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How Cisco IT Adopts New Technologies in the Data Center

I’d like to give you an inside look at our Allen Data Center and go over how Cisco IT is adopting new technologies and capabilities while at the same time running the business. I’ll answer your top of mind questions and cover topics such as: Read More »

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Getting Value from Professional Organizations

As a Cisco team member, I’m convinced that the value of professional organizations cannot be understated. It’s understood that employees across various industries have a lot on their plate these days. Data centers, SDN’s or large solutions that help a manufacturing plant to become more “connected” are more than enough projects to keep us busy. However, employees often forget the value of professional organizations that are relevant within each industry. Whether an employee belongs to a professional organization or not, employees must realize the value that these organizations have: professional credibility, influence messaging on a ground level and increasing visibility for Cisco are some of the most important aspects that being involved with professional organizations can bring about.

Professional Credibility

Professional organizations are a place where I can network, learn and help deliver Cisco messaging as well as educate, engage and contact customers through community involvement.  When I first joined Cisco 15 years ago, I regularly attended and presented at monthly users group meetings, but over the years, Cisco’s participation at these meetings has waned and appears to be trending down. Often, I think we take for granted the value of professional organizations, but they provide a standard for professional credibility and give Cisco a broader visibility. As a member of an industry professional organization, specifically the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), I get tremendous value through education and networking.  I know my colleague Rick Geiger, who is on the Gridwise Alliance Board of Directors, would agree. At the local and state level, large impacts are possible as professional association members are able to drive professional credibility, influence agendas and position topics to society members who work or interact with our customer base.

For example, several months ago I received a monthly newsletter promoting a seminar on Software Defined Networking (SDN). One line stated “Software Defined Networking has got Cisco shaking in their boots because it just might completely transform what types of equipment are needed to build a network.  Do I have your attention now?”  Needless to say, I registered and attended – member discount to boot.

Education of members was the primary purpose of the seminar, meaning attendees expected the delivery of neutral, fair and technically accurate presentation on the future of software defined networks.  As I saw it, the presentation on SDN was focused on a Google approach to SDN architecture for data centers, and included a good amount of Cisco bashing. Nonetheless, the seminar provided an opportunity to influence the messaging at ground level and the topics discussed seemed to be informative and beneficial for all those in attendance.

Influence Messaging and Topics at Ground Level

Understanding the messaging and positioning of the local technical mavens presents a golden opportunity to counter and influence at street level. The bottom line, secure all forums to get Cisco’s messaging to our end users.  The IEEE meeting provided a good opportunity to secure a date and timeslot to present Cisco’s SDN and Application-Centric Infrastructure strategies as well as an opportunity to counter any negative perception the audience picked.  As Mike Robinson, Practice Architect states:

“As a member of UTC’s Smart Network Council, I get to collaborate with leading utilities in the United States who are dealing with the industry’s pressing issues. This is hugely valuable. It offers a direct path to decision makers, a seat at the table as they develop their strategies, and it builds trust as a colleague (as opposed to coming across just as a vendor). Also, through UTC I get the opportunity to speak at conventions, periodic forums, and regional meetings.”

Broader Visibility for Cisco

Cisco will also have an opportunity to drive thought leadership to influencers – Mavens and Sales specialists who will attend the upcoming session I secured. Account managers, engineers and other members of the sales team should make it a priority to get engaged with professional organizations, user groups and other community influencers.

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Cisco Live Milan 2015: Hi-Tech revisits City of Tradition and Fashion

When I first visited Milan last year in January, the occasion was Cisco Live and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Alpine city is known as much for its Hi-tech as it is for fashion and tradition. I am one of the lucky few in Cisco to be visiting this great city for a second year in row as Cisco Live Europe is all set to commence here next week. What is special this year? From a Cisco Data center standpoint ACI, Inter-Cloud, IOT and UCS continue to grab the headlines. Particularly, ACI has established itself as the dominant SDN technology with more than 1,000 plus N9K customers, 200 plus ACI customers and a growing eco-system of 34 partners in just one year. In this blog, I am going to present excerpts of what attendees can broadly expect to see and experience at the buzzing event, and I will take you on a tour of how ACI is ready to engage and enrich you.

