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Cisco Continues to Support Application Virtual Switch for Application Centric Infrastructure in vSphere Deployments

Cisco Application Virtual Switch (AVS), a virtual member of the Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) family has seen increasing interest from customers who want to enforce application centric policies all the way to the virtual edge of the data center.

Cisco AVS is a derivative of the Nexus 1000V virtual switch, which is the market leading 3rd party virtual switch in the industry.   Nexus 1000V has accumulated more than 10,000 customers and has been deployed in large-scale service providers to large enterprises. Recently Cisco announced Nexus 1000V support for vSphere 6.0 releases. VMware has also announced to continue supporting Cisco Nexus 1000V in vSphere 6.0 and later releases.

VMware has supported and re-sold Nexus 1000V since we jointly launched the product. Recently (Feb 2nd 2015) VMware has announced that they will stop re-selling product/support for Nexus 1000V. Cisco will continue to sell and support Nexus 1000V for all customers.

Cisco AVS uses exactly the same vSphere APIs that the Nexus 1000V uses. Cisco AVS has always been supported by Cisco since the launch of ACI and will continue to be supported by Cisco. Currently, ACI with Cisco AVS is supported in vSphere 5.1 and vSphere 5.5 releases. With the latest release 5.2(1)SV3(1.5), Cisco AVS supports the Data Center Micro Segmentation delivered by the ACI. We plan to release vSphere 6.0 support for ACI with Cisco AVS later in second half of CY 2015. Cisco is committed to deliver on the strong customer interest in Cisco AVS and have multiple successful production deployments of Cisco AVS with ACI across our customer install base.

Customers who use either Cisco Nexus 1000V or Cisco AVS are assured that Cisco will continue to innovate and support these products via Cisco Support channel.

To ease adoption, Cisco AVS product and support is included as part of the Cisco ACI product and support agreement. No additional services or products need to be purchased.

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My take on the integrated infrastructure buzz

I recently created a playlist of my favorite 80’s, 90’s and current songs. Listening to the playlist in shuffle mode, I noticed the stark contrast and evolution of the recording quality from the old classics to the current stuff.

Thank you Pink Floyd and Apple

I have to admit that the quality does get progressively better overtime, but in some cases tunes just sounded over-engineered, especially on the digitally recorded tracks. As good as they may sound, they often lack the warmth of reel-to-reel tape deck recordings. I am sure someone is busy developing an app to fix that.

The Tres Virgo Recording Studio – 1980’s style with owner Robin Yeager

The Tres Virgo Recording Studio – 1980’s style with owner Robin Yeager

It actually makes me wonder how some artists are able to pull some of those over-engineered studio songs off on a live stage, and some do a great job. But these days, concerts are as much about the show, not just the music – thank you Pink Flyod for setting a trend.

Pink Flyod Live – Earls Court, London 1994

Awesomeness: Pink Flyod Live – Earls Court, London 1994

But I digress: what digital allows you to do is fix stuff in the mix with a simple mouse click, versus having to re-record part of, or all of the tracks. That is time and money saving stuff. It is streamlined sound engineering workflows at it’s best.

And it has opened up a whole world of possibilities for recording artists, including making mediocre ones sound pretty amazing. In fact, anyone with Garage Band installed on a MAC (and some talent) can sound pretty good these days. Thank you Apple.

Is your data center stuck in the tape-deck age?

Similar evolution has occurred in data centers around the globe. An IT environment of disparate servers, storage, and networking systems all managed in silos is a thing of the past. Or is it?

The unfortunate reality for many organizations is that their data centers are stuck in the tape deck age and associated laborious workflows. The result is that much of today’s IT budget is still being consumed by keeping the data centers humming along. That comes at the expense of real innovation.

It’s no surprise that in today’s connected-everything world, businesses and organizations off all sizes rely heavily on IT. And in that world, you need an infrastructure that is up to the task: an environment that is agile, secure and simple to manage with few resources.

Once you have that in place, your talented IT folks can turn their attention to focusing on real innovation that can lead to tangible business outcomes, rather than just keeping the lights on – just as talented musicians should focus on the music.

So what a novel idea to have an environment that combines compute, storage and networking into a pre-validated, fully integrated design that can be centrally managed? Enter the idea of integrated infrastructure. By no means is this a new concept. After all, many vendors now claim they deliver integrated infrastructure. Or can they?

I can’t speak for other vendors, but can say that Cisco has teamed up with the best in the industry to deliver pre-validated (so you know it will work together), integrated systems.

And they work just as advertised. I recently discovered this when I picked up my personal hardcopy of Unleashing IT.

I was delighted when my hardcopy of Unleashing IT arrived in the mail

I was delighted when my hardcopy of Unleashing IT arrived in the mail

This edition dedicated to discussing the various Integrated Infrastructure flavors available today from Cisco and it’s eco-system of partners. It profiles businesses and organizations much like yours that are reaping the business benefits.

I encourage you to take a moment to subscribe, download the pdf or get your personal hardcopy shipped to you, and let me know what you think.

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ACI Delivered Operational Simplicity at Cisco Live San Diego

Much of the discussion about Cisco ACI has been about accelerating the deployment of applications across infrastructure – defined by application needs and driven by policy.  There is another powerful benefit from ACI for the datacenter network administrators of today who are stretched thin trying to debug outages or respond to concerns about poor application performance. For all of them, the latest release of ACI software, Brahmaputra or APIC 1.1(1j) and NX-OS 11.1(1j), provides exciting new enhancements for managing, monitoring, and troubleshooting data center infrastructure.

