Cisco Blogs


Cisco Blog > Data Center and Cloud

Network Design for Automation

20140519-CISCO-spine-and-leafThere has been a lot of recent online discussion about automation of the datacenter network, how we all may (or may not) need to learn programming, the value of a CCIE, and similar topics. This blog tries to look beyond all that. Assume network configuration has been automated. How does that affect network design?

Automation can greatly change the network landscape, or it may change little. It depends on what you’re presently doing for design. Why? The reason is that the programmers probably assumed you’ve built your network in a certain way. As an example, Cisco DFA (Dynamic Fabric Automation) and ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) are based on a Spine-Leaf CLOS tree topology.

Yes, some OpenFlow vendors have claimed to support arbitrary topologies. Arbitrary topologies are just not a great idea. Supporting them makes the programmers work harder to anticipate all the arbitrary things you might do. I want the programmers to focus on key functionality. Building the network in a well-defined way is a price I’m quite willing to pay. Yes, some backwards or migration compatibility is also desirable.

The programmers probably assumed you bought the right equipment and put it together in some rational way. The automated tool will have to tell you how to cable it up, or it  might check your compliance with the recommended design. Plan on this when you look to automation for sites, a datacenter, or a WAN network.

The good news here is the the Cisco automated tools are likely to align with Cisco Validated Designs. The CVD’s provide a great starting point for any network design, and they have recently been displaying some great graphics. They’re a useful resource if you don’t want to re-invent the wheel — especially a square wheel. While I disagree with a few aspects of some of them, over the years most of them have been great guidelines.

The more problematic part of this is that right now, many of us are (still!) operating in the era of hand-crafted networks. What does the machine era and the assembly line bring with it? We will have to give up one-off designs and some degree of customization. The focus will shift to repeated design elements and components. Namely, the type of design the automated tool can work with.

Some network designers are already operating in such a fashion. Their networks may not be automated, but they follow repeatable standards. Like an early factory working with inter-changeable parts. Such sites have likely created a small number of design templates and then used them repeatedly. Examples: “small remote office”, “medium remote office”, “MPLS-only office”, or “MPLS with DMVPN backup office”.

However you carve things up, there should only be a few standard models, including “datacenter” and perhaps “HQ” or “campus”. If you know the number of users (or size range) in each such site, you can then pre-size WAN links, approximate number of APs, licenses, whatever. You can also pre-plan your addressing, with, say, a large block of  /25′s for very small offices, /23′s for medium, etc.

On the equipment side, a small office might have one router with both MPLS and DMVPN links, one core switch, and some small number of access switches. A larger office might have one router each for MPLS and one for DMPVN, two core switches, and more access switches. Add APs, WAAS, and other finishing touches as appropriate. Degree of criticality is another dimension you can add to the mix: critical sites would have more redundancy, or be more self-contained. Whatever you do, standardize the equipment models as much as possible, updating every year or two (to keep the spares inventory simple).

It takes some time to think through and document such internal standards. But probably not as much as you think! And then you win when you go to deploy, because everything becomes repeatable.

Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Cisco IOx in Cisco Live 2014: Showcasing “fog computing” at work

HAK51833_rDevelopers, IT managers, CIOs, Networking gurus, operational technologists in the manufacturing, transportation, energy and other industries have been bombarded lately with many concepts, news and visions about M2M, #IoT, #IoE, Digital Enterprise and more.

Well, Cisco is doing more than just talking. During Cisco Live in San Francisco (#CLUS): we are showcasing, presenting and enabling developers, ISVs, customers and solution providers to have hands-on experience with IOx and start “creating” solutions using fog technologies. Read More »

Tags: , , , ,

What CXOs Need to Know About the Cloud

May 8, 2014 at 3:45 pm PST

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is changing the business and IT landscape, fueling unprecedented growth and disruption. As such, just thinking about cloud deployment is not enough. Organizational leaders need a cloud strategy to help future-proof their business and better meet objectives.

In fact, according to Gartner, organizations that continually monitor cloud computing trends and subsequently update the enterprise’s cloud strategy, will likely avoid costly mistakes and garner the most value from market opportunities over the next few years.

Cloudy Future SlideShow by Gartner

 As CXOs adopt cloud strategies, what key trends should they keep in mind?

Here’s a short list for consideration:

Trend #1: Prepare for Growing Cloud Workloads

Today’s world isn’t just a world of many clouds, but also a world of growing cloud workloads.

According to Cisco’s Global Cloud Index:

Annual global cloud IP traffic will reach 5.3 zettabytes by the end of 2017. By 2017, global cloud IP traffic will reach 443 exabytes per month (up from 98 exabytes per month in 2012).

Global cloud IP traffic will increase nearly 4.5-fold over the next 5 years. Overall, cloud IP traffic will grow at a CAGR of 35 percent from 2012 to 2017.

Global cloud IP traffic will account for more than two-thirds of total data center traffic by 2017.

In this video, find out how these growing cloud workloads are driving IT to become a broker of cloud technologies.

Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (CiscoEWN) at Cisco Live US enters its second year!

May 8, 2014 at 10:11 am PST

Screen shot 2014-05-08 at 9.26.42 AM

This blog post was written by Priscila David in collaboration with Anuja Singh and Rima Alameddine

Exactly one year ago, during the launch of the Cisco Empowered Women’s Network at Cisco Live Orlando, we asked the audience: “What would you do if you were not afraid?” On that day, we couldn’t have imagined the incredible journey we would take in answering that question and, ultimately, in building the Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (CiscoEWN).

CiscoEWN was created out of a collaboration between myself, Priscila David (Director, Systems Engineering, US Commercial East); Rima Alameddine (Sales Director, Enterprise NY); and Anuja Singh (Manager, Systems Engineering, Public Sector).  All three of us work in the field sales organization at Cisco and have daily interactions with customers and partners. We realized that Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 reasons Operations Technology Pros shouldn’t miss Cisco Live San Francisco (May 18-22)!

Reasons IoT Folks Should Attend CLUSIf you’re an Operations Technology (OT) pro, then the buzz about the Internet of Everything (IoE) should have you pretty excited--because it will likely impact your work. You won’t want to miss a chance to find out more about it at Cisco Live San Francisco May 18 -- 22.

Cisco has been hard at work building solutions to address your OT challenges. Cisco Live San Francisco is the place to find out the details…

Here are five (5) reasons not to miss this pivotal event:

#1. A Targeted OT Learning Track: We’ve put together a special program to bring OT and IT issues together and make it crystal clear how the Internet of Everything (IoE)–the convergence of machines, sensors, processes, people and data–is going to make your job a lot more interesting. Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,