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Part 3 – SDN Questions to Ask at the Gartner Data Center Conference

My final observation from my days at the London Gartner Data Center Conference is related to SDN and ease of network management – or otherwise.  Hopefully this discussion will give you some ideas for good questions to ask at the Las Vegas conference, which is running as I write this.

Cisco UCS on show at the Gartner Data Center Conference

Cisco UCS on show at the Gartner Data Center Conference

Before I start, if you are at the conference in Las Vegas, please do take time out to visit the Cisco stand #305 to find out more onCisco solutions including Unified Computing and ACI.  Also take some time to say hello to our with new, exciting team members from our Metacloud acquisition – it’s fantastic to have such OpenStack and DevOps expertise in particular part of the Cisco team.

To catch up on my earlier questions, see my part 1 and part 2 blogs – questions you can ask at any SDN conference or of any vendor, since this blog series is not just about the Gartner conference. Now on to more SDN questions to ask ….

 

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Part 2 – SDN Questions to Ask at the Gartner Data Center Conference

The London Eye

The London Eye

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, last week I attended the Gartner Data Center Conference in London.   I came out of the conference with some questions I asked and some questions I wish I had asked! So if you are attending the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas, USA, this week, here are some suggested questions you can ask in the SDN-related seminars!  And if you are not at the conference, don’t worry – feel free to ask these questions of your candidate SDN vendors (including Cisco!)

Today I’ll cover :

(4)    If OpenStack is part of your SDN/NFV solution, can you help us on OpenStack?

(5)    What is the best hardware server platform for NFV/virtualised workloads?

I’ll leave question (6) on SDN and management until tomorrow – I feel a rant coming on and I’ll need more space :-)  Again, for questions (1) – (3), please refer to my part 1 blog.

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Defeat IT Complexity To Free Time For Innovation

When Apple Pay was announced in September this year, it brought a lot of attention to the digital payment business. But this is certainly not the first sign that we are moving rapidly towards a digital society. For example, Starbucks has been doing this for years by handling millions of mobile wallet payments every week. In fact, they took 90% of the $1.3 billion mobile payment market last year. So, what is their secret sauce of success? Their CEO boils it down to:

  • Mobile payments convenience, and
  • Automatic loyalty rewards

The opposite of convenience and automation is complexity. Cisco is hosting a live “Defeat IT Complexity” webcast on Tuesday December 10, 2014, to help you to achieve outstanding results with innovation and simplification.

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SDN Questions to Ask at the Gartner Data Center Conference

London's Big Ben at Night

London’s Big Ben at Night

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Gartner Data Center conference in London.   I attended 3 different sessions on SDN-related topics.  Here are some of my observations from what was a very good conference.  Also, since the Gartner Data Center conference runs this week (w/c 1 December 2014) in the US, if you are going, here are some questions to think about when you attend the SDN sessions.

(1)    What does “lack of visibility” in Virtual Overlays really mean?

(2)    In multi-layer SDN, will SDN be cheaper than our current networking approach?

(3)    Are Vendors Guilty of Using NFV for SDN “Washing”?

(4)    If OpenStack is part of your SDN solution, can you help us on OpenStack?

(5)    What is the best hardware server platform for NFV/virtualised workloads?

(6)    How exactly does SDN deliver better network management?

I’ll cover a few questions today and some tomorrow.

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Network Services Headers (NSH): Creating a Service Plane for Cloud Networks

In the past, we have pointed out that configuring network services and security policies into an application network has traditionally been the most complex, tedious and time-consuming aspect of deploying new applications. For a data center or cloud provider to stand up applications in minutes and not days, easily configuring the right service nodes (e.g. a load balancer or firewall), with the right application and security policies, to support the specific workload requirements, independent of location in the network is a clear obstacle that has to be overcome.

Let’s say, for example, you have a world-beating best-in-class firewall positioned in some rack of your data center. You also have two workloads that need to be separated according to security policies implemented on this firewall on other servers a few hops away. The network and security teams have traditionally had a few challenges to address:

  1. If traffic from workload1 to workload2 needs to go through a firewall, how do you route traffic properly, considering the workloads don’t themselves have visibility to the specifics of the firewalls they need to work with. Traffic routing of this nature can be implemented in the network through the use of VLAN’s and policy-based routing techniques, but this is not scalable to hundreds or thousands of applications, is tedious to manage, limits workload mobility, and makes the whole infrastructure more error-prone and brittle.
  2. The physical location of the firewall or network service largely determines the topology of the network, and have historically restricted where workloads could be placed. But modern data center and cloud networks need to be able to provide required services and policies independent of where the workloads are placed, on this rack or that, on-premises or in the cloud.

Whereas physical firewalls might have been incorporated into an application network through VLAN stitching, there are a number of other protocols and techniques that generally have to be used with other network services to include them in an application deployment, such as Source NAT for application delivery controllers, or WCCP for WAN optimization. The complexity of configuring services for a single application deployment thus increases measurably.

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