ACI’s Brahmaputra release adds significant operations support in the form of:

  • Pro-active tooling: ACI tools such as iTraceroute, iPing, health scores and atomic counters work to eliminate downtime. Users can work before issues become user detectable to identify and resolve issues. Configurations can be validated prior to deployment.
  • Re-active tooling: When issues do occur in a production datacenter, users need to have the right tools available to resolve them.

Functional Brahmaputra

For the ACI engineering and product team extensive software release notes, go to these links

APIC 1.1 and NX-OS R 11.1.

During Cisco Live San Diego, there were a number of sessions covering these new capabilities to address “what can ACI do for me today?”. The answer is directly addressed by the benefits centralized management, monitoring and troubleshooting can deliver when you view and operate the entire fabric as a single system.

If you need help dealing with the complexity of  today’s non-application centric data centers,  I recommend that you take in the following Cisco Live sessions that highlight the simplified troubleshooting and centralized operational benefits of ACI which network operations teams can benefit from immediately, improving their productivity and speeding up remediation for application problems.

BRCACI-2102 ACI Troubleshooting

BRKACI-1502 Simplify Operations with ACI

PSODCT-2455 Simplify Day 0, 1, and 2 Operations in Application Centric Data Centers

Docker and the Rise of Microservices

Over the past 18 months, we’ve been witnessing a rapid transformation in the way applications are built, packaged, shipped, deployed, and instantiated.  This change has been driven by developer demands for simplicity and a shift in focus towards an application-centric view of IT.     To find evidence of this trend, look no further than the skyrocketing popularity of Docker and the movement towards microservice based architectures for running applications.

You could think of microservices as a service oriented architecture built around independently deployable, loosely coupled software components.  By providing the infrastructure to build, ship and run these services, Docker has become one of the most important open source infrastructure projects in the world today.

Why are microservices and Docker so important?  Well, we’re witnessing a bit of a Darwinian process occur at an extremely fast pace in the cloud world today.    Tools that offer benefits in simplicity, speed, scale, and flexibility to applications developers succeed while others fall out of favor.  Docker does an amazing job at shrinking build, test, and deployment cycles and providing a means of separating the functions of infrastructure, platform, and application teams through microservices.  Some of the largest web scale companies in the world have already proven this works and now the challenge remains in bringing more generally into the enterprise environment.

This transition is extremely exciting and creates a number of opportunities for Cisco in the datacenter.  While this is far from an exhaustive list, I wanted to highlight some of the key ones we are seeing.

  1.  Deliver scalable, manageable infrastructure optimized for microservice architectures.  We can make it extremely easy for users to use our UCS, Nexus, and Application-Centric Infrastructure to build turnkey environments with the network, compute, and storage performance and scale they require.
  1. Develop application and operational intent frameworks that leverage Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).  Cisco ACI and its application-centric policy language are a perfect fit for Docker and microservice architectures.  The policy language offers the simplicity and the separation of infrastructure requirements that developers are seeking.  Our team is also contributing to the open source community to accelerate the adoption of policy as well.
  1. Help our customers deploy Docker and microservices alongside the environments and tools they already run today.  As Cisco, it is incumbent on us to help provide the unified management tools and infrastructure to offer onramps to this new technology, allowing it to run alongside legacy environments.
  1. Carry out the organizational changes needed to take advantage of microservices.  As Docker and microservices enable greater separation between infrastructure and apps teams, Cisco can play a major role in training over 2 million Cisco-certified professionals to lead this transformation.
  1. Bringing microservices to the network gear itself.  We already allow users to run container-based services directly on our Nexus switches so they can begin to leverage some of the same approaches that are appearing in the computing environment.

So, even at a glance, the rise of Docker containers and microservices creates a tremendous set of opportunities for innovation.  We’re particularly excited about libnetwork, the new Docker network plugin framework, which will be a critical point of integration for Cisco.  Its also an incredibly reassuring and healthy sign that the Docker community is committed to being open and responsive to the needs of its users.

We have already started using this framework to connect Docker with a breadth of networking technology and offer the seamless integration our customers need.   In particular, we have created the Contiv project as an a generic network clustering plugin which integrates with Docker’s libnetwork and we’re excited to work with the community around it.
As we’ve seen over the past year, Docker and microservices more generally are well on their journey to transforming the datacenter.  We’d love to see you help us by joining in the open source development of Contiv or Docker directly or by reaching out to your account teams to learn more about Cisco solutions for containers.

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Cisco and Red Hat at the Center of IT Transformation

summit_logo_170The open hybrid-cloud and big data are at the center of the IT transformation that will enable every business, country, and city to become a digital and technology organization. Cisco and Red Hat share a common vision for the future of IT. That’s why Cisco is going big at the Red Hat Summit, which kicks off June 23rd in Boston. It’s going to be a great week of conversations with IT professionals who are harnessing open source innovation across their businesses and organizations to deliver new models of IT.

I’m especially looking forward to the opening general session with Red Hat CEO, Jim Whitehurst and Satinder Sethi Cisco VP of Data Center and Cloud Solutions. I’m sure these two industry luminaries will have keen insights into the market transitions and IT innovations that put the data center at the heart of digital transformation.

Of course, the Cisco team will be busy with an action packed agenda of sessions and demos. Plan to make the Cisco booth your hub in the Red Hat Summit Partner Pavilion. Our mini-theater will feature non-stop tech talks that span OpenStack, Group Based Policy, Big Data and Developer Programs. Every visitor to the Cisco booth will leave with an ultra-cool Cisco hat.

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