When was the last time you won the lottery? If you are like me, it’s a pretty rare occasion indeed. The same probability can be applied to increasing the budget allocation for any business and especially for service providers. What can service providers do to save money now, enabling them to invest in new services and boost revenues? Network functions virtualization (NFV) comes to the rescue, with help of course, from software defined networking (SDN), and open source innovations.
SDN and NFV represent a significant change in networking as we currently know it. Together and separately, both target cost savings, operational complexity, and network optimization – and both hold much promise for the operator. As with all things offering great potential rewards, one must balance these benefits and address the associated risks accordingly when deploying them.
For service providers, the data center is leading target for SDN and NFV deployments. Given all the activity focused on cloud computing, content delivery, and anything-as-a-service (XaaS) offerings, the service provider data centers must advance across many fronts (security, automation, mobility, reliability analytics, and provisioning) to be successful.
If you aren’t familiar with the Cisco IT eStore and Cisco Prime Service Catalog, this intro video provides a great overview:
Now we are very proud to announce that Cisco IT has won not just one more, but four new honors: the 2014 “Stevie” Awards from International Business Awards.
The Stevie Awards, which honor and generate public recognition of achievements and positive contributions of organizations and working professionals, feature some of the most exciting work in business and information technology.
This year, the team behind the Cisco IT eStore was recognized with a Gold Stevie Award for Information Technology Team of the Year. As this internal implementation of Cisco Prime Service Catalog grows in scale, this team has been working to rapidly deploy new services (whether desktop applications or data center infrastructure) and new capabilities (e.g. a new mobile interface) to provide a single, one-stop shop for all IT services at Cisco. It’s effectively the internal “IT app store” within Cisco for all employees.
For more information on the Cisco IT eStore initiative, you can check out the case study here, my write-up on the eStore here, Adel du Toit’s blog post on the Cisco IT initiative here, and a great overview session from our recent Cisco Live conference here.
Cisco IT also took home a Silver Stevie Award for their innovative work on our internal Lightweight Application Environment (LAE) – an innovative platform-as-a-service deployment that’s also powered by Cisco Prime Service Catalog as well as other tools including Jenkins and OpenShift.
Within Cisco, we have a private cloud – dubbed the Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services (CITEIS) – that offers infrastructure-as-a-service with ready-to-go server, storage, and network resources for development teams. Together, CITEIS and the Lightweight Application Environment allow Cisco application developers to focus on application coding and testing, not on the underlying infrastructure or platform. The LAE is called “lightweight” because the ordering and provisioning processes places very light demands on developers.
For both and CITEIS and LAE, the eStore (Cisco Prime Service Catalog) gives developers an easy-to-use, self-service portal for ordering and provisioning their application environment – providing on-demand access to the infrastructure as well as the required operating system, middleware, and system functions without manual provisioning by Cisco IT. All the resources they need are delivered just a few minutes after the developer orders them. Here’s an example screenshot:
You can read more about how Cisco IT enabled this Lightweight Application Environment in this blog post here.
The final two Stevie Awards for Cisco IT this year were a Silver & Bronze medal for the Information Technology Executive of the year – awarded to our very own V C Gopalratnam (Cisco IT Vice President) and Michael Myers (Cisco’s Senior Director of Information Systems for Cloud Orchestration and Platform Service) respectively.
V C and Michael have played key roles in both the aforementioned CITEIS and LAE initiatives, enabling IaaS and PaaS via the Cisco IT eStore and Cisco Prime Service Catalog. We’re excited that these executives are being recognized for their leadership, and we look forward to what lies ahead for the Cisco IT and eStore team going forward.
As the breadth and depth of the ACI solution continues to grow, so does customer interest. Many customers who have invested in, and continue to invest in, the Nexus 2000-7000 switches find the ACI vision very compelling. So, this leads to a logical question regarding how an existing Nexus 2000-7000 fabric will integrate with an ACI fabric.
In short, customers can leverage current Nexus products and add ACI capabilities to their data centers in an incremental manner. Integrating ACI into an existing Nexus environment will not require replacement of existing Nexus switches. The benefits of ACI policy can be extended to apps on both physical and virtual servers within the existing Nexus fabric. This can be achieved as follows (double click on the graphic below to launch the 3+ minute presentation):
In this scenario, the existing Nexus fabric is serving as an optimized transport for an ACI overlay solution. However, this solution is very different from other industry overlay solutions. It’s different in that the ACI overlay provides integrated/embedded support for both physical and virtual servers, it allows use of existing L4-7 infrastructure, while providing the automation functionality of the ACI policy model.
I was speaking with a customer today at VMworld and, unlike many discussions, which are focused on the infrastructure (servers, storage, networking), this one turned primarily on the application. This person was describing to me his need to match the server to a new set of applications he is being asked to support and then what to do with all the data being generated. With much of the conversation at the show focusing on virtualization of resources, he made the point that consideration of the architecture itself – how servers, storage and networking is leveraged – was still critical to mapping the requirements of the application back to what that application lives on.
This is a trend we’re seeing more and more. A new breed of applications, and the increasing density of data, is driving a new way of thinking about the underlying infrastructure. Often, these applications are developed internally, leveraging many of the toolkits available on the market today, and delivered through a private or public cloud. These applications can be run from Read More »
Service provider customers expect more. The pace of change around us is not just constant but continuing to accelerate. To stay competitive with the nimble new players in the market, service providers need to change how they engage all of their end customers. Not exactly an easy challenge to overcome, but rapid and successful business transformation will put operators right in the middle of a world of new opportunities to capture customer mindshare. Exciting times are ahead!
So, what will it take for service providers to save money on their current service offerings, enabling them to invest and expand their businesses? Positive outcomes are made possible by an open, agile, and application centric approach, combining emerging Software-Defined Network (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), and Open API technologies … not just to the network… but to all of their business processes.