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Are you ready for F5 Agility next week – Edinburgh gets ready to play host to this exciting event

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It is a back-back, double-header for me this weekend, as I head from an action-packed week in Orlando to exotic Edinburgh, Scotland for F5 Agility. F5 is Cisco’s premier partner and I can’t wait to be in the thick of action at the Edinburgh International Convention Centre next week. From “you are lucky to be there” to “WoWs”, I am fast becoming the envy of my friends at Cisco. For me personally, it is the second EMEA F5 Agility event, and last year I had a blast at the Bella Center, Copenhagen. These things aside, there is a lot for me to report about Cisco’s participation in this event.

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You probably know F5 recently announced a new CEO. F5’s incoming CEO Manny Rivelo in his keynote themed around “Innovate, Expand and Deliver”, will take you on a tour of current market trends, how F5 has grown in market momentum under John McAdam’s tenure, the evolution of the F5 Platform from simple load balancer to ADC to support Cloud based business models, the growing importance of enterprise security, recent F5 acquisitions, and last but not the least the growing eco-system of Partners. I recommend getting started with Manny’s keynote. Manny is also hosting invitation only roundtables to key verticals Retail and financial earlier in the morning, same day.  Following Manny, Dean Darwin, Marketing SVP of F5 will deliver F5’s forward looking vision.  Dean’s session aligns well with Manny’s keynote in that he will address how to Innovate and continue to be a thought leader, Expand business models (like As A Service) and Deliver customer satisfaction and financial excellence.

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There is plenty of excitement Cisco is bringing to this event centred around Cisco’s award winning SDN strategy, Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) .

Cisco Exec Shashi Kiran is joining F5 Exec Calvin Rowland and fellow Cisco Exec Patrick Schmidt in a panel session May 20. For those of you not familiar with ACI, this panel session is a great opportunity to learn how Cisco and F5 are expanding their partnership, how their combined thought leadership is advancing the SDN landscape, and customer successes and momentum experienced by Cisco ACI, F5’s BIG IP & BIG IQ in the marketplace. The panellists are seasoned industry experts and I promise it will be a treat to the attendees.

If you somehow missed the panel session, there is room to cheer. Shashi is hosting a breakout session the next day, May 21, 11.30 local time. What’s unique about this Breakout Session? Well, you will get to not only hear Shashi eloquently walk you through the role of Cisco ACI in today’s Application-Oriented Economy, but also see customers and partners join him on stage and share their success stories with ACI.  Shashi will discuss how emerging applications are placing huge demands on Data Center Infrastructure and how grossly unprepared they are to meet the same.  Shashi will then introduce Cisco ACI, an open, scalable, programmable SDN solution that helps address these infrastructure challenges. Shashi will illustrate how Cisco’s open architecture enables seamless integration of F5 into ACI’s policy framework and how the joint solution brings unprecedented agility and end-end L2-L7 accelerated application delivery. Shashi’s breakout as I said earlier, also features a unique Customer and Partner segment towards the end. Martin Lipka from Pulsant corporation and Stefaan Hinderyckx from Dimension Data will join Shashi on stage to share their ACI experiences. How often do you get this comprehensive experience in a breakout session, one that is devoid of a sales pitch.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?

That is not all. Cisco ACI brings you additional customer engagement opportunity in the solutions expo hall. We are featuring cool demos showcasing our joint solutions namely, ACI-BIG IP and ACI-BIG IQ on both May 20 and 21, during the entire duration of the expo hours. Stop by the Cisco demo booth to get a personal walk-through of our solution working. Our product experts are available to engage you in white-board type sessions and to compliment the demos, we also run short duration presentations in the Cisco theatre at periodic intervals. Should you desire, we are happy to meet you in 1-1 meetings, so let us know how we can enrich your experience at the event.

For all the hard work we all do at the event, there is plenty F5 offers to let us relax and enjoy. The evening event on May 20 allows attendees to step back to a time of knights and ladies, including one of Scotland’s most famous royals – Mary Queen of Scots.

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Agility attendees will have the ability to see all that the castle has to offer, from Mons Meg, one of the largest cannons in the world, to the huge collection of weapons and armoury in The Great Hall, the Stone of Destiny and the Royal Palace Crown Jewels. Network with your fellow attendees while enjoying tasty food and drink, entertaining music, knowledgeable guides, and more are awaiting you on Wednesday 20th May.

I am eager to see you all in Edinburgh next week. There are some useful links for you to check out before your visit on how Cisco ACI and F5 work together on the innovation front.

Visit www.cisco.com/go/acif5

 

 

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Looking for Action? Cisco ACI at Citrix Synergy 2015 or Disney World – or Both

What attracts me to Orlando In the hot and humid month of May this year? There are numerous synergies from the Disney World to Orlando’s pristine nature that enhances my experience there. But the one I am really looking forward to this year is the Citrix Synergy 2015, a premiere event for Cisco Data Center Professionals and its Customers and Partners. After a hiatus of two years, I am happy to be back at this event, this time leading the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) strategy and showcase how ACI integrates with Citrix’s NetScaler, a market leading Application Delivery Controller (ADC) solution.

