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.
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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:
- Makes managing and securing your cloud environment easier;
- Provides openness, expanding customer choice; and
- Delivers operational flexibility
OK, so what does this actually mean?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Tags: #CiscoACI, #ciscodatacenter, ACI, API, cloud, Cloud Computing, containers, data center, docker, L4-7 Services, Linux Containers, Open, SDN, security
This past week I attended the 2015 Gartner Data Center Conference in London. This is always a great conference to learn from, although it always pays to look out for some of the hype too. There were key note presentations from the sprinter Michael Johnson and from previous UK government Vince Cable, which presented a rather concerning potential scenario of how the economies of the UK and Europe could evolve over the next few years. The IT topics covered ranges from Bi-modal IT to DevOps to Software Asset Management (SAM) to SDN to Cloud and IT Operations Management (ITOM). Here are some of my key learnings, in this “part 1”, comprising a few observations, and a sceptical view of some of the hype that I came across.
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Tags: #CiscoACI, ACI, applications, architectural approach, bimodal IT, cloud, Cloud Consumption Services, gartner data center conference, resilience, SDN, Shadow IT, software asset management
I had the distinct pleasure to meet Stephen Sorkin, Chief Strategy Officer for Splunk and talk to him about his views on the challenges enterprises face as they adapt to the mobile, social, cloud, and big data changes happening with their customers, competitors, and industry. The recording below is the result of our discussion. Stephen talks about the new connected environment where the end user experience is defined by the full stack running in the data center or the cloud. There are components like the underlying bare metal, the hypervisor, the network, the storage that all have to be tied together in order to understand what the user’s experience is really going to be like.
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Tags: analytics, Cisco ACI, data center operations, Splunk Enterprise
There is no denying it cloud has moved beyond buzzword and become a key foundation element for over 40% of enterprise organizational strategies. Making the decision to “go cloud” is the easy part. Figuring out how to optimize and deliver on your cloud strategy is another discussion.
The “first wave to cloud” was focused on operational and service delivery measures such as reducing IT operational costs and improving organizational delivery to meet SLAs. However, just when you thought you had a handle on these measures, here comes the second wave of cloud.
Reducing operational costs and improving SLAs has become minimum requirements just to get a seat at the table. Being a “player” in the cloud market requires broader impact across the organization and more strategic measures of business success: innovation and increased revenue growth.
If you would like to learn more, read the latest thought leadership piece on CIO.com.
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Tags: Cisco Business Cloud Advisor, Cisco cloud, cloud strategy, Hybrid Cloud, private cloud, Public Cloud