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Acxiom uses ACI to transform their private cloud

Acxiom is a well-known Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company providing data analytics and data processing solutions to Fortune 100 companies for running and analyzing their marketing campaigns.  Recently Cisco spoke to Acxiom’s senior managers Kamal Kharrat, and Chuck Crane, about Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) strategy and how it helps them address their Data Center challenges. In this blog, I will present a brief summary of our discussions. Acxiom is experiencing exponential growth in its customer base, running millions of transactions every week in their hybrid-cloud based data centers.  But this growth has brought in its wake several challenges. Acxiom stores confidential, compliance driven data in their private data center infrastructure, and is currently facing elastic scalability problems. Second, they want to transition from a high CAPEX, fixed infrastructure utilization model towards a dynamic model, in which workloads can be seamlessly moved across the private and public infrastructures. Besides, Axciom has a heteregenous mix of L4-L7 vendor devices, multi-hypervisor and security systems and has a pressing need for an open, policy based extensible foundation for their AOS SAAS to bring these services together.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Acxiom is excited to consider Cisco ACI as the best solution to address these problems and are looking to automate their compute, storage and security infrastructure provisioning and achieve the elasticity requirements in their private cloud similar to what they are achieving in the public cloud.  Also, Acxiom plans to move the workloads in and out of compute and storage platforms while changing the security zones on-demand increasing the resource utilization to upwards of 80%.  Mr. Chuck Crane is quick to point out that Acxiom makes more than 20,000 network and security configuration changes every year and feels the only way to keep up with the growing customer base is to eliminate the labor intensive man-hours and costs that go with them, and hopes to achieve significant reduction in these inefficient processes via automation. He says ACI is the key to arm the network operations to automate the operations and ultimately attain the competitive advantage of agile IT resulting in faster time to market and capitalizing new revenue opportunities.

Today, depending on the solution, it takes about 7 days to 3 weeks for a full provisioning of the resources and the goal is to bring the provisioning time down to hours. With ACI, they say, Acxiom aims to achieve 24-hour turnaround in end-end infrastructure  provisioning for application deployments Acxiom will realize a significant reduction in OPEX with this automation.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Last, let us look at how ACI’s Openness helps Acxiom’s data center operations. When looking at repatriating an application (Figure 2) into a private data center, one of the critical challenges is the ability to port the same tools and automation from the public to the private cloud and the network infrastructure is a critical layer in realizing this goal. The open standards based ACI helps Acxiom to use their existing tools and expertise in working across public and private clouds in building infrastructure quickly and achieving the business goals of faster time to market resulting in increased revenue potential.

In conclusion, the Acxiom executives assert that ACI allows their private datacenters to integrate best of breed technologies with their existing infrastructure and achieve full automation seamlessly using service stitching from compute through load balancing through the security platforms – all from a single point of control. This helps Acxiom to optimize costs, reduce turnaround times and at the same time work seamlessly across private and public clouds.

Related:

Acxiom Executives share customer insights on Application Centric Infrastructure (video)

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)

New Applications Are Knocking: Is your Data Center OPEN for Business? (video)

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

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#EngineersUnplugged S5|Ep9: Why ACI?

In this week’s episode of Engineers Unplugged, Jim French (@CiscoJimFrench) and Bill Gurling (@vDingus) talk about Why ACI in the modern data center.

Abstract the Unicorns!

Abstract the Unicorns!

This is Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:

  1. Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
  2. Subscribe to the podcast here: engineersunplugged.com
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

Join the behind the scenes by liking Engineers Unplugged on Facebook.

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What is Infrastructure Programmability?

The programming of network resources is not just a trend, but also a way to future-proof IT and business needs.

This blog series examines how infrastructure programmability is providing a faster time to competitive advantage and highlights the differences between programmable infrastructure and traditional infrastructure, and what programmability means for your entire IT infrastructure.

To read the second post in this series that discusses benefits of network programmability, click here. To read the third post in this series that discusses how IT leaders can embrace this change, click here.

The proliferation of devices and applications has increased the complexity of traditional IT infrastructure. The complexity arises from manually managing the infrastructure box-by-box that is slow and error-prone.  The adoption of cloud computing has compounded the problem with on-premises and off-premises resources. As a result, IT leaders have to allocate critical resources to maintain and troubleshoot these systems. In a recent whitepaper, Zeus Kerravala indicated that 83% of IT budget is used to simply maintain the current operating environment. This leaves precious few resources to invest in business-enabling innovation.

At the same time, business leaders are demanding their IT infrastructure to provide them with a faster time to competitive advantage. Quick time to market is paramount in a world where a new competitive advantage might only last a few months or even weeks. And, as if these challenges are not enough, new cyber-attacks not only threaten innovation but can also threaten the organization itself.

Infrastructure programmability is providing a faster time to competitive advantage.

Infrastructure programmability is providing a faster time to competitive advantage.

Programmability to the rescue

Infrastructure programmability provides the ability to control and change the functions of IT infrastructure. Let’s take a closer look.

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Cisco and Citrix Partnership will shine at Citrix Synergy 2014

CitrixSynergyCisco

In case you didn’t notice , the partnership between Citrix and Cisco has been growing nicely over the part 2 years in many areas .
Amongst numerous areas of collaboration here are some common solutions that will be highlighted at the coming conference Citrix Synergy

  • Cisco Enterprise Mobility solution for business to employee with Citrix XenMobile
  • Cisco Desktop Virtualization with Citrix Xen Desktop 7.1 on Cisco UCS
  • Cisco DaaS with Citrix (CloudPlatform or UCS director on UCS)
  • Cisco’s Citrix NetScaler 1000V  (vPath and RISE)
  • Cisco ACI strategy and how Citrix integrates OpFlex.

The last bullets point, especially the endorsement by Citrix of RISE ,  the new protocol for Nexus 7000  have been amply covered over the past weeks  in blogs from Gary Kinghorn  as well as video – You will find links at the bottom of this blogs. But check also Citrix page on Netscaler 1000V.

Citrix was  one of the close partner present  when we announced  last month at Interop  OpFlex, a new open standards- based protocol (OpFlex)  for Application Centric Infrastructure  (ACI) .In this video, Sunil Potti, Citrix VP & GM Netscaler,  explained why Citrix is standing shoulder to shoulder with Cisco on this topic.

Cisco and Citrix have been also working diligently to offer the best solutions in terms of mobility . You may want to check this blog from Jonathan Gilad on Cisco strategy and solutions around mobile workplace . Check his recent blog Beyond BYOD to Workspace mobility 

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Mo’ Traffic, Mo’ Problems: How to Turbo Charge Business Growth across the WAN

Today’s successful business leaders recognize that mobile apps, immersive web content and high definition video are all essential to elevating customer engagement and empowering employees – not to mention growing revenue and increasing productivity.

But as the Internet of Everything becomes a reality, and introduces seemingly endless opportunities to connect more people, more devices, and more content across a highly distributed network – global Internet traffic is expected to triple by 2017 (Cisco VNI, 2013), and frankly, today’s WAN architecture is beginning to show its age. Ultimately, our customers will need to rethink their current network to accommodate the increase in traffic.

Those deployments will be critical for in-branch revenue growth in verticals like retail – where a connected digital experience for customers and employees can deliver superior performance for a host of cloud applications including eCatalogs, Omni-channel engagement, in store mobile apps, guest Wi-Fi and product demos. This trend also extends to other verticals: Read More »

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