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Ecosystem for Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) Tackles Application Agility

November 8, 2013 at 8:00 am PST

Yesterday, Nov 6, Cisco unveiled details of the Application Centric Infrastructure with an ecosystem of partners that share our common view -- IT is in need of a transformation to create the Application Economy.   Some key technology leaders spoke about the application lifecycle impact of an open and centralized policy model for complete infrastructure automation, including configuration, operation, monitoring, and optimization.  I’d like to recap a few of those comments here today.

During the ACI announcement, Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President in Microsoft’s Windows Server and System Center Group (WSSC), said that

virtualization has unshackled applications from the hardware in the past.  But now with ACI we can do much more.  So first of all, we can have the applications be able to describe their needs for more rapid provisioningSo with the view we can get across physical and virtual, we can see what is happening with the application, we can optimize the infrastructure for the application, and do more rapid troubleshooting.

…the integration with Microsoft cloud OS and UCS is really remarkable.  Literally you have a common way to automate everything from the application, down to the operating system, down to all of the hardware level components.  But ACI gives us the ability to do some really remarkable things..

Imagine how Exchange, Sharepoint and Linc -- being able to be shipped with ACI policies that now describe out how exactly the network should be configured, how it should be optimized, and automatically be provisioned across physical and virtual in a holistic way.  That’s the kind of value we are going to be able to deliver together.

On The Official Microsoft Blog,  Satya Nadella, EVP, Cloud and Enterprise, Microsoft,  blogged:

“…These new solutions are designed to improve business agility and reduce cost by driving infrastructure automation in support of core business processes and applications. This next-generation infrastructure will deliver increased application performance, resource pooling, visibility, automation and mobility through:

· Converged ACI stacks that include fully integrated versions of Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, System Center 2012 R2, SQL Server, Exchange and SharePoint

I introduced the IT challenge posed by apps that behave differently in my earlier ACI post so now I want to point out that the new converged ACI stacks will fully integrate the operating system, orchestration, applications, server and network infrastructure to provide an enterprise customer with the application agility to rapidly deploy Exchange, SQL Server, and SharePoint, scale and upgrade them, and also to decommission them.

Many next generation distributed cloud applications are being written on open source platforms.  For a view on what ACI means to a leading open source cloud platform, OpenStack, let me quote what Jim Whitehurst, President and CEO of Red Hat, said at the launch:

…there’s a whole set of functionality that is required to run a portfolio of true production applications and be able to run a diverse set of applications and to make sure that you can actually guarantee the performance levels that you need. The great thing about ACI is it provides that really differentiated functionality that enterprises need, even on open platforms, but at the same time, it does it with open standards, open APIs, and an open ecosystem so that customers get the benefit without being locked in and maintain the flexibility they are looking for going forward.

For more on Openstack and ACI, see this video – Application Policy and OpenStack – which explains how the DevOps community can extend agile processes to network infrastructure.

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Cisco Validated Designs for Cloud – Part 3 – Flexpod

November 9, 2012 at 4:00 am PST

Over the past two weeks, Tom Nallen introduced the concept and benefits of the Cisco Validated Design , then Laszlo Bojtos,  illustrated this concept with the Cloud Service Assurance for Virtualized Multi-Services Data Center 2.2 Cisco Validated Design, with a specific emphasis on the integration with Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud .

This week I talked with John Kennedy, a Cisco engineer who put a lot of energy on the FlexPod CVDs.

“So John, what is FlexPod ?
FlexPod is the result of collaboration between NetApp© and Cisco to create a cost-effective, scalable solution for cloud applications as well as standard virtualization support.  The FlexPod(t), a pre-defined, pre-tested solution, includes the compute, networking, and storage customers need in a validated (as in CVD) package. But unlike other validated solutions, FlexPod can be scaled up or out, not just one or the other.

What need does FlexPod address ?
It’s probably been a while since you had to source a motherboard. Many of us have done this in the past, in order to get desktop computer system that met our needs. Pre-configured systems were limited in their abilities, and custom design was beneficial.

But choices of personal computer systems have increased, and most folks don’t need to customize anymore, preferring to buy an entire computer system that’s been tested and designed to meet their needs. On the other hand, customers want to be able to expand the system they have to keep up with new technology, or to add capabilities.

Customers need to support multiple types of applications and have multiple purposes for their infrastructure, and the Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs) for FlexPod reflect that need. The architectures have been validated by engineers from both companies to ensure performance and stability.
But that’s just the beginning. The Cisco Validated Design documents include multiple configurations with multiple types of application and operating systems  Read More »

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Cisco Continues Its Leadership in Driving Flexibility and Productivity for Telepresence End Users

Productivity and flexibility are key words that we hear many times in the work place.

What do they mean to IT administrators in relationship to telepresence meeting room scheduling? In the past this was a complicated process that meant that Microsoft Exchange server had to be taken off line to do this type of upgrade. Now with a new feature capability from Cisco TelePresence TMSXE, IT administrators can install TMSXE quickly and easily with step by step instructions without impacting Microsoft Exchange during the upgrade. This means there is no impact to end-user’s productivity because the upgrade is seamless and transparent to them. TMSXE continues to empower end users by giving them more control and flexibility to schedule telepresence meeting rooms when and where they need without needing IT support to do so. TMSXE frees up IT resources to focus on more pressing issues vs. having to be the telepresence meeting room scheduler for an organization. Read More »

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