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Must-Knows About DevOps, Cisco Open NX-OS and Ansible

You may wonder what the terms “DevOps, Cisco Open NX-OS and Ansible” have to do with each other. If you plan to visit AnsibleFest 2015 in San Francisco, stop by the Cisco table to learn more.


The DevOps approach has been embraced and pioneered by Web 2.0 customers for some time, and now we’re seeing the trickle of that coming to an Enterprise customer near you. The simple reason is the ability to bring operations and development closer together, enabling faster deployments of applications without breaking the infrastructure. Cisco colleague Luca Relandini expands on DevOps here.

The Cisco Open NX-OS is designed to support the DevOps approach. Shane Corban shares Six Key Points What OPEN means for NX-OS. The concept behind Open NX-OS is to enable operators to make changes in a more programmatic way that drives automation and efficiency in the infrastructure without compromise on security. Visit the developer community to learn and find more scripts using the capabilities of Open NX-OS.

OpenNXOS Nov2015

As part of the NX-OS openness, agentless tools like Ansible leverage NX-API to gather real-time state data and to make configuration changes on Cisco Nexus switches. To stay up to date on Ansible solutions, visit the Cisco marketplace.

In this Oct 9th SDxCentral DemoFriday webinar, we showed how Day 0, 1, 2 operations can be accelerated with Ansible. And to stay up to date on the latest Cisco NX-OS Ansible Module Docs, visit the GitHub repository.



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Composable Infrastructure Part 4: Infrastructure as Code

How do you treat hardware like software? That question sounds like a contradiction, but we’ve been helping customers answer this question for the past six years with Cisco UCS. When you abstract all configuration and identity of hardware and transform it into software defined infrastructure (SDI), or better yet, policy driven infrastructure, you’re moving down the path of managing the “infrastructure as code.”

An essential aspect of this automated management is encapsulating the best practices of your server, storage and network experts as policies and templates. Cisco describes these as Service Profiles. The Service Profiles combined with the open Application Program Interface (API) in UCS provide a common “language’ for provisioning and configuring the infrastructure across the different types of devices. As we examined in a previous blog in this series, the combination of true SDI plus best practices defined in Service Profiles makes sure routine tasks are implemented consistently and correctly to reduce risk. Our customers are receiving tremendous benefits using Service-Profiles today with their existing UCS blade and rack systems, and we have extended this same management framework to our composable infrastructure.

Here’s where it gets fun:  DevOps and Infrastructure as Code

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Network Automation for DevOps

I am only going to say this once.

I am only going to say this once.

This is our third episode for what I have personally termed the ‘NX-OS’ exposed series.   The first two have been about programmability.  Exploring the exposed interfaces, Object Models, the NX Tool kit and more of the NX-API framework that enables DevOps teams to respond more quickly. [TWTV 176 – Open NX-OS Programmability and TWTV 180 – NX-API Rest/Object Models].


Today’s show dives into the automation piece.  That simultaneously higher level conversation covering what an organization really cares about, why IT exists and how we finally brought data center switching into the automate-able value chain.

Network automation is an integral part of the overall infrastructure automation. Yet, it has been largely left out of the DevOps movement.

Automation is central to achieving a truly agile datacenter.  DevOps has been the cultural movement working towards the realignment of disparate function involved in the IT value stream.  It is the modern, ‘digital,’ equivalent of an optimized manufacturing line.

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Halloween can be scary. Automating your network doesn’t need to be.

Some random, yet strangely connected, thoughts the night before Halloween…

  1. Zombies can be scary:


  1. Death Metal* can be scary:

Click here to listen.

  1. Learning new skills and using new tools to automate your network can appear to be scary if you don’t have a coding background. But that doesn’t need to be the case…

In a previous blog post, I discussed Cisco’s SDN Strategy for the Data Center. I mentioned that it is built on 3 key pillars: Application Centric Infrastructure, Programmable Fabric, and Programmable Network. Regarding the 3rd pillar, I wrote that network programmability has largely been the domain of big Web SP’s, and/or those whose propellers seen to spin faster than others. However, the reality is that tools are available that are useful for networks of pretty much any size, and the tools are within reach of pretty much everybody.

Rather than rattle off a list cool features that are part of Programmable Network (some of which are summarized here), I thought it more useful to consider common things network people actually do on a daily basis, then show how we can apply programmability tools to do those things with, for lack of a better phrase, “the 3 S’s”:

  • Speed – enabling you to do things much faster;
  • Scale – enabling you to do things to a much larger group of devices; and
  • Stability – enabling you to make far fewer errors (thereby also increasing Security…oops, now that’s 4 S’s…)

In upcoming posts, we will consider use cases such as switch provisioning. For example, you need to put a bunch of VLANs on a bunch of switches. Unless you have a battalion of minions to carry out your wishes, this can be a tedious, time consuming task. There is a better way, and we’ll show you how.

What’s that? You say you’re a network geek, but you moonlight as a server admin? You’ve been using Linux tools to monitor and troubleshoot servers and want to use the same tools for the network? Okay, we can cover that too because tools like ifconfig and tcpdump are all part of the party.

If you can’t wait for the future posts and/or you want to dive deep, this recorded webinar should tide you over.

Anyhow, I need to go carve a pumpkin now…Happy Halloween!

*For music aficionados…Yeah, I know – the link was Heavy Metal not Death Metal, but I used one of my own songs…and this is about as close to Death Metal as I get. That whole guttural screaming thing never worked for me…

Photo compliments of



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Composable Infrastructure, Part 3: “What is it??”

“Did you say compostable infrastructure? That means using a biodegradable cardboard chassis that can go in the compost bin, right?”  :)   This conversation is more common than you think right now as people are introduced to this for the first time.   So what exactly does composable infrastructure mean?  Perhaps the best description I’ve heard comes from James Leach who recently told me “our customers need us to wrap code around the server, not sheet metal.”   I think that concept gets at it pretty well, and no surprise since he’s one of the people behind our M-Series Modular Servers and Cisco System Link technology.  Still, it’s early days for this concept in the industry and many customers we talk to haven’t been exposed to the term.

We took some time recently to interview Jed Scaramella from IDC to help explain it all.  Here’s another segment in that series, this one focused on answering the question, “What is Composable Infrastructure?What Is CI Screen Capture

Composable infrastructure is is emerging out of two trends: disaggregated servers and software-defined infrastructure. Both are prerequisite capabilities: you need be able to take humpty dumpty apart AND put him together again. Disaggregation is where we unbind local shared storage and network I/O from the processor and memory.   Subsystems are no longer bound by the server chassis or the traditional motherboard. Then, with a unified control plane and API, these physical and logical resources are pooled and management software composes the resources on demand, so the system can be created to conform to the unique requirements of the workload. That’s the software-defined part.

Path to “Infrastructure as Code”

While many are just beginning to talk about composable infrastructure as a future strategy (“Houston, we have a vision…”) Cisco has been executing on disaggregated systems and software defined infrastructure since the introduction of UCS, through three key areas of innovation:

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