With Interop less than three weeks away, we were doubly excited to learn that Cisco APIC, the controller for our Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) fabric, and the Cisco Nexus 9516 switch have been selected as Best of Interop 2014 Finalists in the categories of Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Data Center Networks respectively. As you may recall, when we announced ACI and our series of Nexus 9000 switches back in October, we announced that APIC would be the software controller for the application-centric policy model, and would be available in Q2, CY 2014.
As we get closer to that general availability date, Interop is a great venue to unveil more aspects of the ACI fabric, the policy model, and key APIC features. If you aren’t going to be in Las Vegas the first week of April, now may be the time to start making plans as we gear up for some exciting ACI news and events, and hopefully bringing home these Best of Interop awards.
This first video discusses Cisco APIC:
And this second one highlights our newest Nexus 9000 switch, the Nexus 9516:
This is an amazing episode of Engineers Unplugged, where two technologists from the community, Hal Rottenberg (@halr9000) and Colin Lynch (@ucsguru) discuss how ACI disrupts traditional networking thinking while leveraging current networking skills. It’s a great tutorial for anyone looking to understand what application centric infrastructure really means.
Will network engineers all become programmers?
Watch and see:
This unicorn comes with birthday wishes--Happy 5th Birthday UCS!
Happy Birthday UCS Unicorn courtesy of Colin Lynch, with commentary by Hal Rottenberg!
**The next Engineers Unplugged shoot is at Varrow Madness, Charlotte, NC, March 20, 2014! Contact me now to become internet famous.**
This is Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:
Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
This is a two-part blog series developed in association with Tom Edsall, a Cisco Fellow and CTO of Insieme Networks, recently acquired by Cisco Systems. The intent is to elaborate on foundational design principles of Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), a transformational approach for next-generation and cloud deployments. While the vision of ACI is an expansive one, this blog series focuses on the role of SDN overlays, their deployment considerations, as well as benefits that customers could derive from the unique implementation of overlays in an ACI solution.
The philosophy of Application Centric Infrastructure
Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure approach focuses on the most important thing in the data-center: applications. Without applications, we would not even need a data center at all! Everything we do in the data center ultimately is used to support those applications and the data that they work on because that is what ultimately drives business value.
The modern data center must be able to deploy applications rapidly, using any and all resources (compute, storage, network) available in the data center at any time. It must also be possible to grow, shrink, and move applications as needed. This will drive business agility and efficient use of resources.
The problem is that classical networking systems were developed in a world where there was less focus on any application anywhere, any time. Instead the focus was on on building large, static, IP networks.
Our solution was to create an application centric infrastructure where the emphasis is on the application rather than on the network. In order to do this we had to change the abstraction of the network from one that is, well, network centric to one that is application centric. In addition, we had to employ some SDN techniques to change the network from a traditional static infrastructure to a more dynamic, agile, flexible infrastructure. Let’s look into some of these techniques in detail.
Integrating SDN concepts
We employ two important concepts used in typical SDN solutions: overlays and a centralized controller. Overlays give us network flexibility that was never possible before by separating the location of a device from its identity. The centralized controller gives us consistent network behavior wherever an application is deployed, the application centric abstraction of the network, and a single point of control. While these benefits are important, even fundamental, to building a data center capable of supporting the business requirements of application agility, they also introduce their own set of problems in traditional SDN deployments that must be addressed. We will discuss these issues and their solutions shortly.
The SDN overlay and application abstraction is built on top of networking hardware that must move data across the data center quickly and efficiently without requiring changes to the applications, servers or storage elements attached to it. The hardware must do this in an efficient, reliable manner and provide as much assistance as possible to the network operator when troubleshooting and monitoring those applications as they use the network. Lastly, this hardware must be cost effective, power efficient, and space efficient.
Welcome to Episode 2 of #CiscoChampion Radio, a podcast series by and for Cisco Champions as technologists, hosted by Cisco’s Amy Lewis (@CommsNinja). This week we’re talking about Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).
Cisco Champion: Colin Lynch (@UCSguru)
Cisco Subject Matter Expert: Joe Onisick (@jonisick)
How ACI lets you manage a network cohesively instead of box-by-box
What a network looks like in ACI mode vs. stand-alone mode
How ACI works with network protocols like spanning-tree and TRILL
Upgrading the Nexus 9000 Series to ACI
When ACI makes sense for your business
There’s been a lot of news and momentum surrounding VXLAN technology in the last several months, and there is no doubt that VXLAN is becoming a more strategic and pervasive technology across cloud networks as a result. When we rolled out VXLAN about two years ago with the first commercial implementation as part of our Nexus 1000V virtual switch, VXLAN was solely a virtual networking construct and had real constraints in how it could be extended to physical networks and devices. It was also restricted to overlay networks using our Nexus 1000V switch (or other virtual switches supporting the VXLAN overlay protocol).
Now, however, VXLAN is being supported broadly across Cisco networking platforms and devices, across multiple Cisco fabric architectures, and we are even seeing broader support from other vendor ecosystems and non-Cisco switching platforms. Cisco is continuing to expand its support for VXLAN onto the new Nexus 5600 Series switches, as well as Nexus 7700 Series using the F3 line card.
For those of you not fully up to speed on VXLAN, VXLAN stands for Virtual eXtensible Local Area Network, and started out as vastly more scalable Layer 2 LAN and tenant isolation construct for data center and cloud networks. Where cloud networks were running out of only 4000+ VLAN IDs to segment application networks, VXLAN gave them over 16 Million logical network segments.