Cisco Blogs


Cisco Blog > The Platform

The Future of Networking, Available Today

I am Soni Jiandani, SVP of Marketing for Cisco’s Insieme Business Unit. Together with a team of veteran leaders and engineers, we continue to disrupt markets to drive industry transformation. Our latest disruption is focused on leapfrogging Software Defined Networks (SDN) with a holistic approach to the future of networking: Application Centric Infrastructure, or ACI for short.

My blog is timed with announcing the shipment of ACI – namely the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) with ACI mode for the Nexus 9000.  But this is not a corporate sales blog. My intent is to foster an open discussion about the future of the networking industry.

ACI: A key enabler to driving fast IT

We have spent the past few years to gather the best and the brightest engineering minds focused on one simple goal:  to design an infrastructure for our customers that meets the needs of applications today and in the future. These applications require dynamic, agile, fast, secure, scalable, reliable infrastructure that is automated as a native, baseline requirement.

Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

SDN and Beyond: Cisco ACI Starts Shipping to Data Centers Worldwide on July 31!

July 29, 2014 at 5:00 am PST

ACI goes beyond SDN to help customers deliver business outcomes and not just network device programmability.  That’s part of the reason over 175 customers signed up to trial the APIC during the hardware beta.  Now Cisco ACI will start shipping to Data Centers worldwide on July 31!

From when we first announced the Vision for an Application Centric Infrastructure at Cisco Live Orlando in 2013, it’s been extremely exciting to see customers and ecosystem partners support this new operational model for centrally configuring, automating and operating network and security infrastructure.

The application model for abstracting network infrastructure requirements and policies really does address the operational needs of the infrastructure and application teams.  That was by design, as Insieme’s engineering team worked with the leading cloud infrastructure customers of the world and our Cisco IT organization to incorporate their operational and application needs.  In fact, IDC published a powerful report to confirm the ACI related 3 year OpEx savings forecast at Cisco’s IT Elastic Infrastructure Services (CITEIS), one of the largest data center environments in the world.  Read the IDC Business Value Brief on Cisco ACI to learn more.

With the production APIC, customers can now begin running production applications on ACI.  For insights into why our customers are deploying ACI, we spoke with the leaders of two world-class IT companies that are aggressively rolling out ACI within their own corporate IT.

Symantec IT is an early adopter of ACI and Sean Doherty (VP of Alliances Offerings, Symantec) spoke recently with Shashi Kiran (Senior Director, Cisco) about automating their IT infrastructure with ACI.  About the Symantec IT environment,  Sean said, “Some applications have been through the Physical to Virtual cycle and others are placed on clouds. We are looking to move those into a more modern agile environment. The ACI is providing the infrastructure to build out that new environment…”.  Sean added that ACI helps in significantly accelerating the detection and remediation of security issues with business critical applications.  Check out this YouTube video interview for the full story.

Symantec Doherty NetApp KiddSymantec DohertySymantec Doherty

Representing another user adopting ACI, NetApp’s CTO Jay Kidd spoke recently about the ACI project in their global development lab.  He said this is a large scale deployment covering 2300 racks of equipment wired end-to-end with 40G capacity with Nexus 9000.  Talking about the lab, Jay stated, “One of the beauties of the (Nexus) 9K is the ability to gracefully transition and combine 10Gig and 40Gig together in the same infrastructure. Then with ACI, being able to build up these profiles for the applications or the test scenarios for those applications, store them, provision them dynamically. Anything we can do to make it easier for our developers to use this DevOps private cloud, we think will speed up the time to market and ACI is big part of that”.  The Lab can spin up thousands of Virtual Machines per hour with an aggregate capacity of running well in excess of a million VMs at a given time.  You can  listen to Jay’s eloquent explanation on YouTube here.

NetApp Kidd

Our Cisco sales teams have a great way to help Cisco customers to begin their own ACI deployments with the new ACI Starter Bundles.   An ACI Starter Bundle (Fig 1) has everything you need to create an ACI POD including a resilient cluster of three APICs, two fixed or modular spine switches, eight 40G optics, and two or four leaf switches depending on which of the four bundles are selected.

