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Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and the Application Virtual Switch (AVS)

Following our launch of the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), we continue with our series exploring in more detail key aspects of the ACI policy model and partner ecosystem. In Part 1 of my series on ACI, we looked at why application policies were an ideal model to build infrastructure automation around, and how application policies are better suited to mirror business objectives and requirements than traditional IT infrastructure policies. The key benefits for customers end up being vastly greater degrees of automation, process improvement and business agility.

In Part 2, we looked into one example of the difficulty in deploying and managing applications and the level of complexity that must be overcome to truly automate application-oriented tasks: application-specific network services and security policies (as well as a separate post on the partner ecosystem for application services and security solutions that support the ACI model).

In this Part 3, we’ll look at one of the components of the ACI fabric that we also announced, the Application Virtual Switch (AVS). We’ve received a number of follow-on questions in this area that can be addressed here. By way of introduction, I had the chance to sit down with AVS and Nexus 1000V Director of Product Management, Balaji Sivasubramanian to talk about the new AVS and how it relates to both ACI and the Nexus 1000V virtual switch (Balaji also had a related post on AVS):

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Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI): Application Network Profiles for Security and Network Services

Now that we’ve announced the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), everyone is trying to come up to speed quickly on this new fabric architecture and the power that this revolutionary application-centric model will bring to data center and cloud automation. One of the best insights to ACI I have seen comes in the form of a 140 char tweet from Insieme TME Joe Onisick (he also blogs at who says, “Building intelligent networks is a fool’s errand. Build a network to take orders, then teach it to do so in a business relevant language.” If you truly understand that, you’ll easily grock ACI. The rest are implementation details.

Joe Onisick tweet

What ACI has done is backed off from all the network complexity in trying to build more and more intelligence directly in the fabric. Building the network to be externally automated can centralize the intelligence and control, while simplifying the design and operations of the fabric greatly (also a goal of SDN, by the way). But what’s really new about ACI is that the programmability and orchestration of the infrastructure (how it takes the orders) is now done in a business-relevant policy language/model.

In a pre-launch post, I looked at why application policies were an ideal model to build infrastructure automation around, and how application policies are better suited to mirror business objectives and requirements than traditional IT infrastructure policies. The fact is that applications are the brains of the business and best reflect the activity and dynamic requirements of the business. Application policies are inherently business-relevant. The key benefits for customers end up being vastly greater degrees of automation, process improvement and business agility. [Note: It will be left as an exercise for the reader to prove that OpenFlow, e.g., is not a business-oriented policy language.]

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Channel Partner Webcast – Virtual Networking for Hyper-V Environments

Hyper V First SlideCisco and Microsoft have a developed a powerful alliance in the data center that extends the value of the Cisco Unified Fabric, Unified Computing System, and Unified Network Services through leading-edge integrated solutions with Microsoft Windows Server, Hyper-V and System Center. These integrations provide an opportunity for Channel Partners to deliver differentiated solutions that address their customer’s most pressing business and  IT challenges.

BOTE2013_Winner_ProdAwardsThe Nexus 1000V Switch for Microsoft Hyper-V stands out as an example of how Cisco and Microsoft are collaborating to offer integrated solutions to customers and partners. The Nexus 1000V extends Cisco networking benefits to Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V deployments and provides a consistent operational model across physical and virtual environments. Cisco was the first company to integrate with Hyper-V and the industry is taking notice. Nexus 1000V for Microsoft Hyper-V was recently recognized as Best of TechEd 2013 in the Virtualization category.

If you’d like to learn more about Nexus 1000V for Microsoft Hyper-V, you’re in luck. Redmond Channel Partner is hosting a webinar on Cisco Nexus 1000V: Virtual Networking for Hyper-V Environments on Thursday, July 25, 2013, at 11am PT / 2pm ET.

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Cisco at Microsoft WPC 2013 Video Collection

Cisco intern, Renee Yao recording videos from WPC 2013

Cisco intern, Renee Yao recording videos at WPC 2013

The Cisco Data Center team recently wrapped up a great week at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2013. Cisco’s VP of Unified Computing Marketing, Jim McHugh took the opportunity to interview Cisco experts about how Cisco UCS provides an optimal platform for Microsoft oriented data centers and creates opportunities for channel partners to drive new customer engagements and increase sales.

Special thanks Renee Yao for producing these videos as part of her summer internship at Cisco. Renee is a rising senior at UC Berkeley and has done a great job for the UCS marketing team this summer.

Check out our WPC 2013 video collection to learn about joint channel programs and solutions from Cisco, Microsoft and our partners.

Empowering Cisco and Microsoft Partners in the Data Center

Listen as Brian Allison, Cisco Director of Partner Solutions discusses how the Cisco Microsoft Alliance is creating business opportunities for channel partners.

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Highlights: Cisco Prime Network Services Controller at Cisco Live Orlando

A couple weeks ago, we wrapped up a very successful Cisco Live event in Orlando for more than 20,000 attendees. During the conference, we announced a new name for our software product formerly known as Cisco Virtual Network Management Center (VNMC).

The new name for VNMC is Cisco Prime Network Services Controller – and in the video interview below, I highlighted some of our new innovations with this product.


Over the last couple of years, Cisco Prime Network Service Controller (Prime NSC) has developed into Cisco’s primary management platform for Layer 4 through 7 network services deployment in a cloud or virtualized environment. Today the software supports multiple different use cases for network services, with several hundred customers worldwide.

Cisco Prime Network Services Controller is the control point and management software for the InterCloud solution – providing VM workload mobility between a private and public cloud while retaining the same IP address and Layer 2 connectivity. As outlined in a recent blog post by my colleague Gary Kinghorn, our new Nexus 1000V InterCloud solution for hybrid cloud was a big hit at Cisco Live.  During the InterCloud demonstration at Cisco Live, we showed how this Cisco-created technology allows enterprise organizations to extend their Layer 2 network to public clouds like Amazon Web Services.

The screenshots below illustrate how InterCloud enables the secure migration of a VM to a public cloud environment:

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At Cisco Live, we also announced our new fabric path technology called Cisco Dynamic Fabric Automation (DFA). This new Unified Fabric technology enables simplified network automation and provisioning for both physical server and VM deployments. In the DFA architecture, Cisco Prime Network Services Controller is responsible for managing network services insertion – including firewalls and load balancers – when provisioning or moving VMs.

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