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The theme this year at the event centers around software-defined workplace and how it enables companies find new ways to work better. Cisco ACI aligns very well with this theme given that ACI is a market leading software defined networking (SDN) solution.

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Citrix Synergy Event 2015 is particularly exciting to me as our joint Cisco ACI and Citrix NetScaler solution has picked considerable customer momentum since its introduction into market last year. Woolworth, DU and several other top customers have given testimonials recently on their positive experiences with ACI-NetScaler joint solution, and I look forward to hearing more of these at this event. In addition, the visionary keynotes, technology training, access to industry’s top thought leaders and the customizable agenda and experience makes Citrix Synergy a valuable investment of my time year after year.

Where should you start? There is no better place than Mark Templeton’s keynote, to start the Synergy expereince. Mark kick-starts the proceedings on May 12 by sharing his unique perspectives on how Citrix is leading the transition to the “software-defined workplace” where true mobility transformation occurs, giving businesses and people new ways to work. Mark will cover areas of innovation across the Citrix portfolio, including product and solution updates with strategic partners like Cisco in virtualization, mobility, networking, cloud and more. Be ready for a few sneak peeks and surprises.

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After the keynote, the world of solutions beckons you with a  glittering collection of technology showcase from industry-leading vendors, and I want to welcome you to the Cisco booth #202 where it is action unlimited. This year we are offering solution demos and Mini-Theater presentations featuring Desktop virtualization, Networking and SDN, Mobility, and Cloud technologies to name the highlights.

 

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Cisco ACI – Citrix NetScaler joint solution features prominently at the Cisco demo Pod and the Mini Theater this year. Stop by our booth and get a live demo from our experts, and learn how to automate deployment of NetScaler L4-L7 services using ACI policy framework.  In fact, we can give you a modular walkthrough of the solution whether your interest centers around the ACI Fabric or Cisco APIC policy controller or Citrix NetScaler. In addition, we can provide you quick overview presentations at our Mini theater that runs round the clock. There will be daily presentations on the ACI-NetScaler joint solutions and I hope the theater experience will complement the insights you gain via demos. We also have white-boards to dive deeper into cross-architectural discussions, should you decide to explore further. There is never a dull moment at our Cisco booth this year as Cisco UCS with Citrix desktop virtualization, DAAS and Mobility demos offer a rich treat of latest in technology innovations from Cisco and its Partners. The Cisco Mini Theater also feature NetApp, Nimble and Nvidia partner presentations as Cisco and Citrix truly bring the best-of-breed solutions for different market segments so customers can choose specifically based on their Data Center needs.

There are other exciting engagement opportunities for you to explore ACI-NetScaler solution at the event.  Check out Session SYN 212, “Update on NetScaler and Cisco Integration” on May 13, 11 AM at the Valencia Ballroom A.  Raj Gulani, a power packed Citrix dynamo, will deliver this session and many of your questions about SDN, Application demands on infrastructure will get answered. So, I’d recommend this as a must-attend.

And my good friend Mike Brennan from my UCS marketing days is presenting at the Cisco sponsored session on the topic “Architecting your next generation workspace with Cisco & Citrix”. If you can spare an hour the afternoon of May 13, I’d suggest you attend this session in room W135B. Mike brings unique perspectives from a design and deployment perspective and has authored several Cisco CVDs on UCS-Citrix desktop virtualization solutions.  If you somehow have to miss this timeslot, Mike is doing another breakout on May 14 with Rob Briggs at the Citrix sponsored session on the topic, “Architecting Innovation with Cisco and Citrix”. There are also hands-on Labs, Geek sessions, and Citrix Innovation awards for attendees to take advantage of to get a broad experience.

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As I write this blog, I just learned that the Cisco APIC has been adjudged the “Best of Interop 2015” in the SDN category. It is very timely, and a fitting testimonial to compliment the rapid customer adoption of ACI.  Cisco ACI-Citrix NetScaler has gained significant market traction and several customers in process of deploying the joint solution.

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The Cisco ACI-Citrix NetScaler solution is a key pillar of the Cisco-Citrix strategic relationship. In the past year, the joint solution has recorded several milestones in the form of customer proof-points, customer deployments and endorsements and Open standards initiatives such as NSH and Opflex at the IETF. Citrix NetScaler is committed to a robust roadmap in evolving the solution with ACI and stay tuned for more news from us at future events.

In closing I want to touch on the entertainment scene.  A customer appreciation event is scheduled for Wednesday May 13, at the Howl at the Moon Piano Bar and we look forward to seeing you there. The final night party on May 14, is another Citrix specialty as we all unwind, connect with friends, and experience an exclusive night for Synergy attendees only at Universal Studios Florida. I look forward to meeting you all in person next week.

Related Links

www.cisco.com/go/acicitrix

www.cisco.com/go/aci

 

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Cisco APIC Makes Best of Interop 2015 Finalist

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With Interop less than three weeks away, we are excited to learn that Cisco APIC, the SDN controller for our Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) fabric, has been selected as Best of Interop 2015 Finalists  in Software Defined Networking (SDN) category. As you may recall, when we announced ACI back in Nov 2013, we mentioned that APIC would be the software controller for the application-centric policy model, and would be available in Q3, CY 2014. In a short span of less than a year, APIC has gained broad industry adoption with more than 300 Customers either deploying or in production already.

