Revolutions are usually led by challengers, not incumbents. But Cisco’s Nov. 6th mega-launch of Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) is sounding revolutionary as described by some experienced industry watchers. Any revolution must transform the experience of its participants – in this case , the Application development teams, DevOps and CloudOps that are provisioning new applications in many mid-to-large Enterprise Data Centers. As John Chambers said at Interop “The ability to create an infrastructure that is agile, simplified, automatically programmable and able to scale on demand is critical to enabling the application model”. In this blog, we’ll zoom in on “Agility” as an experience.
The growing agility gap
In the last decade, Cisco and other equipment providers have greatly improved the agility of data center infrastructure – the ability to respond quickly to new demands for scale, performance and security. Technologies such as a unified fabric, virtualization and infrastructure controllers augmented by intelligent Automation and Governance have greatly simplified the management of the infrastructure.
But there is strong evidence that the demand for agility is increasing even faster – creating a growing agility gap.
Compared to traditional backoffice applications, new Mobile, Social and Big Data applications are much more dynamic due multi-tenancy, higher demand peaks, more distributed users, broader device support, varying performance needs, 24x7 global usage, and changing security vulnerabilities. Furthermore, to run economically at scale with performance and availability, these applications need a mix of virtualized and dedicated, “bare-metal” resources. And the reality is that only 40% of workloads are virtualized anyway in most enterprise data centers.
These factors are driving more distributed workloads and storage across the data center, more frequent changes to ports, LANs and subnets, more re-configurations of security and load-balancing, more application and flow optimizations and more monitoring and diagnostics to ensure application metrics.
Data center teams are getting overwhelmed. IDC’s 2011 research showed that total Data Center spend has shifted to these type of management and administration tasks – and that was just for virtualized servers. New bare metal workloads will increase this spend further as they move to scale, unless something is done.
At Cisco live! Orlando in June, Cisco unveiled its vision for an Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), a next-generation, secure data center fabric design. At the time, we were only able to unveil key conceptual aspects of ACI, but as we lead up to more detailed product announcements later this fall, we want to bring a little more clarity to the ACI vision, what it will mean for customers, and set the context for those announcements.
[Join our ACI Announcement Webcast on November 6, 7:30 AM PT/10:30 ET/15:30 GMT. Register here.]
ACI is designed around an application policy model, allowing the entire data center infrastructure to better align itself with application delivery requirements and the business policies of the organization. The entire objective of ACI is to allow the data center to respond dynamically to the changing needs of applications, rather than having applications conform to constraints imposed by the infrastructure. These policies automatically adapt the infrastructure (network, security, application, compute, and storage) to the needs of the business to drive shorter application deployment cycles.
ACI offers a highly optimized, application-aware fabric ideal for both physical and virtual workloads. Innovation in ASIC, hardware, software and orchestration results in greater scale, agility, visibility, optimization and flexibility.
On September 30th at Interop New York we announced the Cisco Nexus 3100 top-of-rack flexible switches. The show floor was buzzing with the news and the Techwise TV video below with Senior Product Manager, Jag Tamvada and self proclaimed Chief Networking Geek Jimmy Ray Purser discuss details of the switches.
While the shutdown challenges in the federal government over the past week have been top-of-mind, a recent Cisco survey has discovered that when operations resume, overall budget constraints are seen as the greatest challenge to government IT infrastructure, even ranking ahead of cyber attacks. This information was gathered through a third-party survey, the Cisco Connected Government Study, which was conducted last month by Clarus Research.
400 government IT decision makers (federal, state and local) were included, and the results show that reducing costs and increasing security continue to be top priorities for government IT decision makers. In the face of budget challenges, a majority (59%) of government IT decision makers said they are still likely to increase investment in cyber security over the next year, followed by cloud computing (45%) and networking (42%), according to a new Cisco Connected Government survey.
It’s hard to believe but it’s ten months since I first blogged on Cisco Domain TenSM, which is Cisco Service’s framework to guide you on your path to data center and cloud transformation. I’ve now covered all ten domains of this concise and powerful model. I’ll now collect all articles -- including my most Cisco Domain Ten article around the breadth of SDN adoption challenges -- into this one article as a useful summary. So forgive the brevity and please do dive into the links/URLs for more information if indeed you missed these articles first time. And if you’ve read every article and watched our VoDs, please do let me know what you thought of the series -- oh, and thanks!
Going back, now, I started in December 2012, with our launch of Cisco Domain Ten, where I set the focus for my series of articles as cloud transformation. Let me summarize each article with (and for those that know me you’ll know this is a struggle ) just one sentence with the key message from each blog/domain.