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OPEN: A Fundamental Part of the Network of the Future

Over the past several years, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of two important trends in the networking industry -- the evolution of open standards and open APIs, and the definition of policy as the key interface to the network.

Open is an extremely important word to the future of networking. The simple dictionary definition for open means not closed or locked, allowing access to inside, and freely accessible.

The ultimate networking environment will allow a user the freedom to connect anything together in the cloud and to an existing environment. In order for this vision to happen, companies must work together to create a common language.

OpenStack has garnered a lot of interest in the development community and among our customers.  We at Cisco have been actively helping to shape the discussion around policy.  Working collaboratively with our partners and competitors, we helped create Group-Based Policy (GBP), an intent-driven policy API for OpenStack.

The Group-Based Policy initiative represents a significant innovation in how users conceive, manage, deploy, and scale their applications in OpenStack clouds.  And its now available as a 100% open source solution available to any vendor.  When coupled with Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure, we are able to offer our customers a completely policy-driven network.

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Security for an Application-Centric World

October 1, 2014 at 5:00 am PST

Organizations are migrating to the cloud because it dramatically reduces IT costs as we make much more efficient use of resources (either ours or by leveraging some cloud provider’s resources at optimal times). When done right, cloud also increases business agility because applications and new capacity can be spun up quickly on demand (on-premises or off), network and services configurations can be updated automatically to suit the changing needs of the applications, and, with enough bacon, unicorns can fly and the IT staff can get home at a reasonable hour.

Whenever you ask a CIO-type at any of these organizations what’s holding them back from all this cloud goodness, though, more often than not the answer has something to do with security: “Don’t trust the cloud…”, “Don’t trust the other guy in the cloud…”, “Cloud’s not compliant…”.  You have to be something of a control freak to be a CIO/CISO these days, and, well, isn’t “cloud” all about giving up some control, after all (in return for efficiency and agility)?

Even if you overcome your control issues and you find a cloud you can trust (even if it’s your own private cloud – we can take baby steps here…), if we are going to achieve our instant on-demand application deployment, network provisioning and cost-efficient workload placement process, it turns out all the security stuff can throw another obstacle in our way. Cloud security isn’t like old-fashioned data center security where you could just put a huge firewall in front of the data center and call it good. For secure multi-tenancy and a secure cloud overall, virtually every workload (or “every virtual workload”?) needs to be secured from every other (except for the exceptions we want to make). Some folks call this “microsegmentation”, a fancy word for an old concept, but, a fundamental requirement that cloud deployments need to address. (Spoiler alert: ACI does this very well.) Read More »

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Software Defined Networking, Cisco Style

As new technologies emerge and replace traditional ones, IT teams are discovering that building an infrastructure around new functionality is advantageous in a slew of ways.

One such disruptive technology gaining ground is software defined networking, or SDN.

clouds

The premise of SDN is to allow the user to determine how the network behaves by decoupling the control plane from the data plane. Control planes are essentially the “data directors,” instructing the data plane on where to transfer packets of data. The data plane then establishes the best path and carries the data to its destination. By separating these two functions, the user can program the open-source network to act in accordance with business requirements—using a central management interface in a vendor-neutral manner.

Not only has Cisco joined the SDN approach, they’ve gone beyond the basics of SDN to include an application-driven infrastructure. It’s called, appropriately, Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure, or Cisco ACI.

Cisco ACI combines hardware, policy-based control systems, and software to deliver management automation, programmatic policy, and dynamic workloads. It’s built around the application, not the network.

What’s the advantage? Doing so enables greater support for scalability, a more dynamic network, and centrally-defined portable policies—all of which lend to faster application provisioning and a more efficient environment.

While many SDN solutions are focused solely on software and virtualization, the reality is that hardware still exists and is an integral part of the network. Cisco ACI leverages existing hardware—because no matter how de-emphasized it may become, the physical infrastructure remains important.

As Cisco senior vice president of marketing Soni Jiandani tells Unleashing IT, “ACI is SDN plus a whole lot more. Other SDN models stop at the network. ACI extends the promise of SDN—namely agility and automation—to the applications themselves. Through a policy-driven model, the network can cater to the needs of each application, with security, network segmentation, and automation at scale. And it can do so across physical and virtual environments, with a single pane of management.”

And Shashi Kiran, senior director of market management at Cisco, shares his views on Cisco ACI in this blog.

As businesses are becoming more dependent on applications, they must stay competitive and relevant by considering updating their infrastructure to speak directly to the needs of the application. Learn more in this edition of Unleashing IT, a special release focused on Cisco ACI -- produced by Cisco and Intel® - and see how early adopters are realizing the benefits it brings to the table.

Subscribe for access to content from customer successes to thought leadership to Cisco ACI-related resources.

 

 

 

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How Is Cisco IT Benefiting from Application Centric Infrastructure?

Cisco IT has already started reaping the benefits of Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) from our early internal deployments. Cost savings rank high, in decreased operating expenditures through automation enabled by ACI and the sharp reduction of manual processes that introduce human errors and operational risk.   Read More »

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Unleashing IT magazine Profiles Early adopters of Cisco ACI

 

Application Centric Infrastructure Special Edition

Application Centric Infrastructure Special Edition

It has been just a few short weeks since the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) began shipping, building upon the availability of the Nexus 9000 series and laying the foundation for Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).  The feedback from early adopters has been quite positive. As of August 13th, 2014 we had over 580 Nexus 9000/ACI customers and over 60 have bought the APIC within just two weeks.  We are highly encouraged by the momentum and are looking to build upon this over the course of our next fiscal year.

Recently, IT leaders have been talking about how software-defined networking (SDN) will usher new levels of business agility into their IT organizations, and it’s clear based on our early results that ACI not only delivers on these expectations but takes a leadership stance in delivering the industry’s best SDN solution.It is therefore a great time for us to take a look at these early adopters, explore and share their motivations for choosing the ACI approach.  Customers are genuinely excited with the open architecture and the flexibility and cost savings they get with a true systems approach and it is pertinent to understand their business challenges, architectural expectations and benefits they hope to receive over time.

To create a forum for these stories, we’ve produced a special edition of Unleashing IT -- a publication I’m very excited to share with you as it sheds light on what I truly believe is a transformative innovation.

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