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Move Past Survival and Thrive

Every area of your business has a stake in the way IT delivers services. Each one needs speed, agility, efficiency, and a clear definition of its relationship with all of the other areas and the business as a whole. In order to get there and create an agile and efficient organization that flows, you need to unify IT with all areas of the business. There is no way around it.

If your company is one of the four out of ten companies moving to a private cloud by the end of 2014, then you know you need a solution that does more than dispense virtual machines in minutes. You need a solution to deliver diverse services across an entire solution stack. You need a cloud partner that can align with the demands of your business today, tomorrow, and well into the future. Always keep in mind that your cloud technology choices are major decisions with business-critical impact.

Selecting a cloud management solution is a strategic decision for your organization. In a previous blog, I wrote about Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) receiving the highest score in the Forrester Private Cloud Wave Report for cloud vision and strategy. What we presented to Forrester, and even more, is now available for your organization through the latest release of Cisco IAC.

How does vision and strategy translate into IT better aligning with your business? Sit back and watch this informative, short video to find out.

Every day customers tell me what keeps them up at night is not how to reduce costs but how to survive. Just as in nature, survival for business depends on intelligence and fast and agile execution of processes. To make these capabilities part of your organization’s genetic composition, so that they are intrinsic, almost intuitive, you need a cloud management solution that sees, understands, and manages your whole environment: physical and virtual, networks, applications, and more – whatever comprises your stacks.

Plus, you need cloud efficiencies to extend beyond your data center securely and encompass business functions such as delivery of development environments within minutes, the ordering of a new laptop or virtual desktop, onboarding of a new employee, or even the ordering of office supplies. And you want to be able to do all of these things from a unified user interface.

That’s exactly what the latest release of Cisco IAC brings to the table:

• The integration of Cisco IAC and Cisco UCS Director delivers a comprehensive private cloud, which frees you to focus on creating differentiated services instead of building your cloud.
• A unified self-service portal and catalog covers your enterprise, providing a modern online shopping experience across all data center and workplace functions.
• Advanced cloud governance offers the ability to manage demand, suppliers, and service consumption tracked to specific budgetary or resource thresholds.

But wait, there’s more. There’s the network. Any NOC expert will tell you that delivering network services in the cloud is a manual, trouble-ticket-based grind. At a time when your business needs speed and agility, manual network service delivery slows down IT and your business.

Unchain your business with Cisco IAC’s out-of-box templates that automate the delivery of VPNs, firewalls, and load balancers. We’re not talking about a single configuration applied to every organization, but the ability for each tenant to define its own unique network service configuration.

Cisco understands that cloud management is more than dispensing virtual machines. The latest release of Cisco IAC allows IT to align with your business, so that you’re free to not just survive, but to thrive.

Take the next step and watch this technical video overview of Cisco IAC.

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Cisco Evolved Services Platform: OPEN for business

In the announcement of the Cisco Evolved Services Platform last week, we not only highlighted our initial service offers in mobility and video and the business benefits it enables, but also that it was open, extensible and elastic.  Openness is critical for providers by nature of the fact that their networks – often global in scope and mind-boggling in scale – require all the different technologies and often from different vendors installed to create the network experience desired actually can work together.  If not, it limits the offers they can take to market or requires operational contortions to make work, either of which would affect the provider’s ability to do business.

That’s why our engineering teams are so focused on making the Evolved Services Platform so Open.  They have incorporated Openstack and Open Daylight (SDN) protocol suite; they’ve made it fully compliant with ETSI NfV (MANO), 3GPP Gi-LAN and more.  In fact, their efforts in the more than 60 standards bodies helps us to factor into our roadmaps the latest understanding of the current standards and, just as importantly, where they are going.

But in addition to standards, the Cisco Evolved Services Platform needs to also be multi-vendor.  And on the first day of our largest tradeshow of the year, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where pleased to highlight Broadsoft, Intel and Mavenir are joining in their endorsement of our approach.  Here’s what they said:

“At BroadSoft we are the leading application provider and working toward the NFV implementation with an open eco-system. We share an open platform strategy with Cisco around virtualization, orchestration and automation that provides an environment where customers, partners, and independent developers can freely innovate and develop integrated applications that offer greater value to users.  We are excited to work with Cisco to provide a virtualized/orchestrated VoLTE solution on the Cisco Evolved Services Platform.”, said Scott Hoffpauir, Chief Technology Officer, BroadSoft.

“With the virtualization capabilities enabled with the Evolved Services Platform, Cisco is able to address industry requirements for orchestration of services across both virtual and physical infrastructure,” said Rose Schooler, Vice President and General Manager of the Intel Communications and Storage Infrastructure Group.  “By utilizing the advanced features of the Intel Xeon server platform, Cisco is able to deliver solution architectures that are enabling the performance agility on fully open compute systems that service providers need to quickly scale new services, more customized to customer needs, with a faster time to market.”

“Virtualization is transforming our business by providing the agility, flexibility and profitability for service innovations. More importantly, providing  a cloud platform that is open, extensible and elastic for mobile solution providers is a key step toward realizing this direction. We are pleased to see Cisco making this vision a reality to the industry and its partners by providing the Cisco Evolved Services Platform.”, said Bahram Jalalizadeh, EVP of Business Development, Mavenir Systems

These, along with Openwave Mobility and Metaswitch, make up the initial members of the Cisco Evolved Services Platform Ecosystem, to help avoid making multi-vendor environment hamper a SP operations but rather to help give the service provider flexibility to pursue even more opportunities as they stay Open for business.

