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InterCloud Plus Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud

Cisco continues to roll out innovations that will enable the next generations of multi-cloud computing.  I’m a product manager working on Cisco’s Cloud Management software, and we’re all about the high-level, self-service, automatic provisioning of services that the end-user cares about.  The network just moves ones and zeros, and all protocols of interest (HTTP, SSH, RDP, SQL, etc.) work fine over TCP/IP.  The hypervisor takes care of putting that pesky motherboard chipset and storage bus into a black box, right?  The end-user doesn’t care about that stuff, or at least doesn’t want to have to care about it.

A common perspective, except among the engineers who manage the network, is that network infrastructure is a bunch of mysterious plumbing that “just works” and how it does what it does doesn’t matter.  Indeed, many vendors in the “cloud” arena would like to perpetuate this perspective on the network.  They would like you to believe a bunch of dumb pipes can carry traffic and that determination of the traffic (content, flow, etc.) is determined at higher levels in the stack.

In some cases, this is true, but operating this way doesn’t unlock anything new.  The model they describe would be brilliant if all of your network requirements were defined in 1998.  Few companies can afford to operate technology today like they did in 1998 and remain competitive.

Cisco is announcing a new Nexus 1000V (N1KV), and this one changes the game.  In brief, the Nexus 1000V is the foundation of the networking services that Cisco brings to virtual computing.  The N1KV can be managed using the same NX-OS commands and practices used to manage the Nexus 5K and 7K switches, and extends network control down to the VM and virtual port into which a VM is “plugged in”, even across different vendors’ hypervisors.

The N1KV is also the platform for additional L2 and L3 network services such as those provided by the vASA Firewall, vNAM, and VSG.  The new Nexus 1000V InterCloud extends this ability to cloud service providers, such as Amazon, but is “cross-provider” (in fact, it doesn’t even depend on the Cloud Service Provider).  For me, in my role as a Cloud Product Manager, this is an important new addition to basic networking capabilities, and is exactly the kind of thing that Cisco can and should do in its role as “Networking Giant” to open up the promise of hybrid or multi-cloud.

I have a mental image of what this can do, and I tried to put this into images to the right. Animation would have been better, I just don’t have the Flash skills to put it together for a quick blog post. I envision a virtual machine as a ghostly “physical” server tower with network cables plugged into it. These network connections can come from end-users in a client-server model, or any of our web-and-mobile constructs. After all, we still are end-users connecting to machines. Of course, the “client” for a compute function could be another compute function, so there is a network cable coming from another nearby ghost server. These ghost servers can today float from blade to blade thanks to most mainstream virtual machine managers (VMM) and a virtual switch like the N1KV, and the cords stay connected throughout. With the new N1KV, that VM can float right out of that VMM and into another VMM (such as across VMware datacenters, or even from VMware to Hyper-V), or out to a public or hosted provider. The cord just magically uncoils to remain connected wherever that machine goes! I love magic.

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The N1KV provides that cable that can float after its ethereal virtual machine.  It also provides the platform to maintain monitoring by the vNAM, even as the machine moves.  You simply can’t economically achieve this using basic dumb pipes. Add to this the new Virtual Network Management Console (VNMC) InterCloud management capabilities.  In order for that cord to stay connected, there do have to be network switches or routers along the way that understand how to make that network cable follow the machine.  VNMC InterCloud manages these devices, but adds another particularly important capability: actually moving the workload.

VNMC InterCloud adds the ability to discover virtual machines, and convert them to a cloud-provider’s instance format, move what could possibly be a fairly large set of files, and get that machine started back up in a far-away environment, with seamless network consistency. VNMC InterCloud is like a puff of wind that pushes the ghostly VM from my corporate VMWare-based cloud to float over to my hosted private cloud. Remember, ghosts can float through walls.

This is groundbreaking.  Workload mobility is one of those hard-to-do core capabilities required for all of us to realize the promise of multi-cloud, and it requires a network that is both dynamic and very high performing.  I’ve been looking forward to this from Cisco for some time now.

