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IT’s New Role in Strategic Cloud Services

As cloud-enabled services transform IT departments everywhere, your path to success as an IT professional was made easier today with Cisco’s announcement to expand its cloud portfolio. With Cisco’s comprehensive cloud portfolio offerings, you can easily and securely combine workloads to manage cloud services across different clouds. By increasing your flexibility for strategic sourcing of cloud-enabled IT services, you can increase your influence as a trusted business partner to your stakeholders. And, as you take on these new strategic roles, Cisco and our channel partners can help you and your organization gain control of cloud services.

While defining and deploying a comprehensive cloud architecture presents tremendous opportunity for IT chiefs, this task is not without its challenges. Successful cloud implementation requires a cloud governance model fueled by strategic vision and a holistic approach that addresses all aspects of your data center and IT operations in the new application economy fueled by cloud.

ScottClark

Cisco: Cloud, ACI and the Application Economy

Following on the heels of our launch last fall of Application Centric Infrastructure, our enhanced Cisco Services for cloud portfolio provides strategic assistance to transition to a cloud governance model within your organization based on business outcomes. With our solutions spanning the plan, build, manage, and go-to-market phases of the cloud project lifecycle, Cisco Services has been recognized as an industry leader in cloud services by both IDC and Forrester.

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CA Technologies transforms DevOps with Application Centric Infrastructure

Cisco and CA Technologies have been solution partners for years integrating CA IT management solutions with Cisco Data Center and cloud infrastructure. On Jan. 27th, at CiscoLive Milan, the two companies will demonstrate the next generation data center – highlighting synergies in DevOps automation and Unified Infrastructure management.  Why is this, a turning point in IT evolution?

In a recent blog, I talked about the growing agility gap in mid-to-large data centers -- that in spite of a decade of unified fabrics, virtualized services and controller abstractions, the demands for scale, performance and security are growing faster than IT can satisfy them. This is due to new mobile, social and Big-Data applications that are much more dynamic due to multi-tenancy, higher demand peaks, more distributed users, broader device support, varying performance needs, 24x7 global usage, and changing security vulnerabilities.

I also said that while the evidence of the agility gap is showing up in ballooning network reconfigurations (such as ports, VLANs, subnets, security services, load-balancing, flow optimizations, monitoring), the solution lies in accelerating DevOps – the relatively new discipline of translating dynamic application and tenant needs into an optimal data center topology – and not just in a controller based programming.

CA Technologies is now showing that DevOps processes can be accelerated by orders of magnitude using Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). This is resulting in application optimized infrastructure, much lower TCO and faster time to new services.

DevOps, the frontline in closing the agility gap

DevOps evolved from the need of global enterprises to meet competitive application demands with “continuous application delivery.” Financial services, Healthcare, Hospitality and Retail are among the sectors for whom the frequency of application changes have shrunk from 18 months, to daily and even multiple times a day!

Continuous Application Delivery

Drivers include mobile apps that need continuous enhancements, cloud scaling,  Big-Data and the use of Agile Methodology where major code changes occur in weekly or daily “sprints.”  DevOps brings continuous integration and operational processes to allow several Developer, Quality Assurance and Application-production teams to collaborate to improve agility of application deployments.

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Independent Report Validates that Cisco Nexus 9000 Offers the Most Comprehensive, Open Programming Environment

January 22, 2014 at 2:57 pm PST

As IT departments move to private cloud offerings, DevOps methodologies, and continuous integration capabilities, many segments of the data center market have a strong need for more open, programmable, and application-led networks. In these fully automated environments, network automation for infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or applications on demand is becoming essential. As discussed in a recent blog post by Ravi Balakrishnan, the Cisco Nexus 9000 offers the industry’s 1st open and extensible application policy model helping businesses increase agility, flexibility, and scalability and automate repetitive manual tasks, reducing the time to deployment and easing maintenance tasks.

A recently-issued Lippis Report provides validation that the Cisco Nexus 9000 product line offers the most comprehensive open programming tools and functions available that can either be leveraged independently, or put to work in unison with other platform capabilities. The report found that the benefits of Cisco Nexus 9000 programming environment include investment protection and improved business agility through support of open protocols, APIs and standards that leverage customers’ existing networking, services including security, physical and virtual compute, and storage assets and accelerate network application deployment times to minutes improving business agility through centralized management.

Use Cases

Cisco 9000 programmability enables use cases across the whole IT delivery chain in terms of being able to orchestrate and automate provisioning of network infrastructure. Applications now have special, real-time access to network buffers, congestion and state information, so that they can actually make better choices and decisions on how they’re delivering services to end-users. In addition, troubleshooting can be automated through applications having much deeper visibility into the network.

The specific use cases for Cisco NX-OS API enhancements span data center network engineers and experienced DevOps personnel in cloud and large enterprise IT organization. For network engineers, NX-OS APIs can simplify and automate common network infrastructure provisioning challenges as well as offer automated troubleshooting through enhanced network visibility.

DevOps personnel may leverage NX-OS APIs and automation tools to create their own custom scripts and leverage the NX-API into other tools with which they are already familiar to customize network device data and use it in the way that’s important for them to either deliver competitive business value or to reduce OpEx through automation.

Cisco 9000 Programmability Highlights

The Cisco NX-OS enhancements for the Cisco Nexus 9000 Series supports numerous capabilities that aid automation and orchestration including providing investment protection through the support of new automation capabilities in the future.  Centralized, fine-grained access to Cisco 9000  networking resources is enabled through support for XML, JSON, representational state transfer (REST), remote procedure call (RPC), NetConf, Python scripting, Bash and Broadcom chip-level shell access, and Linux containers for development of custom applications. These APIs have full read and write access to the Cisco 9000 platform, providing programmability, automation, and system access.  Cisco-NX-OS also supports APIs enabling rapid integration with existing management and orchestration frameworks. These include OpenStack interfaces to provide Cisco policy consistency across physical, virtual, and cloud environments.

