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Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure for OpenStack: Enabling Reliable OpenStack Cloud for Enterprises

Companies are going through a change in the way they conduct their businesses and digital transformation is paving the way. IT services and applications are distributed and beyond the traditional boundaries of the data center. Cloud adoption is a big part of the transformation. Enterprises are looking at multiple cloud technologies from established and emerging players to handle the transformation.

More and more companies are adopting Fast IT as a standard to meet these challenges.  Dev and test teams are looking to shorten the development life cycle, and innovative cloud developers are looking for platforms that are programmatic and automatable. Companies are looking at flexible, open options to meet these needs in-house. OpenStack, is emerging as the leading open source cloud computing software platform and customers are actively considering it for their businesses.

OpenStack has come a long way in the last few years; the broad OpenStack community is delivering new features and capabilities rapidly. It has gained interest across various customer segments. However it continues to be a challenge for businesses to adopt OpenStack due to the skillset needed to design, optimize and deploy an OpenStack based cloud in their data centers. Another challenge is the support needed to maintain, troubleshoot and evolve with the industry.

Cisco Validated Designs and Implementation Guides offer proven processes and tested configurations that reduce the complexity of deploying OpenStack. Cisco works closely with ecosystem partners like Red Hat and Intel to develop validated solutions for standing up OpenStack based private clouds.

Earlier this year, we released ‘FlexPod Datacenter with Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform,’ a Cisco Validated Design (CVD) for running OpenStack on our trusted FlexPod architecture, composed of Cisco Unified Computing System, Cisco Nexus family of switches, and NetApp unified storage systems. For customers interested in running OpenStack with Ceph storage, another CVD is in the works.

Next week, we will release a new CVD jointly developed with Red Hat and Intel. The new validated solution combines the power of Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure with the most recent OpenStack distribution from Red Hat, so our customers can more easily and quickly deploy OpenStack private clouds.

Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure for OpenStack

Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure is a reliable, scalable industry-leading platform that matches the needs of an agile business. Cisco’s innovative solutions for stateless computing, programmability and automation are enabled within the context of OpenStack through easily available, open source plugins.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform is a stable and tested distribution of OpenStack. OSP director is an integrated and centralized tool for deployment and management of OpenStack and Ceph.

Intel has made key contributions towards making OpenStack enterprise-ready such as support for live migration capability and scalability.

All the capabilities and features of Cisco UCS and contributions by Intel are delivered and deployed through Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 7 (OSP 7), for a seamless and stable experience. With this solution customers can manage compute, network, storage, hypervisors and virtual machines from the OpenStack environment. Our fundamental focus is to deliver an enterprise ready OpenStack platform solution with validated configuration, to increase speed of deployment and reduce risk.

For easy adoption of OpenStack, Cisco will be the single point-of-contact for installation and on-going support for the entire solution including the infrastructure and OpenStack . Cisco will work with Red Hat to provide coordinated support for faster resolution.

Simplifying OpenStack deployment is critical for the success of our customers and to ensure IT adoption of the technology; we are committed to delivering that to our customers with our eco-system partners.

Please join us at the OpenStack Summit in Tokyo between Oct 27-29th to learn about the solutions we are building to address customer needs, our participation and contributions to OpenStack, or for any discussions on OpenStack.

Our Cisco Validated Design for deploying Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform on Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure will be available for download in the Cisco Design Zone.

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Delivering Network Function Virtualization (NFV) on OpenStack Hangout

We had our first OpenStack Hangout, “OpenStack as a NFV Platform” on Tuesday Oct 21st. If you are excited about the potential of NFV, this hangout is for you. Our expert panel discussed NFV fundamentals, NFV momentum, the Neutron NFV subteam, and the new Linux Foundation OPNFV project. What I liked the most about this hangout is that we had influencers, from different companies with different backgrounds, joining us and sharing their use cases and views on future trends.

Network virtualization is poised to become a key enabler for technology and business. This innovation is driven by the OpenStack Community that has come together to solve customers’ business problems. For example, NFV promises to not only deliver high performance but also deterministic performance. This theme was highlighted throughout the discussion.

