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Cisco Unified Computing System and Microsoft Windows Server 2012: Get the Most Complete Solution

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 is a huge step forward in Microsoft’s evolution and provides an industry-leading platform for virtualization that can provide the foundation both for on-premise private clouds and for host-provided public clouds in support of Microsoft workloads such as Exchange, SQL Server, and SharePoint.

The main new features of Windows Server 2012 include:

• Virtualization for a heterogeneous environment with industry-leading capabilities for Microsoft Windows and Linux workloads

• Enhanced manageability, supporting large-scale server management with the same simplicity as single-server management

• Capability to run any application in any cloud using a common feature set for both on and off-premises deployment.

Windows Server 2012 delivers tremendous server virtualization capabilities and a flexible cloud platform with enhancements in the Microsoft Windows Server 2012 operating system as well as many enhancements in Hyper-V. Our Cisco UCS server platform – which is certified for Windows Server 2012 – in combination with the Cisco Nexus 1000V Series and Cisco Data Center VM-FEX provides an optimal platform for Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V deployments, enabling organizations to take full advantage of the Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V capabilities and also to extend them through integrated Cisco solutions.

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Security Policies Made Easy in New Virtual Network Management Center 2.0

As VMworld swings into high gear on a bright Monday morning in San Francisco (well it promises to be bright, once the sun comes up here), we continue our series on the virtualization product updates we are unveiling this week (see earlier news on the new Nexus 1000V and the ASA Cloud Firewall). One of the exciting new components of our Nexus 1000V virtualization stack is the Cisco Virtual Network Management Center (VNMC) 2.0, part of the Intelligent Automation portfolio.

VNMC 2.0 is a template-driven policy management tool that is now bundled with Cisco Virtual Security Gateway (VSG) and Cisco ASA 1000V Cloud Firewall. This new release now has expanded capabilities to configure the security of your virtual cloud environment. Because VNMC 2.0 is such a step up from prior releases, and fewer people are familiar with its functionality, this is going to be a bit longer of a post than usual (but with lots of screen shots).

Let’s take a look at some of the key VNMC features and how it works with the two virtual firewalls:

Resource Objects for ASA 1000V

Cisco VNMC abstracts the devices it manages. As part of provisioning, devices are configured to point to Cisco VNMC for policy management. Cisco VNMC discovers all devices and lists them under the Resources pane. In addition to the ASA 1000V, the Resources pane has other resources such as Cisco VSGs, VSMs, and VMs.

VNMC screen shot
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The Next Evolution of Cisco’s Nexus 1000V Virtual Switch to be Featured at VMworld

Remote Active - Standby VSM pairs

VSM's across remote data centers

Nothing sits around and gets stale for long at Cisco (outside the break rooms anyway). On the heels of shipping our Nexus 1000V 1.5.2 release earlier this week (which you can download from here), we are ramping up to show the upcoming generation of the virtual switch next week at VMworld in San Francisco. This new major release 2.1 will be going into beta in October, and will represent a quantum leap in ease of deployment and management, as well as greater security for cloud environments.

Features of the new Nexus 1000V 2.1 Release:

  • vCenter Plug-in – Provides a holistic view of the virtual network to the server administrator from within VMware vCenter. A Nexus 1000V dashboard in vCenter shows the virtual supervisor module (VSM) and virtual ethernet module (VEM) details, such as VSM health status, license information, PNIC information, connected VM’s, et al.
  • Support for Cisco TrustSec – Extends Cisco TrustSec security solutions for network-based segmentation of users and physical workloads to virtual workloads, leveraging Security Group Tags (SGT) for defining security segments. Data center segmentation and consistent security policy enforcement can now be implemented across physical and virtual workloads.
  • Cross Data Center High-availability – Supports split Active and Standby Nexus 1000V Virtual Supervisor Modules (VSMs) across two data centers to implement cross-DC clusters and VM mobility while ensuring high availability. In addition, VSM’s in the data center can support VEM’s at remote branch offices. Read More »

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New Nexus 1000V Virtual Switch 1.5.2 Release Now Available

Nexus 1000VToday Cisco made a new version of its Nexus 1000V virtual switch available for immediate download. The newly available Nexus 1000V 1.5.2 release can be downloaded for a 60 day free trial from here. As most of you know because you’ve been reading all my blog posts over the last year, the Nexus 1000V is the edge switch for virtual environments, bringing the network edge right up to the virtual machine, by residing in the hypervisors and connecting virtual ports to the physical network and beyond. The Nexus 1000V is the foundation for our entire virtual network overlay portfolio, including all of our virtual L4-7 application and security services, our cloud orchestration software, VXLANs and more.

The new release supports the latest version of VMware’s vSphere hypervisor, and includes vPath 2.0 with service chaining between virtual services. I wrote a blog post a couple of weeks ago about the importance of vPath in inserting virtual services into data center networks, and now we also have a great new white paper available on vPath service insertion technology. The most important enhancement in vPath 2.0 is that you can now insert multiple services in the path between the source and destination addresses in your virtual network.  Read More »

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VMware’s SDN Strategy is No Threat to Cisco, says Mike Fratto

For those of you wondering about the impact to Cisco of Software Defined Networking and the combined SDN strategy of VMware and Nicira, I point you to a very rational and well-articulated article by Mike Fratto of Network Computing, that basically says Cisco doesn’t have much to worry about. (Enterprise Strategy Group had already said something similar, by the way).

Specifically, Fratto says:

Mike FrattoThe lack of programmability in existing networking hardware is certainly a problem, but VMware’s acquisition of Nicira does not mean that Cisco and its ilk will be marginalized… It does mean the role and management of the physical network is changing, and I think Cisco is further ahead than most of its competitors in creating a vision for the next phase of networking.

I couldn’t agree more. Since Cisco live! when we announced our Cisco ONE strategy for network programmability as well as the advances in our Nexus 1000V portfolio for virtual network overlays, I have been posting on many of the same points.

My take here was that the VMware-Nicira acquisition did not portend a strategic break with Cisco, and while there are some obvious overlaps in our product lines, there are still a number of areas of collaboration, cooperation and interoperability. The virtual network infrastructure is just one piece of a larger software stack and the differentiation will likely be decided in the orchestration, management and applications built on top of the newly programmable infrastructures sometime down the road. Read More »

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