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Cisco ACI with OpenStack at Redhat Summit – A perfect Pairing

Last week at Redhat Summit in San Francisco, Cisco Data center was well represented in speaking sessions, and solutions expo. I saw lots of traffic at our demo booth featuring Cisco ACI with OpenStack. Customers and Partners alike, showed great interest in how Cisco APIC integrates with OpenStack and enriches Data center operations. We showed the powerful capabilities of Cisco’s Neutron plug-in implementation and how workflow functions like, “create network”, “create subnets and vlan”, “create security groups”, etc. can be elegantly accomplished from the Open Stack console and aligned with the APIC object model via the APIC-Open Stack  API integration. View Demo here: http://youtu.be/pWMXTb237Vk

ACI with OpenStack demo

ACI with OpenStack demo

We also presented in two sessions one titled “Deploying OpenStack with Cisco networking, compute, & storage” and the other  “Automating Red Hat Enterprise Linux deployments with Cisco ACI & OpenStack”. We talked about plans to introduce the group policy model from ACI into OpenStack so that  DevOps teams and NetOps teams can streamline and automate their work while focusing on application and tenant needs at a policy level.

Ravi_DeCapite_t_0450_OpenStack_with_Cisco

The benefit will be that the Group Policy Plugin provides APIs to build Application Network Profiles including service chain requirements.  Both OVS and the ACI Fabric then implement the full policy including distributed L2, L3, and security.   ACI also allows customers to separate tenant polices from operation.  The Tenants manage their applications while the ACI admin manages network operations and infrastructure using policy and it’s all done with automation that speeds up your OpenStack operations.

There was also strong interest in the OpFlex protocol, which Cisco announced at Interop a few weeks ago and how it opens up the ACI policy framework to a broad eco-system. We had lots of other demos showing our Open Stack integration, from a UCS, Nexus 1k, UCS Director stand-point, to round off a 360 degree view of our commitment to broad industry initiatives.

I want to shift focus now to two cool videos recorded last week, by the dynamic team of Joe Onisick and Lilian Quan from the Insieme Business Unit, at Cisco. Joe emphasizes “traffic flows within the ACI Fabric, and application of policy”, while Lilian covers the magic behind how “traffic is handled within the ACI fabric” with emphasis on re-route, bounce, ARP flooding avoidance, etc.,

Stay tuned for more videos on the ACI Fabric mode in near future. We also have a slew of whitepapers coming up that will cover the APIC/ACI Fabric innovations. Check out the recently posted APIC Policy Model whitepaper  that walks you through the basics of the object oriented policy model, Spine-Leaf network architecture and its benefits, APIC policy enforcement, Unicast/Multi-cast policy enforcement, concept of end-point groups (EPG) and all related concepts that you would find extremely valuable as you consider a policy based network architecture for your Data center needs.

I will be covering more exciting news on the ACI front, as we approach Cisco Live San Francisco. Stay tuned

Reference Links

APIC Policy Model whitepaper http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/data-center-virtualization/application-centric-infrastructure/white-paper-c11-731310.html

OpFlex -- An Open policy protocol http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/data-center-virtualization/application-centric-infrastructure/white-paper-c11-731304.html

OpFlex -- An open source approach http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/data-center-virtualization/application-centric-infrastructure/white-paper-c11-731303.html

(ACI-OpenStack demo) http://youtu.be/fYQDvKVg-ag

(Opflex announcement) http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/introducing-opflex-a-new-standards-based-protocol-for-application-centric-infrastructure/

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ACI enables a world class Service Oriented IT organization

April 16, 2014 at 11:00 am PST

Private Clouds are fundamentally challenging how modern data centers are acquiring and consuming IT.  Nearly half of large enterprises polled[1] have deployed a private cloud, its reasonable to say organizations are tackling head-on the key concerns of designing, building and deploying a private cloud today. The top challenges are security of data, control and efficient delivery of applications as cloud services; need to be compliant, need for in-house expertise and added upfront costs. Added to the challenges is the network that is becoming the remaining bottleneck to business agility after everything else gets virtualized and automated. SDN is the key component[2] of any cloud computing strategy in making IT more agile and, therefore, more responsive to the needs of the business.

At our April 2 webcast,  New Applications Are Knocking: Is your Data Center OPEN for Business?, we explored insights from ACI ecosystem vendors and customers that are addressing these challenges using the Nexus 9000, cloud orchestration, and the open capabilities of ACI.

Cisco Customer Insights Panel - April 2, 2014

Cisco Customer Insights Panel -- April 2, 2014

At that event, Chuck Crane, Lead Networking and Security Architect at Acxiom, shared the accelerating pace that his team is expected to deploy infrastructure in – from weeks down to  hours with an astounding 20,000 network and security changes in their cloud infrastructure per year.

His DevOps teams are accelerating their deployment cycles from six months down to two week sprints so the IT organization must deliver new infrastructure services almost instantly.  Chuck and the other customer discussions can be found at the 40 minute mark in this video of the event.

Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI)  solves not only the technical challenges but also delivers the operational, service-level, and financial business improvements that help organizations become world class service oriented IT organizations.  ACI gives IT leaders the ability to manage even the most complex private cloud environments more easily and transparently.