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Primer on Cloud Confidence

February 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm PST

We had some sneak peeks at CiscoLive in London but as you probably know by now, this stuff was just formally announced last week.  Several demos worth looking at give you the foundation for what is important. Shashi Kiran is leading this effort and you can always count on a good quote:
“Cisco takes Unified Fabric to the next level delivering compelling customer value in an evolutionary manner, we offer a switch with the industry’s highest 40GbE density per rack unit, the simplest solution for the hybrid cloud model, and the most extensible network controller.”
Interesting….tell us more…
Three areas of innovation:  How we Scale (Nexus 6000), how we enable the Hybrid deployment model (Nexus 1000v InterCloud) and how we open it all up with Cisco ONE (Open Networking Environment)
 The family expands with the Nexus 6000
The new Nexus 6004 switch offers extremely
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Cisco Launches Nexus 1000V InterCloud – Part 3

February 7, 2013 at 4:00 am PST

Cisco Nexus 1000V InterCloudToday we wrap up our three part introduction of Cisco’s new hybrid cloud infrastructure, Nexus 1000V InterCloud. In Part 1, we provided an overview of the architecture and the components that make up Nexus 1000V InterCloud. In Part 2, we looked a bit more closely into the single pane management of the cloud network and resources across the on-premises private cloud and the cloud service provider. In Part 3, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve been getting from customers, analysts and the press in the early stages of this announcement.

Q:   What is Nexus 1000V InterCloud? What part of the hybrid cloud infrastructure does it comprise? Is it software, hardware, some combination of both? Is it a switch, a server or an application?

A:    Nexus 1000V InterCloud is a set of software components that run as virtual machines on a variety of servers. It forms the infrastructure that extendss your existing on-premises virtual network and virtual services to cloud providers in a seamless and secure manner. It provides all the infrastructure and protocols to support VM migration from the data center to the cloud provider. Effectively, Nexus 1000V InterCloud (with VNMC InterCloud management software) creates a secure, on-demand layer-2 virtual private cloud (VPC).

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Delivering High Value Cloud Services in a World of Many Clouds

Businesses and Governments are using multiple clouds in different ways. They are moving core functions in to a controlled private or managed cloud. But they are still using public clouds for new services, content and demand spikes. Some large enterprises are becoming specialized cloud providers for smaller businesses, while traditional providers are using different clouds for different tiers of service. These trends are leading to a world of many clouds with numerous service choices from a variety of cloud vendors. For example IT organizations can:

  • Offload complexity and access specialized services (e.g. Virtualized Desktop Infrastructure, Collaboration)
  • Share vertical expertise and Intellectual property across data centers (e.g. Regulatory compliance, Data clearinghouse)
  • Leverage a Provider’s Capacity for unplanned Demand (e.g. Disaster recovery, Seasonal IT surge)
  • Access network-optimized-clouds to deliver content reliably (e.g. Content distribution, Mobile streaming) Read More »

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Unified Fabric: Helping Partners Deliver Innovative Cloud and Data Center Solutions

February 5, 2013 at 7:21 am PST

As the saying goes, “Change is the only constant.” And as partners have seen, customers are constantly grappling with a love-hate relationship between applications and networking. As new applications appear, the infrastructure is required to evolve, which brings about a whole new wave of application innovation that then forces the infrastructure to evolve again and again. This endless cycle has played itself out as applications transitioned from mainframes to client/server to web and now to cloud.

Cisco is extending the capabilities of Unified Fabric to support a world of many clouds with the scalability and flexibility of the new Nexus 6000 series, the traffic insight of Nexus 7000 NAM, Nexus 1000V InterCloud and VNMC InterCloud hybrid cloud solutions and updates to the Cisco ONE portfolio including the new Cisco ONE Controller.

These upgrades will help your customers protect their investments because it can easily be extended to accommodate new applications and usage models as they emerge, allowing customers to shift from “infrastructure defining what apps can do” to “apps defining what infrastructure must do.”

Here are some highlights of the new offerings:  Read More »

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