I am Soni Jiandani, SVP of Marketing for Cisco’s Insieme Business Unit. Together with a team of veteran leaders and engineers, we continue to disrupt markets to drive industry transformation. Our latest disruption is focused on leapfrogging Software Defined Networks (SDN) with a holistic approach to the future of networking: Application Centric Infrastructure, or ACI for short.
My blog is timed with announcing the shipment of ACI – namely the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) with ACI mode for the Nexus 9000. But this is not a corporate sales blog. My intent is to foster an open discussion about the future of the networking industry.
ACI: A key enabler to driving fast IT
We have spent the past few years to gather the best and the brightest engineering minds focused on one simple goal: to design an infrastructure for our customers that meets the needs of applications today and in the future. These applications require dynamic, agile, fast, secure, scalable, reliable infrastructure that is automated as a native, baseline requirement.
Cisco has a broad base of data center customers with a diverse set of requirements and we meet their needs with Nexus -- the most comprehensive switching portfolio in the industry. This week, we are making announcements for both the Nexus 9000 series and the Nexus 3000 series that provide design and deployment flexibility for our commercial, enterprise, service provider, as well as cloud customers. Key points of the announcement include:
ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) is shipping this month;
Additional linecard and chassis options provide customer choice and flexibility;
100G linecards for the Nexus 9500 will be available in Q4CY14 and will offer the highest density in the industry; and
New starter kits and bundles help customers ease transitions.
The Nexus 9000 Series
ACI is shipping this month
The Nexus 9000 series can operate in standard NX-OS mode or in ACI mode. In either case the Nexus 9000 portfolio delivers the value of the “5 P’s” of Power efficiency, Price, Port density, Performance, and Programmability. NX-OS mode provides customers with the value of the NX-OS operating system used by tens of thousands of customers in data centers around the world. ACI mode adds to NX-OS capabilities by providing an application driven policy model, integration of hardware and software, and centralized visibility, among other things. ACI requires a controller and switch software. Both are shipping this month. It is important to note that the pricing for this solution is simple and predictable. There is a perpetual license for each leaf switch. Other pricing approaches in the industry are monthly and are based on varying elements like number of VM’s. Comparing the two approaches is somewhat like comparing a cell phone bill that is either flat rate or usage based. Personally, I like the simplicity and predictability of flat rate. See The Future of Networking, as well as SDN and Beyond for additional details on new ACI announcements and how they can take you beyond SDN.
Additional linecard and chassis options underscore flexibility
We’ll consider how flexibility is delivered for both modular and fixed platforms. For modular switching, the Nexus 9500 modular chassis family offers different line card options that can be mixed in the same chassis and allow customers to “dial up” or “dial down” their design based upon the price, performance, feature set, and scale they want to achieve. There are basically 3 different ‘flavors’, all of which are now shipping:
The Nexus 9500 X9400 set of 1/10G and 40G line cards are based on merchant silicon and provide industry-leading price and performance compared to other merchant silicon switches. These provide a very cost effective solution ideal for traditional modular data center designs.
The Nexus 9500 X9500 set of 1/10G and 40G line cards are sometimes referred to as “merchant plus” because they have custom Cisco ASICs, in addition to merchant silicon, and are ideal for customers that need performance together with additional buffering and VXLAN routing capabilities. The X9500 line cards can be used in future ACI designs as well.
The Nexus 9500 X9600 set of 40G line cards provide performance without compromise even for small packet sizes.
The Nexus 9300 series offers ACI capabilities (ala the X9500 linecards in item 2 above) in a fixed form factor. For customers interested in a merchant only fixed form factor, we offer the Nexus 3000 family. This week, we announced the new Nexus 3164, which provides 64 ports of 40G and is a great solution for 40G access or space constrained aggregation.
We are also announcing 100G linecards that we believe will deliver industry leading port density of up to 128 ports of 100G in a single chassis. 100G for both the X9400 and X9600 series will be available for the Nexus 9500 in Q4CY14. Cisco will offer an 8 port 100G X9400 line card and a 12 port 100G X9600 line card.
New starter kits and bundles ease transitions
There are numerous packages available to ease transitions -- from 1G to 10G, 10G to 40G, or from traditional networks to ACI. There are 2 bundles I want to quickly call out. The first provides a smooth transition for customers with older End of Row Catalyst 6500’s in their data centers. It occupies the same rack space and uses the same cabling as they currently have, but provides 10X the performance. The second is basically an ACI starter kit, providing the APIC, spine switches and leaf switches, even optical cables – everything required to set up and get started with an ACI pod.