I want to take a moment and thank our moderator and panelists for doing an amazing job!

  • Mark Voelker, Technical Leader, Cisco
  • Russell Bryant, Senior Principal Software Engineer, Red Hat
  • Toby Ford, AVP of Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Architecture & Strategy, AT&T
  • Mark McLoughlin, Consulting Software Engineer, Red Hat
  • Mark McClain, Yahoo!
  • Ian Wells, Technical Leader, Cisco
  • Chris Wright, Technical Director of SDN and NFV, Red Hat

Thank you!

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Application Enablement and Innovation Leveraging Linux Containers

Linux containers and Docker are poised to radically change the way applications are built, shipped, deployed, and instantiated. They accelerate application delivery by making it easy to package the dependencies along with the application. That means that a single containerized application can operate in different development, test and production environments and platforms (physical and virtual). While the concept of containerization is not new, the benefit of using containers to pull together all the application components (including dependencies and services) into a package for application portability is. As continuous integration and delivery require a very agile Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) process to move from development to production, containers provides the perfect abstraction to deploy and test across the various platforms. Application containers make it very easy for applications to be deployed on bare metal servers, virtual machines, and public clouds. The reason why containers are relevant Read More »

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Power of Open Choice in Hypervisor Virtual Switching

Customers gain great value from server virtualization in the form of virtual machines (VM) and more recently Linux Containers /Dockers in data centers, clouds and branches.  By some estimates, more than 60 % of the workloads are virtualized although less than 16% of the physical servers (IDC) are virtualized (running a hypervisor).  From a networking perspective, the hypervisor virtual switch on these virtualized servers plays a critical component in all current and future data center, cloud, and branch designs and solutions

As we count down to the annual VMworld conference and reflect on the introduction of the Cisco Nexus 1000V in vSphere 4.0 six years ago, we can feel proud of what we have achieved. We have to congratulate VMware for their partnership and success in opening vSphere networking to third party vendors. It was beneficial for our joint customers, and for both companies. VMware and Cisco could be considered visionaries in this sense. Recognizing this success, the industry has followed.

Similarly we praise Microsoft as well, for having also provided an open environment for third-party virtual switches within Hyper-V, which has continued gaining market share recently.  Cisco and Microsoft (along with other industry players) are leading the industry with the latest collaboration on submitting the OpFlex control protocol to the IETF. Microsoft’s intention to enable OpFlex support in their native Hyper-V virtual switch enables standards-based interaction with the virtual switches.  Another win for customers and the industry.

In KVM and Xen environments, many organizations have looked at Open vSwitch (OVS) as an open source alternative. There is an interest in having richer networking than the standard Linux Bridge provides, or using OVS as a component for implementing SDN-based solutions like network virtualization. We think that there is an appetite for OVS on other hypervisors as well.  Cisco is also committed to contributing and improving these open source efforts.  We are active contributors in the Open Virtual Switch project and diligently working to open source our OpFlex control protocol implementation for OVS in the OpenDaylight consortium.

To recap on the thoughts from above, Table 1 provides a quick glance at the options for virtual networking from multiple vendors as of today:

Table 1:  Hypervisors and Choices in Virtual Switches


Native vSwitch

3-party or OpenSource  vSwitch


•Standard vSwitch
•Distributed Virtual Switch
•Cisco Application Virtual Switch
•IBM DVS 5000V
•HP Virtual Switch 5900V


Native Hyper-v Switching


Linux Bridge(some distributions include OVS natively)


OVS – open source project with multiple contributions from different vendors and individuals


As an IT Professional, whether you are running workloads on Red Hat KVM, Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware vSphere, it is difficult to imagine not having a choice of virtual networking. For many customers, this choice still means using the hypervisor’s native vSwitch.  For others, it is about having an open source alternative, like OVS. And in many other cases, having the option of selecting an Enterprise-grade virtual switch has been key to increasing deployments of virtualization, since it enables consistent policies and network operations between virtual machines and bare metal workloads.

