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Cisco at the Fall ’14 PONC, Oct 28-30, Baveno Italy – Informative Workshops

By Leonard Luna, Senior Marketing Manager, Cisco Service Provider Solutionsheadshot-resized-sp360

The Fall ’14 Cisco Packet Optical Networking Conference (PONC) is quickly approaching – October 28-30 in Baveno & Vimercate, Italy.  Don’t miss this opportunity to participate in this highly compelling and informative event (To learn more visit the Cisco PONC Series webpage).

If you are a PONC veteran, then you appreciate the value of this event – an opportunity to network with industry peers, hear directly from carriers leading the convergence evolution, see the latest technology innovations, and to have your voice heard.

If this will be your first PONC, then let me prepare you for this compelling event.

Cisco conducts this three day event twice a year –in the spring in San Jose California, and in the fall near its facilities in Vimercate, Italy.  Read More »

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The Benefits of an Application Policy Language in Cisco ACI: Part 1 – Enabling Automation

[Note: This is the first of a four-part series on the OpFlex protocol in Cisco ACI, how it enables an application-centric policy model, and why other SDN protocols do not.  Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4]

IT departments and lines of business are looking at cloud automation tools and software-defined networking (SDN) architectures to accelerate application delivery, reduce operating costs, and increase business agility. The success of an IT or cloud automation solution depends largely on the business policies that can be carried out by the infrastructure through the SDN architecture.

Through a detailed comparison of critical architectural components, this blog series shows how the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) architecture supports a more business-relevant application policy language, greater scalability through a distributed enforcement system rather than centralized control, and greater network visibility than alternative software overlay solutions or traditional SDN designs.

Historically, IT departments have sought out greater automation as device proliferation has accelerated to overcome the challenges of applying manual processes for critical tasks. About 20 years ago the automation of desktop and PC management was an imperative, and about 10 years ago server automation became important as applications migrated to larger numbers of modular x86 and RISC-based systems. Today, with the consolidation of data centers, IT must address not only application and data proliferation, but also the emergence of large scale application virtualization and cloud deployments, requiring IT to focus on cloud and network automation.

The emergence of SDN promised a new era of centrally managed, software-based automation tools that could accelerate network management, optimization, and remediation. Gartner has defined SDN as “a new approach to designing, building and operating networks that focuses on delivering business agility while lowering capital and operational costs.” (Source: “Ending the Confusion About Software-Defined Networking: A Taxonomy”, Gartner, March 2013)

Furthermore, Gartner, in an early 2014 report (“Mainstream Organizations Should Prepare for SDN Now”, Gartner, March 2014), notes that “SDN is a radical new way of networking and requires senior infrastructure leaders to rethink traditional networking practices and paradigms.” In this same report, Gartner makes an initial comparison of mainstream SDN solutions that are emerging, including VMware NSX, and Cisco ACI. There has been some discussion whether Cisco ACI is an SDN solution or something more, but most agree that, in a broad sense, the IT automation objectives of SDN and Cisco ACI are basically the same, and some of the baseline architectural features, including a central policy controller, programmable devices, and use of overlay networks, lead to a useful comparison.

This blog series focuses on the way that Cisco ACI expands traditional SDN methodology with a new application-centric policy model. It specifically compares critical protocols and components in Cisco ACI with VMware NSX to show the advantages of Cisco ACI over software overlay networks and the advantages of the ACI application policy model over what has been offered by prior SDN solutions. It also discusses what the Cisco solution means for customers, the industry, and the larger SDN community.

Read More »

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Transform Service Provider Architectures to Support Virtualized Managed Business Services

ginaBy Gina Nienaber, Marketing Manager, SP Product and Solutions Marketing

Cisco estimates over 50 billion new devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020.  To support the Internet of Everything, service providers must undergo an infrastructure transformation.  The network needs to become more open, programmable, automated, adaptive, and agile.  To guide this transformation, the Cisco open network strategy for service providers is depicted as three interwoven layers:  the Evolved Programmable Network (physical and virtual network Infrastructure), the Evolved Services Platform (for orchestration of resources) and Applications and Services layer to enable virtualized services such as Cloud VPN and Security.  With these three layers working together, providers can begin to realize the benefits of an open network that is readily open to new devices, open for quickly enabling new services, and open to endless possibilities.

Last week, Cisco announced two Read More »

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Join Us at BBWF 2014

Written by Greg Nehib, Cisco Senior Product Marketing Manager nehib-1

Network functions virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN) will get a lot of interest this year at BBWF 2014 Broadband World Forum 2014 as carriers seek to make networks more agile and efficient. In talking to both service providers and large enterprises, it’s clear that we are already in another major transition in the networking industry.

I’ve spoken with many talented individuals about what NFV and SDN means to their networks.  Some of these visions are very broad and long ranging and some are more narrowly focused on delivering or optimizing a single service very quickly.  It’s clear that NFV has already been deployed in many different service applications while SDN has been noticeably slower to develop a focused following.  Even in the case of Virtualized Network Functions (VNFs), there is an interesting combination of features focused on services delivery and features focused on infrastructure innovation.  In this case “services” are typically the services that carriers sell to their end customers such as a  Virtual Private Network (VPN)  and “infrastructure” is the virtualization of the typical network functions such as a virtualized route reflector on an x86 based server instead of running the route reflector application in an existing (physical) router. Read More »

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Security for an Application-Centric World

Organizations are migrating to the cloud because it dramatically reduces IT costs as we make much more efficient use of resources (either ours or by leveraging some cloud provider’s resources at optimal times). When done right, cloud also increases business agility because applications and new capacity can be spun up quickly on demand (on-premises or off), network and services configurations can be updated automatically to suit the changing needs of the applications, and, with enough bacon, unicorns can fly and the IT staff can get home at a reasonable hour.

Whenever you ask a CIO-type at any of these organizations what’s holding them back from all this cloud goodness, though, more often than not the answer has something to do with security: “Don’t trust the cloud…”, “Don’t trust the other guy in the cloud…”, “Cloud’s not compliant…”.  You have to be something of a control freak to be a CIO/CISO these days, and, well, isn’t “cloud” all about giving up some control, after all (in return for efficiency and agility)?

Even if you overcome your control issues and you find a cloud you can trust (even if it’s your own private cloud – we can take baby steps here…), if we are going to achieve our instant on-demand application deployment, network provisioning and cost-efficient workload placement process, it turns out all the security stuff can throw another obstacle in our way. Cloud security isn’t like old-fashioned data center security where you could just put a huge firewall in front of the data center and call it good. For secure multi-tenancy and a secure cloud overall, virtually every workload (or “every virtual workload”?) needs to be secured from every other (except for the exceptions we want to make). Some folks call this “microsegmentation”, a fancy word for an old concept, but, a fundamental requirement that cloud deployments need to address. (Spoiler alert: ACI does this very well.) Read More »

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