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Part 2: Ten Learnings and Observations from the 2015 London Gartner Data Center Conference

Last week I attended the 2015 London Gartner Data Center conference.

Shadow IT - Addressing the Challenges with the Cisco Cloud Consumption Services

Shadow IT – Addressing the Challenges with the Cisco Cloud Consumption Services

In my first blog (part 1) on this event,  I covered some of my main learnings and observations, #1 .. #5:

  • Bi-modal IT,
  • Anti-fragility,
  • Shadow IT (and how Cisco Cloud Consumption Services can help you here, SDN, and
  • Software asset management,

Let’s now go on and discuss #6 … #10 … on topics from buzzwords, to SDx, and on to Scotch Whisky! Read More »

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ACI Applications Spotlight: Microsegmentation and New Application Partners

At Gartner’s Data Center Conference this year, everyone is talking about how Data Centers are evolving to meet the needs of mobile, social, Big Data, and cloud native applications. The Data Center, People, and Processes are the focus as IT organizations look at supporting their traditional core enterprise applications (Mode 1) and new cloud native (Mode 2) applications to become Digital Enterprises.  The organization transformation most often mentioned has been the integration of Development and Operations – creating DevOps processes, culture, and teams.

Applications, cloud, and security management stacks and architectures must evolve as well to support the needs of these distributed applications in distributed data centers.

Microsegmentation

To support cloud native and multi-tier applications, Cisco ACI takes an elegant approach to provide fine grained security with microsegmentation which uses policy-based automation for  enhanced security for east-west traffic within the data center. Its true value lies in its integration with application design and holistic network policy, and it interoperates transparently with a wide variety of hypervisor switches (VMware vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS), Microsoft Hyper-V virtual switch), bare-metal servers, L4-L7 devices, and orchestration platforms. Microsegmentation provides internal control of traffic within the data center and can greatly enhance a data center’s security posture. Cisco ACI is the only solution available today that enables true microsegmentation with the performance, scalability, and visibility that modern applications demand.

Application Leaders Embrace ACI

New ACI Ecosystem partners using the northbound open APIs of the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller in ACI allow the automation of entire application suites, Software-as-a-Service, and Platform-as-a-Service for application development teams creating applications to engage with their enterprise’s customers in new and valuable ways. These partners integrate or monitor applications, cloud management platforms, security and application policy across compute, network, and storage infrastructure for distributed applications.  Hear from some of these leaders directly in the video here.

app leaders embrace ACI Read More »

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UCS M-Series and Citrix XenApp Bare Metal Deployments

If you are one of the 330,000 organizations using Citrix XenApp (or if you are considering it) you need to consider Cisco’s UCS M-Series modular servers.

What are M-Series modular servers? M-Series servers are composable infrastructure that disaggregates storage and networking from the CPU/memory complex allowing workloads to be optimally matched to resources. An ideal workload for the M142 compute cartridge is Citrix XenApp. The M142 cartridge has two Intel Xeon E3 servers meaning a single 2RU M4308 chassis has 16 servers!

Cisco recently published a CVD (Cisco Validated Design) for Citrix XenApp 7.6 on M-Series. A CVD is a tested, documented, reference architecture to provide a cookbook for customers. This allows customers faster, reliable, and predictable deployments.

Cisco UCS M-Series with Citrix XenApp 7.6 Physical Server Deployment features the Intel Xeon E3-1275L v3 processors with 32GB per server. Amazingly this modest processor / memory combination supports 60 remote desktop session users or 960 users in 2RU!

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Want to Empower your Digital Enterprise – Join Cisco at the Gartner Data Center Conference 2015, Vegas

The year 2015 has been a very busy year for Cisco Data center Business Units. We are very pleased to end the year on a high note with the Gartner Data Center Conference at the Venetian, Dec 7-9.  As in previous years, this year’s conference offers attendees a number of exciting sessions and tracks on Data Center Infrastructure and Operations, what’s next in Virtualization, Cloud computing, SDN and other focus areas.

gartner

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Top 3 Ways New ACI Innovations Improve Your Data Center

Yesterday, Cisco announced a new software release for ACI. If you are looking to automate IT, or build out your cloud environment, and want to do so in an open fashion that provides a lot of flexibility – then you’ll probably be interested.