Figure 1  ACI Starter Bundles include an APIC Cluster with 3 APICs and 8 40G AOC optics

  • #1 Two Fixed Spine Switches, Four Leaf Switches with 192 Ports
  • #2 Two Fixed Spine Switches, Four Leaf Switches with 384 Ports
  • #3 Two Modular Spine Switches, Two Leaf Switches with 96 Ports
  • #4 Two Modular Spine Switches, Two Leaf Switches with 192 Ports

Cisco customers can use ACI Starter Bundles 1 or 2 as policy appliance for flexible/ granular network virtualization and secure isolation in conjunction with their existing base of Nexus 2000 to Nexus 7000 (Fig. 2)

Figure 2 ACI Starter Bundles #1 or #2

Slide1

ACI Starter Bundles #1 or #2 can also be used to scale out a UCS converged infrastructure solution such NetApp FlexPod and VCE VBlock. (Fig. 3)

Figure 3 Scale out UCS Converged Infrastructure Solutions

Slide1

ACI Starter Bundles #3 or #4 can be used as a starting point to scale out private clouds with secure multi-tenancy since they are based upon the more expandable modular chassis. (Fig. 4)

Figure 4

Slide1

When used in conjunction with the just released Application Virtual Switch, AVS, the APIC provides centralized policy based control and automation for any application composed of any number of server tiers containing any number of virtual or physical servers.  These ACI starter bundles enable customers to begin ACI deployments for testing or production operations.  The simple fixed price licensing for a set of leaf ports, 48 or 96, means there is no penalty for running lots of VMs per server vs. bare metal servers. (Fig 5) Customers can predict the cost of running their software defined network infrastructure.

Figure 5 No per VM Tax with ACI licensing

Servers

Contact your Cisco account manager to learn how the cost of an ACI POD is less than the cost of  those dedicated x86 hardware gateways required with leading pure software overlay approaches.  ACI delivers more scale, security, and performance at a fixed predictable cost with documented TCO benefits.

Many of our ecosystem partners announced at Cisco Live that they would be shipping their ACI Device Packages when Cisco’s APIC enters FCS.  The following joint solutions have passed rigorous interoperability testing conducted jointly by the vendor’s and Cisco’s engineering teams in our own ACI testing lab.   These partners demonstrate ACI’s open ecosystem for service integration, investment protection for existing ADC networks, and the benefits of a centralized control point for L2-L3 network and L4-L7 service policy coordination and automation.

  • Cisco ASA security and Cisco ACI solution:   Customers can now deploy Cisco ACI with Cisco ASA and its ACI Device Package to provide automated, policy-based security provisioning, management, and security policy updates, for firewall, intrusion prevention,  and more.
  • Citrix NetScaler and Cisco ACI joint solution:  Customers can use the APIC to coordinate the Citrix NetScaler’s ADC unique application insights for optimized service delivery with ACI’s network automation and obtain end-to-end telemetry and visibility for service-aware applications and tenants.
  • Embrane and Cisco ACI joint solution:  With the APIC and Embrane’s ACI Device Package, ESM automates the deployment and lifecycle management of Embrane’s network virtual services as well as those from Cisco ASA, Sourcefire, and Citrix.
  • F5 Synthesis and Cisco ACI joint solution: Customers can accelerate application deployment by automating insertion of SSL offload and L4-L7 SLB services using F5’s ACI Device Package and the Cisco APIC.

We are publishing interviews with the analysts, the leading practitioners that are hands on with ACI in August in an exciting ACI special edition of Unleashing IT.   I’ll share the link for you here in a few weeks.

Today, we had some great news to share on Data Center and Cloud  Networks.  The Cisco ACI solution portfolio was orderable on July 1 and starts shipping July 31.  This includes the four ACI starter bundles detailed above.  For details on today’s exciting new Nexus switches nnouncement,  please visit this blog -- Nexus Flexibility Eases Transitions.

Links for more information

8/15 Demo Friday: Watch Cisco ACI Enable Fast IT

IDC: Optimizing the Datacenter Network for Improved Scalability, Orchestration, and Automation

An Application-Centric Infrastructure Will Enable Business Agility

ESG: Accelerating Transformation with an Application-centric Approach

Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure and Cisco Nexus Switching: Delivering Investment Protection

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Will Software Defined Networking Actually Happen?

As a writer for the IT media, conference speaker, and co-host of the Packet Pushers podcast, I cover emerging networking technologies often. The new tech that comes across my screen ranges in value from “I can’t believe that got funded,” to “Why has no one thought of this before?” and everything in between. As a big idea, software defined networking (SDN) seems to generate about that same range of responses from network engineers. Some networkers think that SDN is an extraordinary technology that’s going to change the world of IT. Others see SDN as yet another in a long string of quirky networking ideas that never gained acceptance. In fact, as I’ve read responses to my SDN-related content over the last few years, I believe that more folks are in that latter camp. SDN is a fad. SDN is a buzzword. SDN will go nowhere useful. SDN will eventually fail to have a universal impact.