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Three light beams that emanated from OpenDaylight Summit

February 21, 2014 at 5:30 am PST

Earlier this month, I attended the first ever summit on OpenDaylight (ODL) project in Santa Clara, CA. This near sold out event was largely successful by many standards. It brought together a large number of great minds to the table to solve some of the toughest challenges the networking industry is facing around Software-defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV). The group announced a first major step forward with the first open source software release called Hydrogen.  The bulk of the credit goes to 154 contributors from Cisco, IBM, Ericsson, Red Hat, Citrix and others who wrote over a million lines of code in past ten months to make this happen.

The two-day summit was packed with a variety of sessions that were geared towards a diverse set of audience. The sessions varied from general topics to specific topics such as relevance of Open source software, NFV, LISP, standards, discussions on North and South bound APIs, developer tutorials for building applications & tool chain, using OpenStack with ODL, analytics, test automation, and a true story of SDN in production environment.

Of all these topics, here are the three important themes that stood out to me -

    1.      The importance of an Open Source, community initiative for SDN

The concept of Open Source software has been around since decades. It is fast catching up in the non-traditional realms of computer networking. For some, the concept of open source equates to free software. While this is partially true, I strongly believe that open=free is a misnomer. I have started to realize that open source and further, the collaborative initiatives like ODL is far beyond the notion of freeness. In my view, the most important thing that such an initiative does is to gather right minds to bring out bright ideas. The collective wisdom that emanates from such a collaborative initiative helps vendors develop a cohesive set of products that speaks a common language, and perhaps share certain fundamental design constructs to aid interoperability. At the same time, I believe that this collaboration helps to compress the infinite ways vendors can built products to a bounded, agreed upon set of behaviors and interfaces. Customers are real beneficiaries of such an open initiative due to this standardization and better product interoperability. As Vijay Pandey from IBM aptly said in one of his presentations, open source initiatives like ODL “promote innovation and raise the value bar.”

Cisco firmly believes in and supports such open source initiatives. Cisco is a platinum member of ODL project, as well as a Gold member of OpenStack Foundation. You can find more information about OpenStack at Cisco , and a rich set of Cisco Services to help you exploit and adopt OpenStack.

 

    2.      What and how much to Standardize (North and South bound APIs)

In the summit, there were several interesting debates on what to standardize and how much. With regards to how much, I am with Guru Parulkar’s mantra to “standardize as little as possible.”

One of the core capabilities that SDN brings to the table is the notion around exposing interfaces from control plane to the infrastructure layer (South Bound APIs or SBI) and to the application/business layer (North bound APIs or NBI).  We talked about using common approach for design constructs above, and the APIs are central to the constructs. However, if we (are somehow able to) standardize every hook into the system, we are forcing the industry to take a “single” approach to solve the underlying problems. Additionally, I believe that such an approach will not only go against the very notion of openness, but will also hinder innovation and ability to provide unique experiences.

If we talk about SBI, we rightly need some standardized ways to abstract some of the infrastructure complexities. I learnt that ODL will include support for SDN open standards such as OpenFlow, VxLAN, PCEP etc. Similar to SBI, can we standardize the NBI’s as well?

Read More »

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Marching towards Cloud CDN

Why should you put a virtualized content delivery network (CDN) in the cloud?

This is not just a theoretical question. It has come from our customers. At our recent Cisco Live event in Milan, we demonstrated how our continued CDN technical leadership can answer this question.

First, some history, as you can’t just begin with the cloud.

At Cisco, we’ve been working hard over the years to evolve our Videoscape Distribution Suite (VDS) platform. From its roots in hardware-based appliances, to software applications powered by our data center hardware, and more recently to virtual machine implementations which can be powered by our own or third party hardware. Each technological advance to our VDS platform has netted gains for our customers in their CDN deployments; whether through more flexible deployment from greater hardware independence, faster time-to-market implementing VDS software applications, or reduced total cost of ownership thanks to server-based virtualization that optimizes footprint and power/cooling requirements.

Nonetheless, requirements continue to evolve.

Consumers expect to Read More »

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Availability of the Nexus 1000V Cloud Networking Platform for OpenStack Unveiled at Cisco live!

February 7, 2014 at 4:00 am PST

Last week at Cisco live! Milan, we announced another milestone in our OpenStack strategy with the availability this quarter of the Nexus 1000V virtual networking platform for Linux Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor and integration with the commercial OpenStack distribution from Canonical (Ubuntu Linux and OpenStack). I had a chance to sit down in Milan with John Zannos, VP of Global Alliances at Canonical, to talk about the Cisco-Canonical partnership, and what the integration of Nexus 1000V into their OpenStack architecture means for customers.

The Nexus 1000V on KVM brings to the OpenStack cloud a fully integrated network virtualization solution. The solution provides a full layer-2 feature set, feature-rich Layer-3 IOS router, security and QoS policies, VXLAN virtual overlays, vPath-enabled virtual services, and full monitoring and management capabilities.  Enterprises and service providers may now deploy a full-featured virtual network infrastructure consistently across VMware, Microsoft, and Linux-based software platforms.

Nexus 1000V for Ubuntu Linux with OpenStack support is now available with full automation and orchestration of enablement of the solution via Juju/Charms. Juju provides both a command-line interface and an intuitive web app to design, build, configure, deploy and manage your infrastructure. Charms give Juju its power. They encapsulate application configurations, define how services are deployed, how they connect to other services and are scaled. Nexus 1000V support for Red Hat KVM and OpenStack is planned for later this year.

Additional details and data sheets can be found here.

And on a related note, if you are interested in Nexus 1000V-related items, we recently recorded a technical podcast with Greg Ferro and Ethan Banks of packetpushers.net on the Microsoft Hyper-V version of our virtual switch, which you can find here.

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