WHIPTAIL, many have taken to the Internet to speculate about how WHIPTAIL’s flash memory systems will fit into Cisco’s product line. The speculation ended with the launch of Cisco’s UCS Invicta™ Series Solid-State Systems.
By introducing the capability and performance of flash memory into the UCS platform, which is dedicated to easy management, customers can finally be application-centric. They can organize and manipulate the environment in whatever way will best serve the business at any given point in time, which allows for usability and reusability of the resources.
Let’s say that I have an application requiring a certain amount of memory and processing capability. And let’s say that I want the application to operate with a specific level of performance. Now I can organize the environment very rapidly to account for those characteristics. I can assemble it and then make it available to the application owner to just simply place the application down.
UCS Invicta in conjunction with UCS Director allows users to organize environments around needs instead of reacting to and being limited by what is available. With the latest release of UCS Director, users can manage UCS Invicta (as well as their entire converged infrastructure) from a single self-service web portal, significantly reducing management time. Together with UCS Director, your infrastructure will automatically have resources available so you can accelerate applications. This is being application-centric, and this is how UCS Invicta complements the UCS architecture.
To learn more about the integration of solid-state into UCS and application acceleration, watch the UCS Invicta webcast.
Tags: application acceleration, Cisco UCS Director, UCS Invicta
When I ask IT executives how happy they are with their external support providers (outsourcers, vendors, etc.) invariably they express deep frustration. They look to these vendors to be real partners – to collaborate effectively and seamlessly, to do their job efficiently and transparently, and to bring real innovation to the table. Instead, they feel like they go into combat every day with these supposed “partners”. And, they say, it’s getting worse. But what has changed?
Over the past several years the number of support providers IT organizations deal with has increased exponentially (one analyst firm estimates a 400% increase over five years). Moreover, the complexity of the relationships is growing – no longer are support transactions limited to just one partner, in many cases incidents bounce between several different partners before they are resolved. Then there is cloud. Cloud makes consumption easy, but hidden behind this “easy on” experience is a highly complex support reality. Cloud services might look like one unified solution when they’re purchased, but in reality cloud services incorporate software, hardware, data centers, and networks from dozens of providers – when something goes wrong, it isn’t easy to even figure out where the problem is – let alone get it fixed.
But the paradigm for managing these relationships has stayed basically the same for decades. At the end of the month vendors provide reports on their own performance. Most IT organizations have teams of people that sift through these reports, consolidate them into spreadsheets, summarize and analyze. This reactive, long lag time model doesn’t support the business need for flexibility and agility.
Cisco believes what IT needs is a “dynamic support network” – whereby IT organizations have real time connections to support providers – all linked back to the system of record IT relies on to manage support. It shouldn’t be sufficient to find out at the end of the month that target SLA’s have been missed – IT needs to know if the SLA on the incident that is open NOW is going to be missed, allowing it to proactively ensure it meets the SLA.
Interestingly, when I talk with external support providers like outsourcers or managed service providers, they have exactly the same requirement. They want to see the incident they are working on from the point of view of the person who originally opened the ticket, not just from when they were brought into the process. They truly do want to partner – and in fact to delight – their customer. They recognize the customer is ultimately the end user, and it is the end users expectation they want to manage to. To accomplish this, they need to be integrated with their customers – their own dynamic network – with real time visibility and transparency into when the incident was raised, the original SLA, what has already happened on that incident, etc.
Cisco ServiceGrid is designed to solve this problem. With a “connect once, connect all” approach, ServiceGrid integrates all participants in the support process to the cloud platform only once, instead of integrating everyone one at a time. It allows companies to collaborate in real time to deliver services to a single customer. All information, data and workflows are shared in an automated way, eliminating manual practices and bottlenecks. From a customer perspective it looks like one company, even if two or more companies are working together to solve a case.
