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New VersaStack™ optimized for distributed workloads

It has been said that data is the new oil. Given the price of crude today, the metaphor seems to fit in that there is just too much data in the world, to the point we have no idea what to do with all of it. The data glut is driven by the sheer number of data-producing devices in use today due to factors such as Internet of Things, distributed application architectures, and as-a-service consumption models of the cloud.VersaSTACK

The burden of managing all these devices and data is falling squarely in the heart of the data center, disruptively so. The urgency to modernize data center architectures and infrastructures has never been arguably stronger. Specifically, it requires data center to support higher VM densities, more powerful computational processing, a highly responsive and intelligent network, as well as a high-performance data storage foundation that form tightly integration solutions that can be rapidly deployed and provisioned at the speed of business.

Cisco and IBM took on these challenges head-on when they collaborated to launch the VersaStack™, a next-generation, converged infrastructure that combines the innovation of the Cisco UCS Servers , Nexus Switches and the IBM Storwize 7000 Storage solutions. The initial VersaStack Cisco Validated Design (CVD) solution was designed to address the on-premise data center use cases wherein the UCS servers scaled dynamically up to 160 servers and the Storwize 7000 array scaling up to multiple petabytes of storage. It quickly became the blueprint for cloud-ready enterprise data centers that needed exponential scale for the next decade.

Cisco and IBM followed this success up by adding the next solution – VersaStack for private cloud build-outs to address the needs for the XaaS market. This solution combined Cisco UCS servers, Cisco UCS Director, Cisco Nexus® 9000, and IBM® Storwize V7000 Unified system into a single highly automated and scalable system.

Fast forward one year to today, VersaStack solutions now extend from the on-premise data centers and private cloud solutions to a scale out architecture to address the needs of the distributed data and application use-cases. This comes in the form of two additional VersaStack solutions that have been added to thereby enable VersaStack solutions to address the modern distributed workloads—within and across multiple data centers. This newest solution is based on Cisco UCS Servers and IBM FlashSystem V9000 running vSphere 5.5, and seamlessly handles mission-critical, I/O-bound workloads.

In addition, Cisco and IBM are addressing the requirements of smaller IT environments for medium-sized businesses, branch offices and retail stores. For these organization, we offered a VersaStack solution based on Cisco UCS Mini Servers and IBM Storwize V5000 array running vSphere 5.5, optimized for remote office/branch office that:

  1. Monitors and manages the infrastructure remotely from a single management point
  2. Requires a much smaller footprint
  3. Offers new levels of RAS (service profiles to move a server image quickly) to give new levels of geographic RAS to the ROBO use case. For example, a failed server can be replaced automatically within minutes, not days.

UCS MANAGEMENT

 

The advantages of having a single UCS management interface regardless of location include : being able to spin up new VMs 85% faster1 and reducing cabling complexity 75%2 than legacy data center management methods.

A quote from IT industry analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) validates the benefits of the single-pane-of-glass UCS solution:

VersaStack offers a vast improvement. It is a converged infrastructure solution that uses some of the most well-known and proven server, storage, and networking solutions in the industry. Pools of compute, network, and storage resources can be shared among many applications and reclaimed when not in use, driving utilization up and costs down. Pre-integrated and pretested, VersaStack saves IT from having to purchase the components individually, test them for interoperability, integrate them manually, and then test, refine, re-test, and finally deploy. Handling all this manually steals valuable time away from IT and application users, and will not provide the agility and flexibility that organizations demand. The same goes for ongoing management. VersaStack enables IT to manage all resources from a single pane of glass, and offers end-user self-service, saving organizations time and money.”1

In other words, enterprise data is more distributed than ever before and compounded with its exponential growth and ubiquity presents new demands on IT infrastructure. To manage this growth, enterprise IT teams have to operate far more efficiently, to do more with less and always faster. In this respect, perhaps the data is oil metaphor falls short. Unlike oil, the production of which can be manipulated downward, the data glut streams inexorably forward toward the Zettabyte Era and beyond. In the face of this daunting onslaught, Cisco and IBM teamed to produce the highly versatile and adaptable VersaStack that will serve as the converged infrastructure blueprint for the next decade. This is the kind of synergy that OPEC members can only dream about these days.

