Data Centers and Clouds are all about applications. The efficacy of a data center or cloud deployment is a function of how quickly applications can be stood up, scaled or de-commissioned as required. As new architectures continue to evolve, data center and cloud architects are constantly on the lookout for innovative ways to further simplify operations, lower costs, increase responsiveness and provide flexibility of consumption models.
In this context, I’d like to take the opportunity to profile Pulsant – a cloud service provider from the United Kingdom. They provide colocation services across 10 data centers with managing hosting and innovative hybrid services that are continually evolving.
A short while ago, I had the pleasure of having Martin Lipka who heads the Pulsant network architecture team participate in a talk with me sharing deployment insights with customers at the F5 conference in Edinburgh. He talked about the simplicity of Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), and the synergy with F5’s BigIP and BigIQ offerings down the line. For the benefit of the broader humanity that was not in the room with us, I requested him to sit down again and distill some of his views. Martin was kind enough to oblige and shared his insights on diverse topics including how he expects data center architectures to evolve, candidly confessing why he was wrong about automation trends and how he feels the job roles will morph in the coming years. Interestingly, some of his sentiments were also echoed by Stefaan Hinderyckx, Network and Security Director of Dimension Data Europe. Stefaan is not in this video, but he had joined our session as well and it was good to see everyone excited about the possibilities of network, security and data center transformation.
A fresh case study from Pulsant is also posted here.
Also, at the same conference, I was invited to sit down with F5 EVP Dave Feringa and SVP Calvin Rowland along with my colleague Patrick Schmidt who’s the Managing Director overseeing the EMEA region, where we discussed the partnership, momentum with Cisco ACI and scaling our joint marketing activities.
Guest post from Lori Mac Vittie (@lmacvittie) from F5 Networks
How you provision all the network things matters
Polymorphism is a concept central to object-oriented programming. The notion of polymorphism is used to extend the capabilities of a basic object, like a mammal, to specific implementations, like cats or dogs or honey badgers, even though they don’t care about such technical distinctions. A good example of this is cats and dogs, which are both of the type “mammal” but that “speak” in a different voice.
Data traffic has grown dramatically in the recent years, leading to increased deployment of network service appliances and servers in enterprise, data center, and cloud environments. To address the corresponding business needs, network switch and router architecture has evolved to support multi-terabit capacity. However, service appliance and server capacity remained limited to a few gigabits, far below switch capacity.
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 an hardware based multi-terabit layer 4 load-balancing, traffic steering and clustering solution on the Nexus 7000 and 7700 series of switches.
In a few days at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of Cisco Live. This year we are expecting record attendance exceeding 20,000 participants, 9 amazing keynotes, 600 sessions, live demos at world of solutions, big analyst and partner presence, and last but not least, the opportunity for you to meet and network with top minds in high-tech. If you are new to Cisco Live and feel overwhelmed by the grandness of the event, let me assure you that you are not alone. I have been there before. I have set out in this blog to give you an easy walkabout of Cisco Datacenter highlights, particularly the Cisco ACI key activities over the duration of the event.
Much like you I will also be eagerly looking to attend John Chambers’ majestic keynote that starts the proceedings on Monday, May 19. John in his unique style will lead with the Theme “Tomorrow Starts Here” covering leading industry trends such as Internet of Everything (IOE), Fast IT, and Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) among many others. So, do not miss this opportunity. I want to shift gears and take you on a fast cruise of Cisco Data Center and Cisco ACI highlights at the event.
In less than a year since the announcement, Cisco ACI has taken the industry by storm with a large customer base and several of the industry’s key partners such as Microsoft, Red Hat, Citrix, F5, et al endorsing and building joint solutions. There is so much excitement around ACI at this year’s Cisco Live. I want to give a structure to how I am planning to cover the topic in this blog. Essentially, I consider them as Cisco-led and Partner led.
Cisco has a packed agenda of ACI activities and announcements. Cisco APIC, which enables ACI Fabric mode on Nexus 9000 networks, will be available this summer along with a robust Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy that includes additional eco-system partners, Cisco Validated Designs (CVD), additional platform support and leading-edge hardware innovations across the portfolio. We are also introducing two new additions to the existing portfolio of Nexus 9000 to meet scalability, flexibility and performance requirements of standalone and ACI mode deployments.
Executive ACI speaking sessions feature prominently this year with Cisco President Rob Lloyd’s session “Infrastructure for the Agile Enterprise” keynote, May 20, 10 AM, at the North Hall. Rob’s keynote also features Soni Jiandani, who will present how ACI delivers agility. Rob Soderbery and Soni Jiandani are presenting a technology trends keynote (GENSK 1109) on May 21, 8.30 am, titled “Fast Track to Fast IT: Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure”, another choice from a catalog of exciting offers.
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.
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.