Why? The new ACI release:

  1. Makes managing and securing your cloud environment easier;
  2. Provides openness, expanding customer choice; and
  3. Delivers operational flexibility

OK, so what does this actually mean?

  1. Makes managing and securing your cloud environment easier

Three of the most popular cloud management tools include Microsoft Azure Pack, OpenStack and VMware vRealize. Earlier this year, we announced Windows Azure Pack ACI integration. With this new ACI release, we integrate ACI with OpenStack and vRealize, as well. (More details are here.) So this means that if you need to, say, provision a virtual workload in vCenter, ACI automagically orchestrates things to match computing resources and networking infrastructure.  So, you can enjoy the policy based automation and all the other benefits of ACI regardless of which of these tools you use to manage your cloud environment.

This also means OpenStack users can now create and manage their own virtual networks, extending ACI policy directly into the hypervisor with a hardware-accelerated, fully distributed OpenStack networking solution – the only one available that integrates both physical and virtual environments.

To more easily and completely secure these environments, the new release provides micro-segmentation support for VMware VDS, Microsoft Hyper-V virtual switch, and bare-metal endpoints. Essentially, this means more granular enforcement of security policies.   These can be based on numerous different criteria relevant to attributes associated with the network, e.g. IP address, or the virtual machine, e.g. VM identifier, Name, etc. There are additional capabilities that can, for example, disable communication between devices within a policy group (intra EPG, for those more familiar with ACI) – useful in thwarting lateral expansion of attacks.

  1. Provides openness, expanding customer choice

Piggybacking off some comments above, it’s worth noting that since ACI’s inception, one of its differentiators has been the ability to integrate physical servers as well as virtual machines, and to apply policy consistently across them. Well, now there’s a new kid on the block, as the industry observes an increasingly popular trend to use containers as another way of operating applications.   As part of this announcement, we are extending ACI support to include Docker containers, in addition to VM’s and bare metal servers. This is done by using Project Contiv, which is an open source project that has a Docker network plugin allowing, among other things, automatic configuration of Docker hosts to integrate with ACI. Check out details on this video and/or this white paper. Network Computing commented here, that:

“Given all the hubbub in the industry over Docker, ACI’s new Docker container support is noteworthy.”

Another way this new release is driving openness and providing more choice for customers is around L4-7 services. ACI now supports service insertion and chaining for any service device.  So, customers can leverage their existing model of deploying and operating their L4-L7 device, while automating the network connectivity. This is in addition to, not instead of, the device package model, which provides for more comprehensive ‘soup to nuts’ automation. Speaking of which, as part of this announcement, several new partners also joined the ACI Ecosystem. This video provides some insight into how some of them automate your applications.

  1. Delivers operational flexibility

The new release has a number of tools that create more flexible operating environments. A quick rundown includes the multi-site app, which enables policy-driven automation across multiple datacenters, providing enhanced application mobility and disaster recovery. In short, this means you can run ACI in 2 different data centers, and extend the policy across them. Other tools provide the ability to do configuration rollback, as well as NX-OS Style CLI. This is for the CLI junkie that wants to run the entire ACI fabric as a single switch. There are some other cool nuggets in here as well, like a heat map that provides real-time visibility into system health.

Clayton Weise, Director of Cloud Services at KeyInfo, summed it up best when he said:

“ACI is the direction we’re going to go because it gives us the best flexibility.” (Read the entire Network World story here.)

In summary, this new release adds capabilities that will help you more effectively manage and secure your cloud environment, as well as leverage the benefits of both openness and operational flexibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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