[1] ESG Lab Validation Report: VersaStack Converged Infrastructure from Cisco and IBM, December 2015
[2] VersaStack Customer Validation

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CCIE : ITD and RISE in CCIE Data Center

ITD and RISE are now part of CCIE Data Center:

https://learningnetwork.cisco.com/community/certifications/ccie_data_center/written-exam-v2/exam-topics

Intelligent Traffic Director (ITD) is a hardware based multi-terabit layer 4 load-balancing, traffic steering and services insertion solution on the Nexus 5k/6k/7k/9k series of switches.

Domain Written Exam (%) Lab Exam (%)  
1.0 Cisco Data Center L2/L3 Technologies 24% 27% Show Details
2.0 Cisco Data Center Network Services 12% 13% Hide Details
2.1 Design, Implement and Troubleshoot Service Insertion and Redirection

  • 2.1.a Design, Implement and Troubleshoot Service Insertion and Redirection for example LB, vPATH, ITD, RISE

2.2 Design, Implement and Troubleshoot network services

  • 2.2.a Design, Implement and Troubleshoot network services for example policy drivenL4-L7 services
3.0 Data Center Storage Networking and Compute 23% 26% Show Details
4.0 Data Center Automation and Orchestration 13% 14% Show Details
5.0 Data Center Fabric Infrastructure 18% 14% Show Details
6.0 Evolving Technologies 10% N/A Show Details

 

To learn about RISE (Remote Integrated Services Engine), please see: http://www.cisco.com/go/rise

To learn about ITD (Intelligent Traffic Director), please see: http://www.cisco.com/go/itd

http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/itd-load-balancing-traffic-steering-clustering-using-nexus-5k6k7k9k

 

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Server Load balancing with NAT, using Nexus switches: ITD

Server load balancer (SLB) has become very common in network deployments, as the data & video traffic are expanding at rapid rate. There are various modes of SLB deployments today. Application load balancing with network address translation (NAT) has become a necessity for various benefits.

Cisco Intelligent Traffic Director (ITD) is a hardware based multi-terabit layer 4 load-balancing and traffic steering solution on the Nexus 5k/6k/7k/9k series of switches.

With our latest NX-OS Software 7.2(1)D1(1) (also known as Gibraltar MR), ITD supports SLB NAT on Nexus 7k series of switches.

In SLB-NAT deployment, client can send traffic to a virtual IP address, and need not know about the IP of the underlying servers. NAT provides additional security in hiding the real server IP from the outside world. In the case of Virtualized server environments, this NAT capability provides increased flexibility in moving the real servers across the different server pools with out being noticed by the their clients. With respect health monitoring and traffic reassignment, SLB NAT helps applications to work seamlessly without client being aware of any IP change.

ITD won the Best of Interop 2015 in Data Center Category.

BOI15_Data_Center_728x90

ITD provides :

  1. Zero latency load-balancing.
  2. CAPEX savings : No service module or external L3/L4 load-balancer needed. Every Nexus port can be used as load-balancer.
  3. IP-stickiness
  4. Resilient (like resilient ECMP), Consistent hash
  5. Bi-directional flow-coherency. Traffic from A–>B and B–>A goes to same node.
  6. Monitoring the health of servers/appliances.
  7. Handles unlimited number of flows.

Documentation, slides, videos:

Email Query or feedback:ask-itd@external.cisco.com

Connect on twitter: @samar4

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ITD: Load Balancing, Traffic Steering & Clustering using Nexus 5k/6k/7k/9k

Cisco Intelligent Traffic Director (ITD) is an innovative solution to bridge the performance gap between a multi-terabit switch and gigabit servers and appliances. It is a hardware based multi-terabit layer 4 load-balancing, traffic steering and clustering solution on the Nexus 5k/6k/7k/9k series of switches.

It allows customers to deploy servers and appliances from any vendor with no network or topology changes. With a few simple configuration steps on a Cisco Nexus switch, customers can create an appliance or server cluster and deploy multiple devices to scale service capacity with ease. The servers or appliances do not have to be directly connected to the Cisco Nexus switch.

ITD won the Best of Interop 2015 in Data Center Category.

