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ACI—Some lesser known features

I am a consultant at a Cisco partner and I get to see a lot of different networks. Most of the networks are Cisco, but there are a few that are not. From time to time, I get network assessment projects. I love these types of projects as they are an exploration of  uncharted networks to see what can be discovered. Personally I like to have my network consistent, orderly, and precise. The common components of the configurations on all device should be identical. These network assessments usually do not conform to these standards. Syslog configured on some devices pointing to a device that no longer Read More »

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The Napkin Dialogues: Nexus Programmability, Part II

July 9, 2014 at 8:48 am PST

When last we left our hero, he (that is, me, or I) was getting a crash course in Nexus programmability and trying to understand what all of this stuff meant. I had plied Jim* with beer in order to get him to explain to me – using the available napkins in the bar – what the technology was, what it meant, and why I should care. Read More »

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The Napkin Dialogues: Nexus Programmability, Part I

June 30, 2014 at 12:08 pm PST

I know that I take a different approach to learning new things than most people. At least, I know my approach is different than the way people present them. The good news is that when I get something, I really get it. However, when looking at the juggernaut that is “Software-Defined X,” or even “programmability,” I know that I’m still a long, long way away from feeling like I have a handle on it.

When I wrote the previous blog post on some of the key “Open” terms were in programmability, I was overjoyed to find out that there were a few people who also had difficulty getting a grip on this too.

In other words, I’m not alone!

There is still a bewildering amount of information that I still need to learn, however, and it seems to me that if I resonated with a few people about these high-level topics, there are probably a few more who are curious about what lies beneath as well. Fortunately I work for a company (and with a lot of people) who have been willing to help me. Read More »

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Measurable Efficiencies with FlexPod and Cisco UCS Director

Data center strategy is a critical part of business strategy. In fact, the ways and means of IT deployment make all the difference between an efficient, successful organization and an ineffective one. Therefore, to align and adapt quickly to the needs of business, IT is changing the delivery mechanisms of infrastructure resources. Part of the change is a shift towards integrated solutions.

In fact, integrated solutions such as FlexPod, account for more than 50% of today’s data center spend. They increase hardware utilization while delivering measurable efficiencies. FlexPod is a single infrastructure solution that contains Cisco UCS, Nexus fabric and NetApp cluster Data ONTAP storage. It delivers flexibility and lets you command and control the growth of your data center resources. FlexPod benefits are clear–but to gain the full potential of all of the inherent benefits IT organizations are doing more.

Enter infrastructure automation. Data centers everywhere are in the midst of a sea change as the benefits and efficiencies of automation, across hardware and human resources, are becoming increasingly apparent.

Cisco UCS Director automates your end-to-end IT processes across your FlexPod infrastructure within minutes. It abstracts the complexity of individual devices, hypervisors and virtual machines into a single management console allowing you to manage all of your FlexPods, even geographically dispersed, as a single system.

Watch this video and see how Cisco UCS Director and FlexPod can increase the efficiency of your data center.
Read More »

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OpenStack Gains Momentum with Users at Recent Summit

Cisco highlighted its support for OpenStack at the recent OpenStack Summit in Atlanta, which hosted 4500+ attendees and included many more users, in addition to the developers and operators that have dominated past conferences.  A common theme among keynote presentations was the speed and flexibility of IT required to support the clouds that will soon dominate commerce and communication worldwide.  The effort underway to improve stability was also a recurring discussion topic.

OpenStack Summit, May 12-15 in Atlanta

OpenStack Summit, May 12-15 in Atlanta

From its beginning as an open source project at NASA, the OpenStack movement has grown as an open alternative to propriety cloud services and applications.  The Summit serves as a forum for those interested in hashing out the direction and adoption of the model and standards, as well as a learning opportunity for those ready to build and deploy on them.

Keynote speakers from Wells Fargo and Disney helped transition the Summit from an academic exercise to a forum for learning how innovative companies are taking control of their cloud environments.

Glenn Ferguson, Head of Private Cloud Enablement for Wells Fargo, described the compliance, auditing and governance Wells requires in its private cloud, that aren’t available in public cloud offerings.  Wells has designated OpenStack their “cloud infrastructure model” to facilitate rapid deployment of infrastructure to meet application developers’ needs and requires all IT vendors to work within the OpenStack specifications. “This is something we have to do to remain agile and competitive in this environment,” Ferguson said.  “Our infrastructure needs to keep pace with the software.”

Chris Launey, Disney’s Director of Cloud Architectures and Services, was blunt in how he described the value of speed.  “If you’re a business that deals in any kind of information, you need speed (to thrive.)  “If you give (developers) their own ‘fast’, they’ll make their own ‘cheap’ by getting their product to market quickly and responding to customer demands.  And (they’ll) make their own ‘good’ by shrinking development cycles and introducing improvements more often, until they reach a virtual continuous cycle of improvements.”

The OpenStack Foundation divides the work into individual projects focused on the various cloud components: servers, object-based storage, networking infrastructure, security, etc.  Proponents are excited about the innovation that can be unleashed when developers are freed from having to worry about the complexities associated with underlying infrastructure and can focus on the innovation of cloud services and applications.

Cisco was highly visible at the Summit, drawing standing-room-only crowds to sessions in the Networking Track,  as network stability and scalability are top-of-mind for users deploying critical applications and services to an open source cloud.

Lew Tucker, Cisco Vice President and CTO for Cloud Computing and Vice-Chair of the OpenStack Foundation, painted a picture of what is possible in his presentation “Open Stack and the Transformation of the Data Center.”  He described how the data center is becoming a large, highly automated “fabric” consisting of interconnected physical systems and virtualized services.  In this environment, OpenStack acts as a platform for building a highly efficient cloud, providing management of diverse infrastructure “below” and orchestration of a vast set of application services “above”.

Lew Tucker, Cisco VP and CTO of Cloud Computing

Lew Tucker, Cisco VP and CTO of Cloud Computing

Cisco’s key contribution to OpenStack has been participation in the development of Neutron, the OpenStack Networking Service.  There is clearly a need to have the same level of visibility and management flexibility that Cisco has been offering its customers in an open source cloud model.  In addition to driving connectivity generally, Cisco has received approval on blueprints for plugins to integrate VPN- and Firewall-as-a-Service as part of OpenStack networking.  (Referred to as Network Function Virtualization (NFV) plugins.)  Cisco is also working on the integration of OpenStack Neutron with OpenDaylight, a separate project started to focus specifically on network programmability.  Cisco’s extensive work in the open source community will bring even greater value to its existing customers by extending the ecosystem of solutions integrated with Cisco products.

In the Expo Hall, Cisco highlighted the integration of its networking, compute and management products with OpenStack APIs, demonstrating:

If you missed the Summit, check out the Session Videos and Slides to deep-dive presentations by Cisco contributors, presented at the Atlanta Summit 2014:

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