I understand the cynicism. After all, for a long time, networking had lapsed in an innovation coma, with nothing especially exciting coming along to really shake things up. Yes, Ethernet’s gotten faster. And that BYOD thing got everyone excited a couple of years ago. But for the most part, we design, build, and operate networks the same way today that we did fifteen or more years ago. The core underlying protocols have grown up or had new knobs and levers added, but generally speaking, if a networker of the past fell out of a time warp and into a design project today, it wouldn’t take them too terribly long to catch up. Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Cisco ACI at F5 Agility 2014, Copenhagen

At F5 Agility 2014 Copenhagen this month, Applications take the central stage.  The key focus area is Application Delivery Controllers (ADC’s as Gartner calls them) and how they are increasingly becoming more important to modern IT than they used to be, allowing scale, availability, orchestration and provisioning.

F5-1

Another key focus area is around the deployment of applications and how joint technology solutions present a tremendously powerful option for F5’s customers.  F5’s partners -- and Cisco is a key partner – are a large part of Agility.  Cisco is at the event to demonstrate how its ACI technology integrates with F5 BIG-IP to improve manageability, strengthen security, and ensure faster and more successful deployments.

F5-2

We have quite a few exciting things that we are showcasing at F5 Agility from a Cisco ACI perspective, and in this blog I want to take you on a quick tour of the highlights. As a testimony to our growing momentum with the Cisco ACI-F5 joint solution effort, we have demos, business and technical breakout sessions. The event features F5 CEO John McAdam’s keynote on Tuesday June 17, where he will … discuss how applications are impacting the architecture of the data center and driving IT strategy and alignment to key business drivers.

F5-3

Cisco Marketing Manager Ravi Balakrishnan is presenting a business breakout session-4 titled “Unleash the power of Cisco ACI and F5 Synthesis for Accelerated Application deployments,” on Wednesday June 18. This session gives a detailed overview on the benefits of our joint solution and the customer pain points it addresses, so do not miss this. I’d also encourage you to attend Paolo Pio and Nicolas Menant’s technical breakout session-3 on Wednesday June 18, where they will walk you through details of ACI/VMDC joint solution.

We also have an exciting demo at the Cisco ACI kiosk, where we are showing how the Cisco ACI and F5 BIG-IP joint solution works with step-by-step illustrations of configuration, deployment and execution. The demos run Tuesdays and Wednesday at the Exhibit Hall for the entire duration of the day. Stop by our demo kiosk to get a deep-dive architecture type white-boarding or brainstorming type engagement with Cisco subject matter experts on ACI-F5 integrated solution. There are several other solution areas where Cisco and F5 are working together including F5 LTM-Cisco Nexus 7000 integration, F5 LTM-SourceFire NGIPS integration etc, so come by our demo booth to learn more.

To learn more on Cisco and F5  partnership visit the Cisco-F5 Alliance web page.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Cisco ACI at ONS Summit, 2014

ONS summit 2014 starts Monday March 3, and for me it is my first time here. It hardly feels that way. For us in Cisco ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) team, it is busy last few days as we are putting final touches to showcase our exciting ACI solutions, demos and presentations to customers at this premier SDN event. Early in 2014, Cisco ACI expert Mike Cohen has made insightful predictions on what awaits SDN in 2014 – Read his Blog

Mike zeroes in on key Data Center use cases for SDN, starting with Application Deployment Acceleration securely and at scale. No one can disagree with this. L4-L7 services chaining for physical and virtual devices is another killer use-case Mike enlightens the reader with, and at the ONS Solutions Expo this year, we are showing exciting demos to illustrate service automation using dynamic L4-L7 service chaining. Do not miss out our demos at Cisco Booth 302. We are also showing demos focused on Open Stack integration with ACI, another area of growing interest.

I strongly recommend you to attend Mike’s Theater presentation titled, “Role of Policy in SDN” on March 5, 12.40 PM. Learn all the benefits and value-props that a declarative policy based ACI approach brings to network operations that is today crippled by imperative management, lack of scalability and flexibility. You will be excited to discover how our Cisco ACI team is working with Open Stack, Open Daylight initiatives and driving an open eco-system. Mike will also touch on how ACI helps bring visibility across both physical and virtual infrastructures, and how today’s SDN network overlay problems can be overcome. Shashi Kiran posted a fantastic blog on SDN overlays in ACI deployments, last week, and it makes compelling read in the context of Mike’s session.

We wish you a great ONS summit this year and look forward to seeing you at Cisco Booth 302

Tags: , , , , , ,