As can be seen in the table above, Cisco Nexus 1000V continues to be the industry’s only multi-hypervisor virtual switching solution that delivers enterprise class functionality and features across vSphere, Hyper-V and KVM. Currently, over 10,000 customers have selected this option with Cisco Nexus 1000V in either vSphere, Hyper-V, or KVM (or a combination of them).

Cisco is fully committed to the Nexus 1000V for vSphere, Hyper-V and KVM and also the Application Virtual Switch (AVS) for Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), in addition to our open source contributions to OVS.  Cisco has a large R&D investment in virtual switching, with a lot of talented engineers dedicated to this area, inclusive of those working on open-source contributions.

Nexus 1000V 3.0 release for vSphere is slated for August 2014 (general availability). This release addresses scale requirements of our increasing customer base, as well as an easy installation tool in the form of Cisco Virtual Switch Update Manager.   The Cisco AVS for vSphere will bring the ACI policy framework to virtual servers.  With ACI, customers will for the first time benefit from a true end-to-end virtual + physical infrastructure being managed holistically to provide visibility and optimal performance for heterogeneous hypervisors and workloads (virtual or physical).  These innovations and choices are enabled by the availability of open choices in virtual switching within hypervisors.

As we look forward to VMworld next month, we are excited to continue the collaborative work with platform vendors VMware, Microsoft, Red Hat, Canonical, and the open source community to maintain and continue development of openness and choice for our customers.  We are fully committed to this vision at Cisco.

Acknowledgement:  Juan Lage (@juanlage) contributed to this blog.

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Delivering Policy in the Age of Open Source

This is an exciting time in the history of datacenter infrastructure.  We are witnessing the collision of two major trends: the maturation of open source software and the redefinition of infrastructure policy.
The trend towards open source is self-evident.  Platforms such as OpenStack and OpenDaylight are gaining huge developer mindshare as well as support and investment from major vendors.  Even some newer technologies like Docker, which employs linux kernel containers, and Ceph, a software-based storage solution, offer promising paths in open source.  Given the fundamental requirements of interoperability in architecturally diverse infrastructure environments, its no surprise that open source is gaining momentum.

The second trend around policy is a bit earlier in its evolution but equally disruptive.  Today, there is a huge disconnect between how application developers think about their requirements and the languages and tools through which they are communicated to the infrastructure itself.  For example,  just to handle networking, a simple three tier app must be deconstructed into an array of VLANs, ACLs, and routes spread across a number of devices.  Storage and compute present similar challenges as well.   To simplify this interaction and create more scalable systems, we need to actually rethink how resources are requested and distributed between different components.  This really boils down to shifting the abstraction model away from configuring individual devices to focus on separately capturing user intent, operational, infrastructure, and compliance requirements.

At Cisco, we’ve really embraced both of these trends.  We are active contributors to over 100 open source projects and were founding members of OpenStack Neutron and OpenDaylight.  We’ve also made open source a successful business practice by incorporating and integrating popular projects with our products.  In parallel, Cisco has accumulated a lot of experience in describing policy through the work we’ve done with Cisco Unified Computing (UCS) and most recently with Cisco Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI).

Building on this foundation, we see a unique opportunity to collaborate with the open source community to deliver a vision for policy-driven infrastructure.  This will enhance the usability, scale, and interoperability of open source software and benefit the entire infrastructure ecosystem.

This vision includes two initiatives in the open source community:


  1. Group-Based Policy: An information model designed to express applications’ resource requirements from the network through a hardware-independent, declarative language and leave a simple control and dataplane in place.  This approach replaces traditional networking constructs like VLANs with new primitives such as “groups”, which model tiers or components of an application, and “contracts” describing relationships between them.  Group-Based Policy will be available in the context of OpenStack Neutron as well as OpenDaylight through a plug in model that can support any software or hardware infrastructure.
  2. OpFlex: A distributed framework of intelligent agents within each networking device designed to resolve policies.  These agents would translate an abstract, hardware-independent policy taken from a logically central repository into device-specific features and capabilities.


Let’s look a bit more closely at each of these initiatives.

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