At the most recent Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas, after some insightful discussions with customers and analysts, we came up with a great demo idea and proof point that highlights a key feature in our Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) platform. This particular demo centers on the unique visibility of the ACI Fabric to faults in the underlying physical network.
Joe Onisick, Principal Engineer in the ACI team at Cisco, compares this ability in ACI to SDN technologies that employ only virtual overlay networks in the following video. With overlay networks, such as a VXLAN tunnel, the resulting virtual network (and all the management and analytics tools) has a much harder time isolating faults within the physical infrastructure. The overlay is designed to “tunnel” through the physical network, simplifying and obscuring the physical topology and issues with any specific network node. Before going much further, I’ll let Joe provide the details in this quick, 3 minute video:
On January 13th, 2015, Cisco will celebrate the 1-year anniversary of its launch of Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), a ground breaking SDN architecture. It will include a public webcast with the participation of early ACI adopters and our ecosystems partners. One of these inaugural partners was Splunk, the Operational Intelligence company for all types of IT organizations. At the webcast, Splunk and other partners will describe a range of new solutions with ACI, that dramatically simplify Data Center operations. Here is a preview of Splunk’s solution.
A large portion of the data center operational effort is consumed in managing application health. This includes:
Ensuring the end-user experience for distributed users with different types of performance needs
Discovering the physical and virtual resources associated with applications and the user experience
Detailed monitoring of resources and events in the infrastructure that affect application performance
These activities have become more complex as applications have become distributed, interconnected or cloud based because they cause applications to move, scale and evolve rapidly.
Splunk Enterprise can monitor and analyze millions of infrastructure events through logs and agents, in real-time. This can provide rapid visibility and isolation of infrastructure that affect application performance. Cisco has been collaborating with Splunk to combine the application visibility of Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure with operational analytics of Splunk Enterprise. The result is “Cisco ACI for Splunk Enterprise” a highly scalable application that is orderable immediately at Splunk.com.
ACI and Splunk have enabled a comprehensive view of application health with the ability to monitor the entire end-to-end environment in real time and proactively prevent issues from impacting end users.
ACI provides visibility to application health from the network perspective by tracking all network dependencies and events that impact application performance and security. Splunk complements Cisco ACI by bringing actionable intelligence across the entire data center infrastructure including storage, compute, virtualization endpoints, as well as application tiers and components provided by ACI. Splunk’s analytical and visualization tools provide real-time insights to data center teams to optimize performance and ensure security policies in a highly dynamic environment.
How does it work
Cisco ACI exposes a wealth of networking data previously inaccessible to Splunk. The Cisco ACI app for Splunk Enterprise gathers data from APIC (Application Policy Infrastructure Controller) including APIC network events, health scores and inventory of logical constructs (e.g. tenants, application profiles, end point groups) and physical constructs ( e.g spines, leafs, VMs).
This data is used to:
Reduce resolution time with accelerated root-cause analysis
Splunk enables users to reduce the mean time to investigate/resolve problems up to 70%
Centralized management of operational health of ACI environment & underlying entities in real-time
Detect issues or anomalies in performance or response times and proactively resolve
For multiple tenants, quickly navigate to the source of problems using flexible per-role views, including 1) Help Desk view, 2) Tenant View and 3) Fabric view
Provide Central Proactive Monitoring of Cisco ACI
Get real-time proactive notification of network traffic and device faults with location, affected objects.
Track trends and anticipate application impact
Operational Analytics across the entire virtual and physical infrastructure
Optimize network capacity and prevent service deterioration with detailed visibility into fabric path degradation.
Meet compliance/security with user analytics, including authentication tracking reports.
Correlate data from Cisco ACI with data from storage resources, operating systems, applications, security devices, endpoint and more for enterprise-wide visibility.
Trace and monitor transactions through all tiers of a distributed application architecture
Gives application managers a perspective on the underlying Cisco ACI infrastructure’s effect on applications without being directly involved in ACI Ops.
Monitor key operational metrics such as end-to-end response times to ensure SLAs met.
As an example, a Fortune 100 company is using Splunk with ACI:
for operational visibility for their ACI cluster with ability to quickly identify faults and troublesome tenants and determine corrective action.
to provide centralized visibility as ACI expands across multiple data centers and for proactive monitoring to establish baselines and triggered alerts when key thresholds exceeded.
This approach to Application Health is part of the broader discipline of Application Performance Management (APM). According to Gartner, “By 2018, 60% of APM deployments will use and integrate data extracted directly from log files alongside wire data and agent-derived data as a foundation for reporting, prediction, and analysis, up from less than 5% today.” With our collaboration, ACI for Splunk Enterprise provides important new capabilities for Application Performance Management.
It is but just a year since Cisco announced its acquisition of Insieme Networks and the Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) approach for Data Center SDN deployments. The promise was to bring a simpler, highly automated and secure data center taking a policy-driven approach.
Now, with more than double the number of APIC customers, over 900 Nexus 9000 Customers, and nearly 35 Ecosystem Partners, this promise is fast becoming a reality. Nothing can be more real than customers willing to speak of their deployments and of the benefits they are beginning to derive in a tangible manner, or of ecosystem partners willing to integrate into an open architecture and indulge in joint go-to-market activities.
Today we’d like to invite you to a set of special webcasts where you can hear the perspectives of different organizations on how Application Centric Infrastructure transforms IT
You’ll also hear from ACI Ecosystem Partners and how their solutions integrate to help customize and extend ACI deployments leveraging the open architecture, and how joint customers are benefiting from multi-vendor innovation.
Have a bit of free time this Wednesday morning? If so please feel free to sit in on a Cisco keynote delivered by Mark Balch, Director of Cisco UCS Product Management, as he outlines the challenges faced and the discoveries made with the UCS family and how it has driven revolutionary change and business benefits for today’s modern datacenter.
The Cisco keynote starts WindowsITPro’s “virtual trade show” on Optimizing Your Virtual Infrastructure”. The event brings top industry Microsoft experts together in an online forum affording attendees the opportunity to learn about key datacenter optimization topics and trends.
Our UCS family has been a leader in Data Center optimization since it’s initial release to market five years ago. Having been designed for virtualization from the beginning, UCS is an integrated system that is configured through unified, model-based management to simplify deployment of enterprise-class applications and services running in bare-metal, virtualized, and cloud-computing environments.
My final observation from my days at the London Gartner Data Center Conference is related to SDN and ease of network management – or otherwise. Hopefully this discussion will give you some ideas for good questions to ask at the Las Vegas conference, which is running as I write this.
Cisco UCS on show at the Gartner Data Center Conference
Before I start, if you are at the conference in Las Vegas, please do take time out to visit the Cisco stand #305 to find out more onCisco solutions including Unified Computing and ACI. Also take some time to say hello to our with new, exciting team members from our Metacloud acquisition – it’s fantastic to have such OpenStack and DevOps expertise in particular part of the Cisco team.
To catch up on my earlier questions, see my part 1 and part 2 blogs – questions you can ask at any SDN conference or of any vendor, since this blog series is not just about the Gartner conference. Now on to more SDN questions to ask ….