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At the outset, I’d recommend that you attend all keynotes to understand Cisco’s strategy for the emerging technology trends and market transitions. Cisco Execs Carlos Dominguez and Jeremy Bevan kick-start the proceedings with an opening keynote on Jan 27 as they review the amazing things we have achieved in building the internet over the last decade and look at what we must do to build an Internet fit for purpose for the next decade. Don’t miss several technology trends keynotes occurring on Jan27 and 28. Soni Jiandani’s session scheduled for Jan 28 on SDN/ACI topic is going to be a sell-out. Come and listen to Soni to understand how ACI enables business outcomes and IT automation through the creation of an agile infrastructure.

Now I want to segue to ACI specifics. The last year has been phenomenal from an ACI eco-system momentum standpoint. F5 and Citrix, leading ADC vendors, have developed joint solutions with ACI and we have experienced several customer wins and success stories. F5 is a platinum sponsor and has a big presence at Cisco Live Milan this year to delight the 8,000 plus attendees. At the world of solutions F5 has dedicated demo stations to showcase multiple Cisco ACI-F5 joint solutions (featuring both BIG IP and BIG IQ), and F5’s engineers will be happy to explain via whiteboard how these solutions are relevant to your needs. Vincent Ng from F5, an expert presenter, has a technical breakout session on Jan 27 featuring ACI-F5 joint solution. Vincent’s expertise spans hands-on demos alongside lucid architectural illustrations, so do not miss this session.

Citrix has been a regular platinum sponsor at Cisco Live events. This year at Cisco Live Milan, Citrix has a large booth presence in the partner area. The key activities at the booth include joint solution demos featuring UCS-XD/XA, ACI-NetScaler, Mobility and Cloud among other major ones. Besides, David Potter and Christian Hietzschold from Citrix are doing a presentation on topic, “Delivering the best in SDN and ACI integration solutions.” If you happen to be in the DevNet zone, you may want to check out Citrix’s short theater presentations to get a well-rounded view of our joint alliance.

A10 Networks and Radware both have a presence in the WOS, showcasing joint solutions with ACI, thereby providing further evidence for the fast growing ACI L4-L7 eco-system.

At the World of Solutions (WOS) this year, ACI and Cloud take center stage in the Data center category. There are 10 demos showcasing ACI innovations and 6 on the Data Center Networking front. We also have an “Ask the Expert- Solutions Design Center” where Cisco architects will help address your data center, cloud, ACI strategy and design questions to accelerate ROI and reduce TCO. The ACI demos cover broad customer interest areas such as Analytics/Telemetry/Visibility, popular Cloud Management Platforms such as Microsoft Azure and Open Stack, Support for Multi-Hypervisors, Secure Application deployment etc. Our ACI subject matter experts will be on site to give you a real-life demo and explain how these are relevant to your needs.

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We also have Hands-on labs at the WOS that give you the opportunity to explore and evaluate a range of Cisco technologies, and our Meet the Engineer and Technical Solution Clinics give you access to the people who design Cisco’s solutions and give you the insight you need about your own environment and technical challenges. So stop by the WOS to explore new technologies and get answers to your unique questions.

In addition to the hands-on demos, we also have round the clock mini-presentations at the WOS Cisco Theater. This year we have three innovative ACI theater topics namely “Simplifying day-0, day-1, day-2 operations with ACI”, “Securing Applications with ACI” and “NX-OS Programmability and Automation”. The special draw at the WOS Theater is the topic of “Simplifying Operations with ACI”. This presentation will cover how application deployment can be accelerated and how easy it is to troubleshoot problems with ACI. To satisfy your broader interests we also have theater sessions on UCS, Cloud and Nexus switching portfolio. Check our WOS Theater roster in the agenda handout.

