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Software Defined Networking, Cisco Style

As new technologies emerge and replace traditional ones, IT teams are discovering that building an infrastructure around new functionality is advantageous in a slew of ways.

One such disruptive technology gaining ground is software defined networking, or SDN.

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The premise of SDN is to allow the user to determine how the network behaves by decoupling the control plane from the data plane. Control planes are essentially the “data directors,” instructing the data plane on where to transfer packets of data. The data plane then establishes the best path and carries the data to its destination. By separating these two functions, the user can program the open-source network to act in accordance with business requirements—using a central management interface in a vendor-neutral manner.

Not only has Cisco joined the SDN approach, they’ve gone beyond the basics of SDN to include an application-driven infrastructure. It’s called, appropriately, Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure, or Cisco ACI.

Cisco ACI combines hardware, policy-based control systems, and software to deliver management automation, programmatic policy, and dynamic workloads. It’s built around the application, not the network.

What’s the advantage? Doing so enables greater support for scalability, a more dynamic network, and centrally-defined portable policies—all of which lend to faster application provisioning and a more efficient environment.

While many SDN solutions are focused solely on software and virtualization, the reality is that hardware still exists and is an integral part of the network. Cisco ACI leverages existing hardware—because no matter how de-emphasized it may become, the physical infrastructure remains important.

As Cisco senior vice president of marketing Soni Jiandani tells Unleashing IT, “ACI is SDN plus a whole lot more. Other SDN models stop at the network. ACI extends the promise of SDN—namely agility and automation—to the applications themselves. Through a policy-driven model, the network can cater to the needs of each application, with security, network segmentation, and automation at scale. And it can do so across physical and virtual environments, with a single pane of management.”

And Shashi Kiran, senior director of market management at Cisco, shares his views on Cisco ACI in this blog.

As businesses are becoming more dependent on applications, they must stay competitive and relevant by considering updating their infrastructure to speak directly to the needs of the application. Learn more in this edition of Unleashing IT, a special release focused on Cisco ACI -- produced by Cisco and Intel® - and see how early adopters are realizing the benefits it brings to the table.

Subscribe for access to content from customer successes to thought leadership to Cisco ACI-related resources.

 

 

 

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Operators Accelerating Pace with NFV and SDN

Save Money Here and Now

When was the last time you won the lottery?  If you are like me, it’s a pretty rare occasion indeed.  The same probability can be applied to increasing the budget allocation for any business and especially for service providers.  What can service providers do to save money now, enabling them to invest in new services and boost revenues?   Network functions virtualization (NFV) comes to the rescue, with help of course, from software defined networking (SDN), and open source innovations.

SDN and NFV represent a significant change in networking as we currently know it. Together and separately, both target cost savings, operational complexity, and network optimization – and both hold much promise for the operator. As with all things offering great potential rewards, one must balance these benefits and address the associated risks accordingly when deploying them.

For service providers, the data center is leading target for SDN and NFV deployments. Given all the activity focused on cloud computing, content delivery, and anything-as-a-service (XaaS) offerings, the service provider data centers must advance across many fronts (security, automation, mobility, reliability analytics, and provisioning) to be successful.

Interestingly, all operators Read More »

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Enabling Open, Agile, Application Centric Networks With Cisco Evolved Services Platform

Service provider customers expect more.   The pace of change around us is not just constant but continuing to accelerate.   To stay competitive with the nimble new players in the market, service providers need to change how they engage all of their end customers.   Not exactly an easy challenge to overcome, but rapid and successful business transformation will put operators right in the middle of a world of new opportunities to capture customer mindshare.  Exciting times are ahead!

So, what will it take for service providers to save money on their current service offerings, enabling them to invest and expand their businesses?   Positive outcomes are made possible by an open, agile, and application centric approach, combining emerging Software-Defined Network (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), and Open API technologies …  not just to the network… but to all of their business processes.

Faster creation of personalized services that are easy to consume is enabled by the Cisco Evolved Services Platform (ESP), automating and provisioning new services in real-time at web speed.   End customers can Read More »

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Service Agility from Customer, Business, and Orchestration Perspectives

A Great Leap Forward

Evolutionary biologists talk about features that suddenly seem to burst forth and enable stunning new capabilities for life forms in the natural world. Eyes. Legs. Flight. And right now service providers have at their fingertips many new operational features that can help them become more agile purveyors of better, faster, and cheaper services. It’s no exaggeration to look at Software-defined Networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), and other new, evolving technology approaches as part of a groundbreaking, evolutionary leap forward.

Service providers are not alone in embracing solutions that provide greater service agility. A 2013 Gartner study that asked enterprises to list their primary driver for cloud services found that 66% of enterprises ranked agility and service velocity above cost savings and other factors.

Understanding How and When to be Agile Read More »

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Networking: Moving From Open to Closed (Part 2 of 2)

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”  -- William Faulkner

In the first half of this blog, I explained how MSDCs are like mainframes and super computers. In this half I develop on my thesis that the networks connecting compute and storage resources within the MSDC are becoming proprietary just like they are in mainframes to create a competitive advantage.

Continuing from where I left off, the internal architecture of a mainframe is parallel to MSDC architectures as shown in the figure to the right.

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Mainframe architectures were (and still are) proprietary, in that how the compute and storage resources are connected was an internal engineering design. Each vendor had their own internal design which served as a competitive differentiation. We are seeing the same thing happening in MSDCs. Read More »

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