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Observations from London SDN Conference… “Wait, it’s coming…” … But Can You Afford To?

June 26, 2014 at 10:05 am PST

Last week I spent some time at the “Software Defined Networking 2014” conference in London.  It’s a relatively small conference I would say however given the growing interest in SDN and rapid progress of the technology it’s always good to hear alternative viewpoints and experiences.  And I certainly found the previous conference here in December 2013 interesting -- in particular one vendor in my view using SDN as the “hammer to crack a nut“.

Cisco wasn’t present at this conference last week, so what are others saying about SDN?  Here is a quick summary of my takeaways (in some cases questions raised in my mind), which I will expand on below.  And let me be controversial in my summary!

(1) Negligible discussion on live SDN deployments.

(2) NFV -- at least for service providers -- is potentially a quicker win than SDN

(3) SDN “Washing” is alive and well :-)

(4) Is OpenFlow more of an academic pursuit?

(5) Open Daylight excitement

(6) Negligible Discussion on “Making It Happen”

As I say, to some my statements may be controversial -- let me explain!

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Application Centric Infrastructure Addresses 3 CIO Top-of-Mind Concerns

Among the top concerns for CIOs are making IT relevant to the business and driving revenue growth, reducing operational expenses while preserving innovation, and mitigating risk by meeting or exceeding security and compliance requirements. The Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure, or ACI, helps CIOs address these concerns directly. Check out my short video to find out more.  Read More »

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Partner Ecosystem Enhances the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure Value Chain

The 25th anniversary of Cisco Live was an enormous hit, with record crowds at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Every day I could feel the enthusiasm of Cisco customers and partners, and it was especially high in the World of Solutions Expo. That’s where I spent most of my time, on the Expo floor taking in all the technology displays, talking shop, learning, and sharing information with Cisco partners and customers. The key conference themes dominated our conversations – global Intercloud, collaboration, security, and, of course, Application Centric Infrastructure. Read More »

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IDC Quantifies Massive Business Value for Data Centers Using ACI

At the recent CiscoLive event in San Francisco, Soni Jiandani, Senior Vice President of Cisco INSBU, expanded on the industry momentum for Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).  She highlighted wide ranging customers and ecosystem partners that are discovering ACI’s architectural potential to drive enormous simplification of cloud and application delivery.

Now it’s possible to quantify ACI benefits in economic terms.  IDC has just completed an in-depth analysis projecting ACI’s three year return in one of the largest data center environments in the world, Cisco’s own IT Elastic Infrastructure Services (CITEIS).

IDCPicNarrowBorder

Cisco IT runs over 4000 applications, on both virtualized and bare-metal machines, stores  40 PB of data and inspects over 27 TB of traffic daily. CITEIS is a private cloud environment integrating ACI for policy driven network provisioning and operations for a variety of dynamic workloads.

IDC points out that Cisco IT’s decision to use its Cisco ACI technology “was not a foregone conclusion — Cisco’s IT team uses many technologies and solutions from other vendors” to meet its primary responsibilities of improving company-wide productivity, security and asset utilization while reducing the risk of business transitions over time.  Now that “ACI testing and trial runs have been completed, the results yield detailed calculations of ACI’s impact on IT operations, including IT infrastructure spending, the efficiency of IT operations including application deployments, and the incidence of downtime.”

Specifically, IDC found “Automated provisioning in areas such as datacenter access (62.1% projected time savings), access control lists (53.0%), local server load balancing (55.5%), global server load balancing (72.4%), and fleet provisioning (58.0%) will be achieved through the creation and maintenance of provisioning templates.”  Cumulatively, this results in a 41% savings on both Opex and Capex, using a conservative bottom-up approach. IDC also quantified (20%) downtime reduction and (45%) power and space savings.  “IDC believes that the projections are well founded and that these benefits are of the type and scope that organizations can reasonably expect to attain by deploying a policy-based infrastructure solution.  IDC conducted several interviews with IT managers and analyzed “Before” and “After” metrics for common provisioning tasks as well as Capex reductions due to ACI’s dynamic isolation capabilities within a shared production environment.

According to Rebecca Jacoby, SVP and CIO, Cisco, “ACI’s policy based architecture will bring the promise of infrastructure programmability to the masses. It makes every datacenter operator able to effectively create policies that can be used, reused, and deployed in a much simpler and more efficient manner — and use the staff that is currently spending all their time in running the network and the security protocols, to do much more strategic things.”

Download the IDC analysis here.  And for a background of ACI’s architectural approach take a look at the white paper from Enterprise Strategy group.

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A New ESG White Paper: Accelerating Transformation with an Application-centric Approach

At CiscoLive San Francisco held last week, Soni Jiandani, Senior Vice President of Cisco INSBU, highlighted our continued industry momentum for Application Centric Infrastructure.  She discussed customer deployments, new ecosystem partners and the enormous simplification of cloud and application delivery.

So it’s timely to review both ACI’s architectural approach and get a first look at the actual business value that large customers expect from adopting ACI.   This two part blog introduces:

ESGwide

  • A new Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) white paper that explains the principles of ACI’s application-centric approach and how it helps data center teams keep pace with business agility, risk management and the need for resource efficiency.
  • An economic analysis from IDC showing the three year return on using ACI in one of the largest data center environments in the world, Cisco’s own IT Elastic Services.

In the first paper, Enterprise Strategy Group shows how the rise of mobile, social, and e-commerce applications are driving a fundamental IT transformation. Web 2.0, Big Data, and collaboration applications are built using a modular approach, leveraging Dev Ops and Cloud Ops models and consumed on traditional and mobile devices. These applications are far more dynamic than ever before.  Therefore, the supporting underlying IT infrastructure (compute, network, and storage), has to be more flexible and adaptable to their specific needs.

The paper explains how Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) architecture provides a common programmable infrastructure policy model for enterprise network, application, security, and virtualization teams. Policy based provisioning of applications makes IT more agile in both application deployment and optimized operations.  It offers full visibility and integrated management of both physical and virtual networked IT resources, supporting an “application anywhere” model with complete freedom of application movement and placement.  In addition, through open OpFlex protocol, ACI’s policy-based approach can now be extended to a growing vendor ecosystem, allowing customers to protect their existing data center investments.

In the paper, Bob Laliberte, Senior Analyst at ESG, addresses the following topics:

  • How applications are driving IT transformation
  • How infrastructure obstacles inhibit responsiveness to the business
  • A new approach in which there is a much tighter link between the applications and the underlying networking infrastructure
  • How Cisco ACI complements and accelerates the IT transformation in the networking space

Download the ESG paper here.  And stay tuned for the IDC business value analysis.

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