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Halloween can be scary. Automating your network doesn’t need to be.

Some random, yet strangely connected, thoughts the night before Halloween…

  1. Zombies can be scary:


  1. Death Metal* can be scary:

Click here to listen.

  1. Learning new skills and using new tools to automate your network can appear to be scary if you don’t have a coding background. But that doesn’t need to be the case…

In a previous blog post, I discussed Cisco’s SDN Strategy for the Data Center. I mentioned that it is built on 3 key pillars: Application Centric Infrastructure, Programmable Fabric, and Programmable Network. Regarding the 3rd pillar, I wrote that network programmability has largely been the domain of big Web SP’s, and/or those whose propellers seen to spin faster than others. However, the reality is that tools are available that are useful for networks of pretty much any size, and the tools are within reach of pretty much everybody.

Rather than rattle off a list cool features that are part of Programmable Network (some of which are summarized here), I thought it more useful to consider common things network people actually do on a daily basis, then show how we can apply programmability tools to do those things with, for lack of a better phrase, “the 3 S’s”:

  • Speed – enabling you to do things much faster;
  • Scale – enabling you to do things to a much larger group of devices; and
  • Stability – enabling you to make far fewer errors (thereby also increasing Security…oops, now that’s 4 S’s…)

In upcoming posts, we will consider use cases such as switch provisioning. For example, you need to put a bunch of VLANs on a bunch of switches. Unless you have a battalion of minions to carry out your wishes, this can be a tedious, time consuming task. There is a better way, and we’ll show you how.

What’s that? You say you’re a network geek, but you moonlight as a server admin? You’ve been using Linux tools to monitor and troubleshoot servers and want to use the same tools for the network? Okay, we can cover that too because tools like ifconfig and tcpdump are all part of the party.

If you can’t wait for the future posts and/or you want to dive deep, this recorded webinar should tide you over.

Anyhow, I need to go carve a pumpkin now…Happy Halloween!

*For music aficionados…Yeah, I know – the link was Heavy Metal not Death Metal, but I used one of my own songs…and this is about as close to Death Metal as I get. That whole guttural screaming thing never worked for me…

Photo compliments of



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The State of Cisco and Energy2020

Chris KelleyBy Christopher Kelley, Lead Architect, Solution Services, Data & Analytics Group

Next week is the penultimate tech-fest of the year, in cable and broadband circles — the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers’ annual Cable-Tec Expo, happening in New Orleans. One topic we expect to be big involves the Energy2020 initiative, which aims to substantially reduce power consumption in all aspects of traditional and new cable infrastructure — essentially, from the side of the house, to the cloud / data centers.

Couple at a cafe- mobility

We’ll be there next week, talking sustainability and lots of other things, but we wanted to take a moment today to tell you about the work we’ve been doing on our cBR-8 converged broadband router. In fact, we just hosted a webinar on the topic this morning, with the SCTE! This blog can serve as a forum for the highlights, as that demo won’t be live yet. Read More »

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Simplifying Cable Plant Operations with SDN and DOCSIS 3.1

Igor-DayenGuest Blog by Igor Dayen, SP Product and Solutions Marketing

Carriers are continually challenged to deliver on the customer experience. One of the benefits of Cisco’s cBR-8 Evolved CCAP is the built-in telemetry, programmability, and DOCSIS 3.1 support of the platform. This makes it ideal for gigabit-speed access applications that demand both an automated and optimized cable access network.

With Software Defined Networking the cable operator can read information from the cable plant, make necessary decisions and then push an update back into the network. They can then decide on how conservative or how aggressive they want to be on adjusting the plant performance. Other tools such as a health check monitor that will validate performance, record a variety of statistics, and alert users when it sees something that is not a norm.
In addition, there are applications that enable management functions. Functions that today require human intervention can take place automatically – simplifying network operations and maximizing the customer experience.

Today, cable operators have an opportunity to Read More »

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Cisco cBR-8: Re-imagining CCAP with SDN

Guest Blog by Igor Dayen, SP Product and Solutions Marketing


In an age of agile service creation with a virtualized IT infrastructure, the delivery of services by cable operators is undergoing a transformation. Two key technologies that are fueling this change are Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV). In this blog, we will examine how SDN is transforming service delivery for cable operators.

SDN offers much promise to cable operators. It changes how networks are designed, operationalized, and monetized, making them far more agile and responsive to customers. In traditional switch and router system architectures, the control plane is implemented in software running on a general-purpose CPU and the data plane is implemented with specialized hardware such as an ASIC. What SDN does is remove the Read More »

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Take One small step with the ACI Simulator, Make a giant leap in ACI Fabric deployments

Cisco ACI is gaining momentum and mindshare in the industry as testified by the 160 plus licensees for the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), and 900 plus customers for the Nexus 9k platform.  All of this in less than three months since going live in August 2014.  Riding on that wave of success, we are pleased to announce the Cisco ACI Simulator, a physical appliance that provides a simulated Cisco ACI environment. The appliance is a full-featured Cisco APIC controller software along with a simulated fabric infrastructure of leaf switches and spine switches in one physical server.

If you wondered how it is going to help you, think of it as a self-contained environment with Cisco APIC instances with real production software. You can use it to quickly understand ACI features, exercise APIs, and initiate integration with third-party orchestration systems and applications. The ACI simulator will also allow you to use the native command line CLI and GUI via APIs that are available for third-parties.  If you are a developer or Cisco partner, this is an ideal way to develop and test your solution.  If you are a customer, you can use this in your test lab to create profiles for your enterprise apps with your actual application delivery controllers and security devices.  This belongs in any well-architected DevOps environment.

Topology of the simulator

The Cisco ACI Simulator enables you to simulate the Cisco ACI fabric, including the Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches supported in a leaf-and-spine topology, to take full advantage of an automated, policy-based, systems management approach. Specifically, the ACI simulator environment comprises 2 ACI spines, 2 ACI leafs, and 3 APIC controllers.


The Cisco ACI Simulator includes simulated switches, so you cannot validate the data path. However, some of the simulated switch ports are mapped to the front-panel server ports which allows you to connect external management entities such as VMware ESX servers, VMware vCenter, VMware vShield, and bare-metal servers; Layer 4 through 7 services; authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) systems; and other physical and virtual service appliances. In addition, the Cisco ACI Simulator allows simulation of faults and alerts to facilitate testing and demonstrate features.


The ACI simulator provides a variety of features and benefits, key ones summarized in the table below.

Fabric Management Topology view, Fabric discovery
Creation of network constructs Build a tenant,  private layer 3 network, bridged   domain
Specify Cisco ACI policy constructs Create Filters, Contracts
Application deployment create Application Network Profiles, End-point groups
Virtualization Integration VMware ESXi, vCenter, vshield
L4-L7 services integration Cisco ASA/ASAv, Citrix NetScaler and F5 BIG-IP
Monitoring and troubleshooting View faults, events, managed objects etc through GUI
Programmability with Northbound API clients Python, REST APIS with JSON & XML bindings,   PowerShell etc


Additionally,  please refer to the Cisco ACI compatibility matrix for a full list of supported capabilities and the Datasheet for detailed specifications. In closing, I want to bring to your attention to the general availability of APIC release 1.0(2i) and Cisco NX-OS release 11.0(2i) for Cisco Nexus 9000 Series ACI-Mode Switches. This release delivers new hardware and software capabilities that will further the customer momentum we are seeing with ACI.

For more information, visit

ACI simulator

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