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Will Software Defined Networking Actually Happen?

As a writer for the IT media, conference speaker, and co-host of the Packet Pushers podcast, I cover emerging networking technologies often. The new tech that comes across my screen ranges in value from “I can’t believe that got funded,” to “Why has no one thought of this before?” and everything in between. As a big idea, software defined networking (SDN) seems to generate about that same range of responses from network engineers. Some networkers think that SDN is an extraordinary technology that’s going to change the world of IT. Others see SDN as yet another in a long string of quirky networking ideas that never gained acceptance. In fact, as I’ve read responses to my SDN-related content over the last few years, I believe that more folks are in that latter camp. SDN is a fad. SDN is a buzzword. SDN will go nowhere useful. SDN will eventually fail to have a universal impact.

I understand the cynicism. After all, for a long time, networking had lapsed in an innovation coma, with nothing especially exciting coming along to really shake things up. Yes, Ethernet’s gotten faster. And that BYOD thing got everyone excited a couple of years ago. But for the most part, we design, build, and operate networks the same way today that we did fifteen or more years ago. The core underlying protocols have grown up or had new knobs and levers added, but generally speaking, if a networker of the past fell out of a time warp and into a design project today, it wouldn’t take them too terribly long to catch up. Read More »

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Deliver High Performance Cloud Services with the new ASR 1001-X

At CiscoLive this week, I am proud to announce the launch of the new Aggregation Services Router, the ASR 1001-X.

photo 1The ASR 1001-X is the latest addition to the ASR 1000 family of routers that packs 20Gbps forwarding capacity and 8G of Layer 3 Crypto  throughput in a compact 1RU form factor!

In my earlier blog post I highlighted the need for connecting data centers to share and scale cloud services on demand and achieve flexibility and availability that is required by the cloud. As data centers continue to grow so does the need for more power and cooling, while rackspace continues to become a rare commodity. Talking to customers they wanted a platform with a smaller footprint but with higher performance and hence the ASR 1001-X was born. 

Some of the key benefits of the ASR 1001-X we are highlighting at CiscoLive are:

  • Investment Protection: Pay-as-you-grow forwarding throughput upgradable from 2.5 to 5,10 and 20Gbps
  • Robust Security: Up to 8Gbps of Suite-B encryption combined with Layer 2 MAC Security.
  • Data Center Interconnect (DCI): For workload mobility, high-availability application clusters and layer 2 extension for legacy applications support.
  • Cisco IWAN: Application Visibility and Control, AppNav and Performance Routing enable inexpensive business-class Internet links as a WAN transport
  • Advanced Routing: Locator/ID Separation Protocol (LISP) to enable Host mobility, Ingress traffic load-balancing, high VPN scale, and IPv6 transition
  • Route Reflector: Up to 13M IPv4 routes (selective download)
  • Multimedia Edge: Cisco Unified Border Element (CUBE) Enterprise Edition to offer 16k calls
  • Ease of Management: Seamless integration and management with Cisco Prime Infrastructure.

I am often asked how each one of the benefits will help our customers so I wanted to talk about some of the common use cases where customers will see the largest benefit of the ASR 1001-X. For this blog I will cover in detail the Data Center Interconnect (DCI) use case and I will cover more use cases in future blog posts.

The Data Center Interconnect must provide secure access to satisfy a key requirement for the consumption of services from the cloud. Before the advent of the cloud, the network traffic that flowed in the interconnecting network fabric or the IP NGN was unidirectional -- it flowed from the client to the server in the network and back to the network client. Cloud and virtualization has made the network traffic multi-dimensional. The network traffic not only moves to and from client and network server it can also move across servers that are located in geographically dispersed data centers that are interconnected using DCI technologies. VMware virtual machine motion is an example of that. Based on this criteria, the ASR 1001-X supports the following DCI technologies:

  • Virtual Extensible LAN Services
  • Overlay Transport Virtualization
  • Virtual Private LAN Services
  • Ethernet over MPLS
  • Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol v3

Please stay tuned for more in my next blog. I will talk about how the consumers of the cloud require the same great application experience when services are moved to the cloud and how the ASR 1001-X can help to deliver a better user experience.