The architecture provides a common programmable automation and management framework for network, application, security, and virtualization teams.   This framework makes IT more agile while reducing application deployment time.  In short, Cisco ACI enables a world class service oriented IT organization by coordinating application, network and security teams to maximize the benefits of a policy-driven data center that support open, standard controller APIs to maximize flexibility and minimize lock-in. In other words, ACI enables the IT to be more strategic in streamlining the IT resources and to act like an internal service provider, essentially “running IT as a business”.

Related:

Introducing OpFlex – A new standards-based protocol for Application Centric Infrastructure

The Promise of an Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI)

Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) Includes Strong Partner Ecosystem for Security and Network Services

The Dynamic Security Model of Cisco ACI (video)

Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI): Application Network Profiles for Security and Network Services


[1] Gartner, Private Cloud Matures, Hybrid Cloud Is Next, Analyst: Thomas J. Bittman

[2] Top 10 Technology Trends, 2013: Cloud Computing and Hybrid IT Drive Future IT Models, 6 February 2013, David W. Cearley, Donna Scott, Joe Skorupa, Thomas J. Bittman

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Summary : The “Next Gen ” Network Engineer

April 15, 2014 at 4:34 pm PST

The industry has been buzzing over the past years around Next Generation of Software Defined and Application Centric networks. If you missed that, it means that you were probably on planet …Zircon  (?).

Colin LynchIn his recent blog, Colin Lynch  @UCSguru and Cisco Champion  talks about the skills that network engineers will need in order to design, support and deploy these new networks.
Colin designs and deploys large data centers for a Gold Partner in the UK, and is CCIE#7064 as well as holding certifications in VMware, EMC and NetApp. His Blog is http://ucsguru.com which covers all Datacenter topics but focuses on Cisco UCS.  Recently Colin participated to a lively Cisco Champion  podcast with Insieme/Cisco Joe Onisick  @jonisick  on ACI and Nexus 9000.

When recognizing that the traditional networks will not go away overnight , giving ample room for people with the current skill sets, Colin explains what he sees happening, and the course of actions he already took . “I’m certainly no programmer, but I see having basic programming competency as the next skill required to remain in that band of “High Demand” networking professionals.”  A reality that many other network engineers start to embrace

CommonwealthClubA reality that Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior  @padmasree emphasized at a recent NPR broadcast for the Commonwealth Club of California, as she highlighted the importance for the new generation of  professionals to learn a programming language . Listen to Padmasree’s  speech  on “The Business of Innovation : Today and Tomorrow”

Without necessary being amongst those who tend to think “that not being able to code could well be the next definition of literacy” as Colin questions  in his blog , more and more network engineers seems to take this steps , including Bill Carter @billyc5022 , who shared also  his new skill sets in a recent blog  Cisco is bringing together networking and programming  .

To better understand Colin’s point of view and discover what are his first steps to be ready for this new breed of networks,  read his blog  The “Next Gen” Network Engineer”  . Tell us what are your first steps , if any.

You may want also to check this video with Colin debating with Hal Rotenberg @harl9000 on the very same topic  ”ACI and Traditional Networking”

 

 

 

 

 

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Interop Redux: Focus on Virtual L4-7 Services with Embrane

April 14, 2014 at 5:30 am PST

Our recap of Interop 2014 continues with a focus on Cisco technology partner Embrane, who focuses on integration of layer 4-7 virtual services into cloud and data center networks, including its own virtual load balancer, firewall and VPN. Embrane describes its heleos platform and heleos Elastic Services Manager (ESM) solution as a virtual services lifecycle manager and orchestration engine, based on the ability to provision virtual security instances in minutes, automatically insert them in the network, assign rules and policies to a specific application, enable self-healing high availability (HA), and automate the licensing and usage monitoring for each virtual appliance.

Embrane was part of Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) ecosystem at our initial launch last November, and at this most recent Interop also came out and endorsed ACI’s OpFlex protocol, which handles communication between network devices and the APIC controller. Embrane also recently announced the ability to provide its lifecycle management services to Cisco’s virtual security platforms, both the ASAv and Sourcefire. I had the chance to catch up with Embrane Founder, Dante Malagrino, in the Cisco booth at Interop and get a little deeper understanding of how Cisco is working with Embrane in these areas.

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Cisco Intercloud Provides a Platform for Application Enablement and Innovation

 

Over the past weeks, Cisco Cloud Services  introduce a global Intercloud .  Today I’d like to explain how Cisco Intercloud provides a platform for Cisco, ISVs, and partners application enablement and innovation.

Infrastructure as service (IaaS) is a very small part of the overall cloud adaption requirements needed to enable business agility, growth, and transformation. This is an area that service providers and Telcos have been trying to optimize with traditional BSS, OSS, and provisioning systems over the last several years. The overall market for cloud in these providers is very small and not growing quickly due to their lack of development and application enablement in the physical and virtual layers. These layers are becoming commodity capabilities and not easy to differentiate business capabilities on without adding tremendous cost from enterprise software and advanced services. Even with this added cost, enterprises are failing to transform because basic IaaS is a very small part of their overall business needs.

IaaS

This is not to say that IaaS does not matter. Where IaaS matters is their efficiency and platform capabilities that enable businesses to innovate seamlessly. In addition, cost models and SLA are very important to businesses.
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