With our patent pending innovative algorithms, ITD (Intelligent Traffic Director) supports IP-stickiness, resiliency, consistent hash, exclude access-list, NAT (EFT), VIP, health monitoring, sophisticated failure handling policies, N+M redundancy, IPv4, IPv6, VRF, weighted load-balancing, bi-directional flow-coherency, and IPSLA probes including DNS. There is no service module or external appliance needed. ITD provides order of magnitude CAPEX and OPEX savings for the customers. ITD is much superior than legacy solutions like PBR, WCCP, ECMP, port-channel, layer-4 load-balancer appliances.

ITD provides :

  1. Hardware based multi-terabit/s L3/L4 load-balancing at wire-speed.
  2. Zero latency load-balancing.
  3. CAPEX savings : No service module or external L3/L4 load-balancer needed. Every Nexus port can be used as load-balancer.
  4. Redirect line-rate traffic to any devices, for example web cache engines, Web Accelerator Engines (WAE), video-caches, etc.
  5. Capability to create clusters of devices, for example, Firewalls, Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), or Web Application Firewall (WAF), Hadoop cluster
  6. IP-stickiness
  7. Resilient (like resilient ECMP), Consistent hash
  8. VIP based L4 load-balancing
  9. NAT (available for EFT/PoC). Allows non-DSR deployments.
  10. Weighted load-balancing
  11. Load-balances to large number of devices/servers
  12. ACL along with redirection and load balancing simultaneously.
  13. Bi-directional flow-coherency. Traffic from A–>B and B–>A goes to same node.
  14. Order of magnitude OPEX savings : reduction in configuration, and ease of deployment
  15. Order of magnitude CAPEX savings : Wiring, Power, Rackspace and Cost savings
  16. The servers/appliances don’t have to be directly connected to Nexus switch
  17. Monitoring the health of servers/appliances.
  18. N + M redundancy.
  19. Automatic failure handling of servers/appliances.
  20. VRF support, vPC support, VDC support
  21. Supported on all linecards of Nexus 9k/7k/6k/5k series.
  22. Supports both IPv4 and IPv6
  23. Cisco Prime DCNM Support
  24. exclude access-list
  25. No certification, integration, or qualification needed between the devices and the Cisco NX-OS switch.
  26. The feature does not add any load to the supervisor CPU.
  27. ITD uses orders of magnitude less hardware TCAM resources than WCCP.
  28. Handles unlimited number of flows.

For example,

  • Load-balance traffic to 256 servers of 10Gbps each.
  • Load-balance to cluster of Firewalls. ITD is much superior than PBR.
  • Scale IPS, IDS and WAF by load-balancing to standalone devices.
  • Scale the NFV solution by load-balancing to low cost VM/container based NFV.
  • Scale the WAAS / WAE solution.
  • Scale the VDS-TC (video-caching) solution.
  • Scale the Layer-7 load-balancer, by distributing traffic to L7 LBs.
  • ECMP/Port-channel cause re-hashing of flows. ITD is resilient, and doesn’t cause re-hashing on node add/delete/failure.

Documentation, slides, videos:

Email Query or feedback:ask-itd@external.cisco.com

Please note that ITD is not a replacement for Layer-7 load-balancer (URL, cookies, SSL, etc). Please email: ask-itd@external.cisco.com for further questions.

Connect on twitter: @samar4

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ITD Deployment with Transparent mode security devices

ITD (Intelligent Traffic Director) is getting a lot of interest about transparent (Layer 2) mode device support.

Here is a 10 minute video that shows step by step ITD deployment for Transparent mode security devices, such as Firewalls, IPS, IDS, Web application Firewalls (WAF), ASA, Cisco Sourcefire, etc:

ITD is a hardware based multi-Tbps Layer 4 load-balancing, traffic steering and clustering solution on Nexus 5k/6k/7k/9k series of switches. It supports IP-stickiness, resiliency, NAT (EFT), VIP, health monitoring, sophisticated failure handling policies, N+M redundancy, IPv4, IPv6, VRF, weighted load-balancing, bi-directional flow-coherency, and IPSLA probes including DNS. There is no service module or external appliance needed.

Solution Guide: ITD with Layer 2 Firewall / IPS / IDS

Here is more information about ITD: www.cisco.com/go/itd

Please send email to nxos-itd@cisco.com if you have any questions.

 

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