The full report can be found here:

Lippis Report Nexus 9000 Programmable Network Environment

Lippis Report Nexus 9000 Programmable Network Environment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well as further information on network programmability here:

Network Programmability with Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure

Lippis Report — Nexus 9000 Programmable Network Environment video:

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Cisco Live Milan 2014: Where Hi-Tech meets Fashion and Tradition

I am neither an AC Milan soccer fan nor a connoisseur of haute couture, so it will be no surprise if you wondered what I am doing in Europe’s fashion capital Milan, and that too in the middle of Milan’s wintry January.

Without further ado, I will break the suspense.  Yes, I am one of the few, chosen as Cisco Datacenter leads for the Cisco Live Milan event. You may be thinking I have the best job in Silicon Valley, as I hop from Melbourne to London to Milan to cover Cisco Live worldwide, over the years. You are right, I do have an enviable job, bringing together the best of cisco datacenter technologies that help customers achieve more value for their investment, and I also make sure to have some fun in the process. During this event, I will be bringing you real-time excerpts of the action in the show floor, via social media. In this blog, I want to provide all you Datacenter IT and Networking professionals, highlights of various activities we have on the menu.

Milan

If like me you are fortunate to attend, I am sure you are looking forward to attend the wall-wall keynotes on Jan 28, hosted by Cisco Executives Rob Lloyd and Rob Soderbery. Rob Lloyd will discuss how Cisco and the ecosystem of Cisco’s partners are uniquely positioned to connect the unconnected with an open standard and an integrated architecture from the cloud to end devices In addition,  you’ll have the opportunity to check out the latest innovations in Cisco ACI and Data Center Networking technologies. Let us pick up action at the Cisco Campus and Datacenter area in the World of Solutions.

CAMPUS OVERVIEW 06

Cisco ACI demos are at the center of all action in Datacenter switching. .These demos in particular highlight the growing significance of Cisco as a datacenter infrastructure provider. With the successful introduction of Cisco ACI and its seamless integration with Cisco UCS, FlexPod, vBlock, UCS Director etc, we are able to demonstrate why infrastructure matters and its relevance to applications. I strongly encourage you to check out the Cisco ACI-Open Stack demo that highlights the provisioning and orchestration of a multi-tenant cloud environment and virtual applications through Open Stack, as well as showing integration of Open Stack on top of the Cisco APIC interface. Many of you have been eagerly awaiting the integration of L4-L7 services from Citrix, F5 with Cisco APIC, and we have put together a demo that illustrates the set-up and insertion of multiple network services into an application network, and the routing of traffic to the required services and the virtual workload. Other ACI demos include those that showcase Cisco Nexus 9000 platform programmability and Cisco ACI integration with Hyper-v, but in the interest of time, I will let you discover the exciting details of these demos at your convenience. Besides ACI, we have Unified Fabric based demos focusing on Nexus 7k and Dynamic Fabric Automation, VXLAN integration with Nexus switching platforms etc, to illustrate the comprehensive portfolio of switching products from Cisco. You will not be disappointed at the demo floor as the best and brightest engineers from Cisco business units will be available to engage you in technical conversations.

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Rebuttal to VMware Comments on ACI and SDN Architectures

January 21, 2014 at 11:27 am PST

In a January 13, 2014 NetworkWorld article, VMware executive, Steve Mullaney, compared VMware NSX to Cisco ACI and other SDN architectures. Cisco’s Frank D’Agostino replied to those assertions in the comments section of the article. Frank’s points are abbreviated and summarized here:

1. VMware pricing model is fundamentally flawed, which is raising OpEx costs, and affecting network design decisions and scale.

VMware is charging customers per-port, per-VM, and increases the cost of networking by 2x or more, while providing lower functionality, increasing operations expense, and forcing you to adopt a different network architecture. ACI delivers more functionality with zero VM tax.

For VMware, our customers consistently report pricing starting at $50 or more per VM per month. In competitive engagements, pricing rapidly declines to $15 per VM per month, then lower depending on the negotiation. Customers do not like the per port pricing, the same as they do not like per VM pricing. All of those models get expensive and alter your designs and scale considerations.

2. Claims that ACI is a proprietary platform or policy model belies the fact that many aspects of VMware’s architecture require vendor lock-in, on top of the premium pricing model.

VMware claims that ACI is proprietary. Yet customers have to get their OVS from VMware not the open switch download, under open source license. Currently, VMware is the only hypervisor platform that locks customers into a proprietary controller -- RedHat, KVM, and Hyper-V all provide open access. ACI contributions are showing up in OpenStack, IETF drafts, and through VXLAN extensions, and is providing the most open implementation in the industry -- API’s, data model, and integration with 3rd party controllers. Federating NSX with 3rd party controllers, such as HP, is different that providing open, bi-directional programmability.

3. Openness is really measured by the breadth of infrastructures, OS platforms, orchestration models, etc., that are supported by the policy model, and ACI is rapidly outdistancing NSX in this area.

ACI supports any hypervisor, any encapsulation (VXLAN, NVGRE, VLAN, and even STT), any physical platform, storage, physical compute, layer 4 through 7, WAN, with full flexibility of any workload anywhere, with full policy, performance, and visibility in hardware. ACI supports Open vSwitch and allows a 3rd party controller to program ACI hardware components.  Investment protection is built in supporting existing platforms, and within the Nexus 9000 products enabling you to run enhanced NXOS and ACI mode with a software upgrade.

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