In summary, Cisco is continuing its rapid pace of innovation and execution around ACI and data center switching overall. Ultimately, this means customers gain choice, flexibility and true innovation to support their business needs.
Internet of Things, Cloud Computing, SDN, NFV, Next generation Data Centers and Wireless Broadband are all technology themes that were discussed at the annual Interop 2014 show in Tokyo, Japan this week.
The week-long event which was co-located with IMC Tokyo 2014, DSJ 2014, Apps Japan and Location Business Japan 2014 saw over 140,000 attendees. With participation from 100+ vendors, Cisco led the event as one of three Global Partner Sponsors and provided one of the keynotes presented by David Ward, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. Read More »
At F5 Agility 2014 Copenhagen this month, Applications take the central stage. The key focus area is Application Delivery Controllers (ADC’s as Gartner calls them) and how they are increasingly becoming more important to modern IT than they used to be, allowing scale, availability, orchestration and provisioning.
Another key focus area is around the deployment of applications and how joint technology solutions present a tremendously powerful option for F5’s customers. F5’s partners -- and Cisco is a key partner – are a large part of Agility. Cisco is at the event to demonstrate how its ACI technology integrates with F5 BIG-IP to improve manageability, strengthen security, and ensure faster and more successful deployments.
We have quite a few exciting things that we are showcasing at F5 Agility from a Cisco ACI perspective, and in this blog I want to take you on a quick tour of the highlights. As a testimony to our growing momentum with the Cisco ACI-F5 joint solution effort, we have demos, business and technical breakout sessions. The event features F5 CEO John McAdam’s keynote on Tuesday June 17, where he will … discuss how applications are impacting the architecture of the data center and driving IT strategy and alignment to key business drivers.
Cisco Marketing Manager Ravi Balakrishnan is presenting a business breakout session-4 titled “Unleash the power of Cisco ACI and F5 Synthesis for Accelerated Application deployments,” on Wednesday June 18. This session gives a detailed overview on the benefits of our joint solution and the customer pain points it addresses, so do not miss this. I’d also encourage you to attend Paolo Pio and Nicolas Menant’s technical breakout session-3 on Wednesday June 18, where they will walk you through details of ACI/VMDC joint solution.
We also have an exciting demo at the Cisco ACI kiosk, where we are showing how the Cisco ACI and F5 BIG-IP joint solution works with step-by-step illustrations of configuration, deployment and execution. The demos run Tuesdays and Wednesday at the Exhibit Hall for the entire duration of the day. Stop by our demo kiosk to get a deep-dive architecture type white-boarding or brainstorming type engagement with Cisco subject matter experts on ACI-F5 integrated solution. There are several other solution areas where Cisco and F5 are working together including F5 LTM-Cisco Nexus 7000 integration, F5 LTM-SourceFire NGIPS integration etc, so come by our demo booth to learn more.
As spring turns to summer, just 6 months from when Cisco announced its vision of Application Centric Infrastructure, the momentum has started to pick up on all fronts – solution availability, technology integration with partners, channel awareness and most importantly strong customer traction. It is worthwhile to look at the trajectory thus far –
Nexus 9000 shipping with strong customer traction, awards and records
70+ active ACI trials with customers and channel partners
ACI ecosystem – 33 ecosystem partners leveraging the open approach and the policy model
1000+ customers in pipeline
175+ customers across major SPs, Enterprise and Commercial with several production deployments
With the APIC ready to ship this summer and become generally available, it is very exciting to see the positive feedback coming in especially from customers and partners that are deploying the Nexus 9000 as also those participating in the ACI trials with the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC).
Hear directly from our major partners in this short video montage
Today we continued the momentum with new “ACI-ready” Nexus 9300 Top of Rack switches (9336PQ and 9396TX) both of which can ease into traditional 3-Tier deployments or ACI deployments moving forward. A new line card was also made available for the Nexus 9500 to function as an ACI ready spine. In addition, there were several other innovations across the Nexus portfolio, including a new Nexus 6004X switch, VXLAN support made available across the entire portfolio as well as enhanced programmability and SDN/automation capabilities on the Nexus 7000 series switches.