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Introducing OpFlex – A new standards-based protocol for Application Centric Infrastructure

Continuing on its tradition of contributing and committing to open source and open standards over the last 25 years, today Cisco announced “OpFlex” – a new open standards-based protocol for Application Centric Infrastructure that has been submitted into the IETF standardization process. We believe this will accelerate multi-vendor innovation in data center and cloud networks to drive operational simplicity, lower costs and increased agility.

Why is this required?

Traditional SDN models today function on the basis of an imperative control model with a centralized controller and distributed network entities that support the lowest common denominator feature set across vendors such as bridges, ports and tunnels. As the network scales, the controller becomes a bottleneck due to the need to maintain increased state, and starts to impact performance and resiliency. Likewise, because the applications, ops and infrastructure requirements need to be translated into network configuration, it impacts agility and introduces a manual learning process, requiring app developers to describe their requirements in low-level constructs.

OpFlex1

If we contrast that with the vision of the ACI model with the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), ACI adopts a declarative management approach. This model abstracts applications, operations and infrastructure providing simplification and agility. By distributing complexity to the edges, it also increases better scalability, and allows for resiliency – i.e. the data forwarding can still continue to happen even if there is no controller. It further provides ease of use with self-documenting policies automatically deployed or cleaned up from devices as necessary. All of these help circumvent the issues seen in traditional SDN models.

For this declarative model to work across a multi-vendor environment, to translate and map policy definition into the infrastructure, there has hitherto been no standard protocol to do that across physical/virtual switches, routers and L4-L7 network services. This vacuum has led to the development of “OpFlex” – a new open standard recently submitted to the IETF.

Who is contributing to OpFlex?

Several industry leaders and practitioners are actively involved in the standardization process. These include Microsoft, IBM, Citrix and SunGard Availability Services, in addition to Cisco.

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Delivering True Elasticity in Virtual Workspace Scale

You may have caught this week’s announcement from Citrix on the availability of XenDesktop 7.5 (see announcement here).  With this release, desktop virtualization implementers can tap into new elasticity and efficiencies of provisioning, managing, and scaling-up/down their deployments in real time, while also tapping into the simplicity and performance of Windows app delivery with XenApp 7.5 .

If you’ve followed Citrix and Cisco’s journey in this space, you know that our two companies enjoy an extensive track record of collaboration and innovation in breaking down the CAPEX, complexity and performance barriers associated with delivering virtual workspaces to users, on any device, anywhere.  We’re continuing to innovate on this front, bringing together a combined vision and architecture for desktop virtualization and enterprise mobility.   Cisco and Citrix continue to accelerate the ROI and performance of desktop virtualization, and are making it easier than ever for environments of all sizes to get into VDI and app virtualization quickly and cost-effectively.  Our new Solution Accelerator Paks for Citrix XenDesktop are a great proof point of that.

I want to now turn to a couple concepts that are central to this latest announcement.  The notion of an elastic infrastructure approach for these deployments, that straddles public and private cloud to enable ‘capacity-flexing’ in terms of virtual desktop scale.  If you look at the underpinning, you see this notion of stateless, elastic provisioning present in the very core of our joint solution – the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS).

Give UCS Manager a Test Drive

Give UCS Manager a Test Drive

The DNA of the UCS architecture is based on answering the question “how would you build a server to deliver a pervasive virtual infrastructure that flexes in real time to changing, shifting workload capacity demands?”  Cisco answered that question four years ago with a compute platform purpose-built to deliver the goods, founded on our stateless provisioning and operations model.  This wire-once, touch-less environment for flexing desktop virtualization capacity up and down, is a foundational pillar for the Citrix announcement.  If you haven’t had a chance to test-drive UCS Manager and Service Profiles, check out the UCS Advantage.

Equally important is the reality that our customers need and want a balanced portfolio approach to how they consume IT services both via the public and private cloud.  This hybridized approach provides insulation, security, and eliminates dependency and risk associated with any one delivery model.  This is central to Cisco’s “World of Many Clouds” – and on that note you may have seen the news coming out of Cisco Live Milan on Wednesday January 28th – available here.

If you’re at Cisco Live Milan this week I encourage you to stop by our Data Center booth and learn more about:

  • UCS provisioning and management of workloads like VDI and app virtualization
  • Desktop virtualization solution architectures with ecosystem partners
  • Cisco UCS Invicta delivering accelerated VDI performance
  • Much more

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New Year, New Challenges, New Successes: SDN Bringing Agility, Security and TCO to Campus and Branch Networks

Before recently taking on a new role as Cisco’s vice president and general manager of Software-Defined Network (SDN) with the enterprise networking group, I served as the vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Unified Access portfolio and led the expansion of the Catalyst 2k, 3k and 4k series product line, which has seen a lot of growth and developed a strong customer base over the past couple of years. Cisco invests heavily in R&D for these products, and has introduced many innovations improving security, application visibility/control, energy savings and converged wired and wireless infrastructure over the past few years.

But as I shifted into my new role and looked back at some of the new Unified Access solutions we introduced alongside our system architecture, I saw a curious disconnect: in some cases, it was getting more difficult for our customers to quickly take advantage of our new innovations.                                                                                                         

At Cisco, we design products to make customers’ lives easier and more productive. Not to gather dust because they’re too hard to figure out!

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Cisco Announces Open and Secure Hybrid Cloud with the Collaboration of Cloud Providers and Technology Partners

In my previous blog ,  I noted that IT is increasingly transitioning towards an IT service broker role, taking advantage of multiple sourcing options to become an intermediary of cloud services offered to the business constituents.  The role of IT as a broker of cloud services enables them to add value on behalf of its users by dynamically aggregating, integrating, and customizing the delivery of multi-cloud services (whether public, private or a combination of both) to best meet the needs of the business.

It’s now time for Cisco to take the next bold step in leading the evolution of the “World of Many Clouds,” journey with our partners.  Today, at Cisco Live! in Milan, we announced important news in the significant expansion of our Cloud Portfolio to enable a new Fast IT model. The new products and services in Cisco’s extended cloud portfolio include:

These solutions that we will detail in coming blogs are designed to provide major benefits for your organization as you move to the world of many clouds. They allow you to

  1. Reduce  your exposure to risk in cloud environments.
  2. Enhance your business flexibility with a choice of consumption models in the world of many clouds.
  3. Increase agility and reduce TCO by managing and automating your cloud environments

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Cisco Intercloud

Our breakthrough hybrid cloud solution, Cisco InterCloud, which lowers total cost of ownership for organizations and paves the way for interoperable and highly secure public, private and hybrid clouds.  The addition of InterCloud to our Cloud portfolio also broadens Cisco’s commitment to openness and shows the unique value our partner-led model.

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Delivering Mobile and Cloud Services Now Gets End-to-End Network Control

From the Data Center across the WAN to the User -- with unique Citrix integrations for the Cisco Open Network Environment

In the long history of the Cisco and Citrix partnership, the two companies have worked together to deliver great solutions to many of the largest corporations in the world.  About 16 months ago, we enthusiastically agreed to expand the solution sets we jointly deliver beyond Desktop Virtualization to also address the Mobility, Cloud Services and Cloud Networking marketplaces.  Few other alliances in the industry can match the breadth and depth of the integrated solutions Cisco and Citrix are developing.

This week at Cisco Live in Milan, I now have yet another reason to stay excited about our partnership with Cisco… the new announcement from Cisco about Cisco ONE (Open Network Environment) Platform supporting “both” datacenter and enterprise networks.   Read More »

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