To your heart’s delight is how I’ll describe Cisco technical breakout sessions. Yes, we have more than 500 breakouts from industry recognized experts at the show. ACI breakouts feature prominently and ACI domain experts Carlos Pereira, Mike Cohen, Mike Herbert, Maurizio Portolani all co-present Jan 26 on topic ‘ACI-Policy Driven Data Center”. This session ranks at the top for me. If you are an Open Stack fan then you must look into the session “APIC Integration with Open Stack” presented by Sebastian Jeuk and Lijun Deng. Harry Petty is doing an ACI operations focused session PSODCT-2455. Data Center operators focused on tenant on-boarding, application monitoring and trouble-shooting will find this session very relevant, so mark this as a must-attend. There are many more breakouts and Lab sessions on ACI, and check out the session catalog for details. Another insightful breakout session PSODCT-1200 by Craig Huitema focuses on the Nexus switching portfolio and ACI and how together they enable a faster, responsive and flexible IT.

As a Cisco Live attendee you benefit from the opportunity to interact with your peers, Cisco staff and partner technical experts in both structured and informal settings. Our Welcome Reception and Customer Appreciation Event are the highlights of the week’s social calendar. Read more on the Social Events & Networking Onsite section. Our online communities on Facebook and Twitter provide year round access to like-minded individuals as well as valuable content, news and updates. We’d love it if you would join the conversation.

I can go on and on, but I’d never be able to cover all of the excitement in store. I’d leave some for you to explore on your own and our Meet and Greet ambassadors will be more than happy to assist you at the show. As for me, if time permits, I am planning on acquainting myself with some of the legendary artworks of MichelAngelo. Safe travels and a happy Cisco Live.

Related Links

www.cisco.com/go/aci

www.blogs.cisco.com/datacenter

http://www.ciscolive.com/emea/

www.cisco.com/go/acif5

 

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ACI Delivers Operational Simplicity

Let’s start this blog with a hypothetical scenario. Suppose you’re the CIO and you’ve committed to your CEO and the Board of Directors that your company will execute an innovative new strategy to delight your customers directly through their mobile devices  and leverage the cloud to service them at scale.  You are 90% complete in your development and you just need to complete your final beta and production readiness testing to roll it out to production when you learn your leading competitor is going to beat you to the market with their own application next month.

Is your cloud infrastructure really as agile as you believe? Will the physical infrastructure scale with the load?  Will you be able to secure your application and data from threats?  Can you rapidly deploy a production application across servers, networks, and storage infrastructure securely?

During Cisco’s Data Center webcast Jan 13, we’ll walk through the hypothetical use case above and then see how Day 1 operations for configuration and deployment can be addressed in real life by customers and enabling vendors.

Episode 1: An Impossible Deadline

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We’ll look at Day 2 operations and learn how important application visibility across physical and virtual infrastructure is to meet the most stringent uptime requirements.

Episode 2: The Needle in the Haystack

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Finally, we examine the challenges of de-commissioning applications securely while maintaining compliance.

Episode  3: Operation Clean Up

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DCJoin us during the webcast as we hear from ACI customers who will share their production experiences with ACI and  how it impacts their day 1 and day 2 operations.  Hear ACI ecosystem partners who will share how they collaborate through ACI’s open policy model to simplify application delivery, security and orchestrate open clouds.

Make a note on your calendar for January 13th at 9 AM PST/ 12 EST  and see  Is your Data Center Ready for the Application Economy? (Register Here!).

The video on demand will be accessible through this same link.

 

If you are traveling to Cisco Live in Milan, Italy; please come to my session  PSODCT-2455 “Simplify Day 0, 1, and 2 Operations in Application Centric Data Centers” on Jan 29th from 1:15PM — 2:15PM to learn how operations like tenant on-boarding, creating applications containers and self-service catalogs, application monitoring and troubleshooting can all be simplified with application policy driven automation.

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Software Defined Networks with L4-L7 ADC Policy Automation

It appears only a short time ago we introduced Cisco ACI to the market, but it is already the one-year anniversary time. In this one-year period, we have seen tremendous momentum on customer adoption and partner eco-system for both the Nexus 9k hardware platform and the ACI software. To date there are more than 1,000 plus Nexus 9k hardware customers and 200 plus ACI software customers. And don’t forget the growing eco-system of partners that now stands at an impressive 34.