Interop Vegas, 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 last 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 this Best of Interop award.

But wait, there’s more…

If you are not familiar with ACI or APIC yet, let me take the opportunity to tell you about APIC and why I think it is a finalist for the Best of Interop.

The Cisco APIC is the unified point of automation and management for the ACI fabric and health monitoring. The Cisco APIC is built with open APIs and an open application-centric policy model designed to simplify the provisioning, monitoring, and management of applications across the data center. Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) is a fabric architecture with centralized automation and policy-driven application profiles designed to make the infrastructure highly responsive to the needs of applications, while significantly simplifying the data center and cloud operational model.

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The Cisco APIC is built on the SDN principles of an extensible/programmable centralized controller, standardized north-bound API’s, a protocol for communicating with and orchestrating data center devices and network nodes, and  features and agents within the network infrastructure to support the controller’s policy model and respond appropriately.

The Cisco APIC uses an application-centric policy model rather than network-centric SDN policies that do not adequately reflect business requirements. Cisco ACI is an open ecosystem of management, services, and security partners that incorporate best-of-breed solutions across physical and virtual infrastructures. Customers have a choice of flexible workflow automation and orchestration solutions on top of APIC and the ACI fabric, including OpenStack, VMware cloud automation solutions, Microsoft System Center, Cisco UCS Director, and more, rather than being locked into a specific automation model.

The APIC software is delivered on turn-key UCS C-Series server appliances, so the user out-of-box experience is simple.

Apparently these stellar traits weren’t lost on the Best of Interop judges as it made it to Finalist status.  We sincerely hope this bad boy brings home the prize too – stay tuned for more excitement to come.

Related Links

www.cisco.com/go/apic

www.cisco.com/go/aci

 

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The Power of the ACI Toolkit: The “Snapback” App

I recently wrote in my blog about a partner, WWT, that quickly developed a network replication solution across dual DC using the programming interface on the APIC.  Our own development team, just published a complete management rollback mechanism for the APIC using the ACI toolkit’s high level APIs and the APIC’s RESTful APIs.  It took them just a few short days to accomplish this.  This is a testament to the fantastic capability our customers and partners have for rapid feature development on this open programmable platform, the APIC and ACI fabric.

Cisco Insieme engineering team has introduced a new ACI toolkit feature to automate the snapshot and rollback of ACI fabric configuration. Why Snapshots and Rollback for Virtual Networks?  Virtualization introduced a powerful debugging and management capability when file based snapshots of state, data, and configuration of a virtual machine could be made at a specific point in time.  You could restore a previous state, restore lost data, and restart applications from a point in time using snapshots.  With network virtualization, you can store the state of the network, restore a previous configuration, and restart the network with its applications from a point in time.  There are tremendous applications for this capability for DevOps teams testing and debugging distributed applications to optimize performance at scale or to recover from some introduced error or failure.

Snapshot Feature: The tool called “snapback” allows administrators to take live snapshots of a running ACI Fabric configuration either immediately or at some predetermined time in the future.  It allows the snapshots to be performed as a one-time occurrence or on an ongoing schedule.  All snapshots are stored in a version control system that allows full viewing of any version of the configuration and the differences between versions.  Policies can be specified in version control to meet compliance requirements.

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Rollback Feature: Rollback is allowed to any previous configuration version and can be done as a full configuration rollback or as granular as per tenant. This enables certain tenants to be rolled back to previous configs, while certain others get to keep their current configs. All config files are readable and open JSON formatted text files. The Open interfaces of ACI enables easy integration of this “snapback” tool with third-party systems to develop integrated operations-focused solutions as it can be imported as a library, run from the OS command shell, or run as a web application.

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The source code of the toolkit with examples in GitHub, is available for you now to access and start building your own customized solutions using the APIC and ACI.

Related Links

http://acitoolkit.readthedocs.org/en/latest/snapback.html

https://github.com/datacenter/acitoolkit/

 

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Why Network Design in the Modern Era Has Kept Me from Retirement

Network Design in the Modern Era1In youth-oriented Silicon Valley, it’s risky to mention this, but I’ve been around for a long time. In fact, in theory I could retire! I already moved to a small town in the Pacific Northwest where the cost of living is low, and I could spend my days hiking in the mountains.

But actually I can’t retire. Why? The networking field is too interesting! In addition, modern networking, with its emphasis on design, applications, policies, and users, focuses on the same concepts that have interested me from the beginning. Not only that, but I firmly believe that with today’s network design tools, we are positioned to build networks that are faster, larger, and even more user-friendly than ever. How could I retire when that’s the case?

In the Beginning

I started my career as a software developer. This was long before agile software development became popular, but nonetheless there was a focus on agility and flexibility. The goal was to develop software that could be used in multiple ways to support a broad range of users. The focus was on user behavior, application modeling, systems analysis, and structured design. Read More »

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