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Tags: Cisco, cloud, dynamic support network, IDC report, outsourcing, ServiceGrid
Windows Server 2012 R2 is central to Microsoft’s Cloud OS vision; the operating system platform delivers enhancements and new features in virtualization, management, storage, networking, and more. Our Cisco server infrastructure solutions (UCS) as well as our management (UCS Director, UCS Manager, Cisco Intercloud) and network capabilities are purpose built for supporting Microsoft’s virtualization and cloud offerings.
Figure 1. Cisco’s Microsoft Cloud OS Solutions and Capabilities
Together Microsoft and Cisco provide tightly integrated and flexible solutions that deliver on the benefits of a Microsoft private or hybrid cloud. Our R&D teams have spent, and continue to spend serious time together developing technologies, APIs, and solutions. In our blog post today, let’s focus in on the networking side of things, specifically on our award winning Nexus 1000V offering for Hyper-V:
- It’s all about simplifying and scaling virtual networking. Nexus 1000V for Hyper-V helps to reduce the operational complexities associated with virtual machine-to-virtual machine networking and thus help customers gain more of the benefits of server virtualization technology and cloud.
- It maintains networking resiliency across your physical and virtual environments as you move to the cloud. Protect your investment by future-proofing your network design with a flexible virtual networking platform.
- Recognized with the 2013 Best of Tech Ed award in the Virtualization category, Nexus 1000V extends comprehensive networking capabilities to your Hyper-V environment. A distributed virtual switching platform with advanced networking features and integrated virtual services, Nexus 1000V delivers consistency across your physical, virtual and cloud environments.
- Uses a consistent operational model designed to accelerate server virtualization and cloud deployments securely and transparently. Read More »
Tags: Cisco, Cisco UCS, Hyper-V, Microsoft, Nexus 1000v, virtual networking
We had some exciting sessions featuring Cisco Prime Service Catalog at Cisco Live Milan a few weeks ago. In case you missed it, we featured two great customer case studies.
One of them was Steria, a multinational service provider headquartered in France who has deployed Cisco Prime Service Catalog and FlexPod for their cloud services and innovative Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) solution: “Workplace on Command.” You can click here to download their Cisco Live presentation, and check out their written case study here.
The other customer we featured was a Fortune 100 enterprise: none other than our very own Cisco IT. The Cisco Live presentation about their internal IT service catalog deployment (dubbed “eStore”) is here – you can also read a detailed case study write-up here.
[Screenshot of eStore: the Cisco IT deployment of Cisco Prime Service Catalog]
Adel du Toit, who heads the Cisco eStore project, wrote a blog post about Cisco IT’s initiative here last June. Led by Adel and her colleageues, the internal Cisco IT eStore has been rapidly evolving, and has been deployed for a variety of use cases, including BYOD, mobile apps, collaboration, communications, desktop services, employee onboarding, networking, data center computing, and much more. Powered by Cisco Prime Service Catalog together with Cisco Process Orchestrator for automated service provisioning, the eStore is the “one stop shop” for all IT services within Cisco.
[Cisco IT’s eStore: a unified IT service catalog for all internal tools, apps, and services]
Recently, the eStore upgraded to the latest version of Cisco Prime Service Catalog, version 10.0. The eStore has also rolled out a mobile user interface that allows Cisco employees to download mobile apps to increase productivity and reduce unproductive approval cycles.
[The Cisco IT eStore mobile version]
This has enabled Cisco IT to provide a consumer-oriented shopping experience for IT services to all our employees, not unlike their experience as consumers with Amazon.com and the Apple App Store.
Interested in learning more? Join us on February 26th at 11 am EST / 8 am PST to learn more about how Cisco IT is automating IT-as-a-Service via the eStore and Cisco Prime Service Catalog. You can register here: http://cs.co/6014eN9j.
And don’t forget to follow @CiscoUM and @CiscoIT for the latest updates.
Tags: app store, byod, Cisco IT, eStore, it-as-a-service, ITaaS, portal, prime, Service Catalog, Steria, unified management, webinar