To commemorate this one-year anniversary of ACI and its success, we have planned a grand Data Center Webcast to be broadcast on Jan 13 at 9 AM PST. Click here to register for the webcast. Attendees of the webcast will have the opportunity to hear from our ACI ecosystem partners how their solutions integrate to help customize and extend ACI deployments. The audience will also hear from Cisco customers all over the world about the benefits they’ve discovered with our ACI architecture. Check out Cisco exec Shashi Kiran’s blog for more details on the webcast.

For the remainder of this blog I am going to focus on the ACI L4-L7 partner eco-system momentum. Since August 2014, major L4-L7 Application Delivery Controller (ADC) vendors have collaborated with our Insieme Business Unit to build, test, certify joint integrated solutions and introduce publicly downloadable device packages for customers to seamlessly deploy ACI in existing ADC deployments.

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What makes the ACI integration with L4-L7 ADC vendors’ devices so seamless and easy? Well, the answer lies in the flexible and open service policy management inherent in ACI. The highly open and programmable nature of Cisco APIC and the ability to selectively associate service chains with specific applications and data flows, and the flexibility of applying application delivery policies to different applications (Figure-1). This far exceeds that of a traditional network based ADC. To date F5, Citrix, A10 Networks have built FCS versions of device packages for Cisco ACI. I want to take you on a quick tour of each of these ACI joint solutions, and the benefits they uniquely bring to existing customer deployments.

The exciting L4-L7 eco-system ramp began in August 2014 when ADC market leader F5 announced the availability of its device package for ACI. Since then, our partnership has clicked into high gear. We had a very successful F5 Agility event at Copenhagen (June) and New York (early August) showcasing the Cisco ACI-F5 BIG-IP joint solution in breakout sessions, world of solutions Expo, and in keynotes Panels. Cisco also published a jointly written technical whitepaper, a solutions brief and a Design guide with F5. In the webcast planned for Jan 13, we have an exclusive partner panel session featuring F5 exec, Calvin Rowland, and Cisco Exec, Soni Jiandani. I urge you to tune in to this webcast to get the low-down on the customer traction and how customers are benefiting from the policy based automation and application centric approach of our joint solution.

The Citrix and Cisco strategic partnership dates back to early 2010 with a strategic alliance on the UCS-Citrix Desktop Virtualization front. Since then, our alliance has expanded to other technology areas, and in August we introduced the ACI-Citrix NetScaler joint solution to market with the availability of the Citrix device package for Cisco ACI. Citrix and Cisco ACI engineering teams are also actively working in IETF and ODL standards efforts to create thought leadership around NSH and the OpFlex protocols. I can vouch that it will be a rewarding experience for you to listen to Steve Shah of Citrix at the Jan 13 webcast, and get insights on how customers are benefiting from our joint solution featuring open policy model and a programmable infrastructure. Check out the solutions brief and whitepaper from our joint website to gather more details.

A10 Networks is the new kid on the ACI eco-system block. ACI’s SDN paradigm is a natural fit for A10 Networks’s vision and strategy to expose L4-L7 networking features programmatically. As a first step, A10 Networks has successfully certified their device package for ACI and is now available for download. The A10 device package is open source, and can be easily enhanced by customers to create custom value with near ubiquitous programmability. Exciting near term joint engagements include potentially collaborating on an OpFlex and NSH standards effort as well as some advanced ADC features such as WAF, SSL offload, GSLB, and device partitions among others. I do not want to steal all of the webcast’s thunder, so tune in on Jan 13 to get a 360 degree view from A10 CTO Raj Jalan.

As I am writing this blog there is more exciting news. Yes, Radware is also testing their ACI device package with the Insieme Business Unit now. Stay tuned to hear more outcomes on this engagement. The L4-L7 ACI eco-system momentum is truly on a fast track. In closing, I want to re-iterate, do not forget to register for Cisco’s ACI webcast set for Jan 13.

Related Links

http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/citrix-netscaler-device-package-for-cisco-aci-goes-fcs

http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/f5-device-package-for-cisco-apic-goes-fcs

http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/aci_webcast

 

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