 

 

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How are Cloud Services Challenging the Network?

The seemingly endless demand for Cloud Services is driving the need for more data center capacity. This trend is also driving the need for greater bandwidth and intelligent networks for users to access these Cloud services. It is not just Enterprises driving demand for data center capacity from companies like Salesforce.com or Amazon Web Services by using public Cloud services.  Social media companies like Facebook,  Google and Yahoo are expanding their own data centers to meet escalating user growth. So how are companies going to change their data center infrastructure to meet this growing demand?

From an Enterprise perspective, the Cloud business model is too compelling to ignore. The Cloud offers an elastic model that allows infrastructure capacity to be increased and decreased on demand. The Cloud’s usage-based model helps enterprises increase business agility and reduce costs by reducing or eliminating the need for their own data center infrastructure. Despite all the benefits, some enterprises have been cautious about moving to the Cloud because of concerns about availability, security, and application performance.

So how can Cloud Service Providers convince Enterprises that their Cloud services address these concerns? By ensuring that the Cloud provider infrastructure -- that includes servers, networking equipment, applications, and services -- are highly available, secure, tightly interconnected and offer excellent application performance. This will enable the Cloud providers to further differentiate their services from other providers and monetize the cloud based revenue opportunity. It is important to note that some Enterprises are also offering their own Cloud services to create new revenue streams. Apple’s iCloud is a perfect example for an Enterprise delivering cloud services from their own data centers or private cloud.

So how will Enterprises and Service Providers deliver scalable, secure and optimized applications from the Cloud? The evolution of networking infrastructure to meet these demands is commonly referred to as IP next-generation networks (IP-NGN). The IP NGN provides the network infrastructure that connects users and enterprises to the Cloud with high-availability, leveraging cloud resources across geographically distributed data centers using Cisco’s  data center interconnect (DCI)  technologies.

Cisco first addressed this trend with the Cisco 7200 Series of routers, however with the growing demand for bandwidth it soon became necessary to develop a new platform that could handle multiple services, with higher availability, higher throughput, enhanced security and an optimized application experience. The new platform was the Cisco Aggregation Services Router 1000 Series . Both Enterprises and Service Providers have embraced the ASR 1000 across the globe and demand has driven the need for different sizes of ASR 1000 platform with different throughputs and port density without compromising on the ASR 1000 core values.

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E-VPN and PBB-EVPN Take Data Center Interconnect to the Next Level

Tina-lamBy Tina Lam, Product Manager

MPLS based Layer 2 VPN has been around for over 10 years since the inception of IETF Pseuduowire Edge to Edge (PWE3) Working Group. Many drafts and standards have been added, since then, to address different applications and to improve scale and convergence in different topologies. L2VPN as a whole is widely deployed in both service providers and enterprises, from Ethernet services, to fixed and mobile convergence, to enterprise campus layer-2 transport.

Recently, one emerging driver that has been picking up a lot of momentum is to use L2VPN for Data Center Interconnect (DCI). Data centers are often situated in different locations, to be geo-redundant for the purpose of workload mobility and business continuity. At the same time the physical location of the data center has to be transparent to users and to applications. Hence the need for layer-2 connectivity between sites. While Ethernet over MPLS (EoMPLS) and Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS) have been used for this purpose, DCI presents new requirements and challenges not fully addressed today.  To keep the data center always on, and to utilize all the resources and links as efficiently as possible, data centers need all-active redundancy and load balancing. The technology should be as simple as possible to provision and manage Read More »

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Data Center Interconnect using nV Edge Clustering

Data Center Connections using “nV edge”

The ASR 9000 product family has recently come out with a new feature called nV Edge (nV = Network Virtualization).   This feature unifies the data center edge control, data and management planes. So, I’ll note a couple things here on this feature and then tell you why I think it has potential to be truly awesome.

My good friend Rabiul Hasan just wrote  a proof of concept document just posted to Design Zone that provides  the configuration and setup details.  I encourage you to go check it out here.

Read More »

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