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SDN and Beyond: Cisco ACI Starts Shipping to Data Centers Worldwide on July 31!

July 29, 2014 at 5:00 am PST

ACI goes beyond SDN to help customers deliver business outcomes and not just network device programmability.  That’s part of the reason over 175 customers signed up to trial the APIC during the hardware beta.  Now Cisco ACI will start shipping to Data Centers worldwide on July 31! (See Soni’s blog)

From when we first announced the Vision for an Application Centric Infrastructure at Cisco Live Orlando in 2013, it’s been extremely exciting to see customers and ecosystem partners support this new operational model for centrally configuring, automating and operating network and security infrastructure.

The application model for abstracting network infrastructure requirements and policies really does address the operational needs of the infrastructure and application teams.  That was by design, as Insieme’s engineering team worked with the leading cloud infrastructure customers of the world and our Cisco IT organization to incorporate their operational and application needs.  In fact, IDC published a powerful report to confirm the ACI related 3 year OpEx savings forecast at Cisco’s IT Elastic Infrastructure Services (CITEIS), one of the largest data center environments in the world.  Read the IDC Business Value Brief on Cisco ACI to learn more.

With the production APIC, customers can now begin running production applications on ACI.  For insights into why our customers are deploying ACI, we spoke with the leaders of two world-class IT companies that are aggressively rolling out ACI within their own corporate IT.

Symantec IT is an early adopter of ACI and Sean Doherty (VP of Alliances Offerings, Symantec) spoke recently with Shashi Kiran (Senior Director, Cisco) about automating their IT infrastructure with ACI.  About the Symantec IT environment,  Sean said, “Some applications have been through the Physical to Virtual cycle and others are placed on clouds. We are looking to move those into a more modern agile environment. The ACI is providing the infrastructure to build out that new environment…”.  Sean added that ACI helps in significantly accelerating the detection and remediation of security issues with business critical applications.  Check out this YouTube video interview for the full story.

Symantec Doherty NetApp KiddSymantec DohertySymantec Doherty

Representing another user adopting ACI, NetApp’s CTO Jay Kidd spoke recently about the ACI project in their global development lab.  He said this is a large scale deployment covering 2300 racks of equipment wired end-to-end with 40G capacity with Nexus 9000.  Talking about the lab, Jay stated, “One of the beauties of the (Nexus) 9K is the ability to gracefully transition and combine 10Gig and 40Gig together in the same infrastructure. Then with ACI, being able to build up these profiles for the applications or the test scenarios for those applications, store them, provision them dynamically. Anything we can do to make it easier for our developers to use this DevOps private cloud, we think will speed up the time to market and ACI is big part of that”.  The Lab can spin up thousands of Virtual Machines per hour with an aggregate capacity of running well in excess of a million VMs at a given time.  You can  listen to Jay’s eloquent explanation on YouTube here.

NetApp Kidd

Our Cisco sales teams have a great way to help Cisco customers to begin their own ACI deployments with the new ACI Starter Bundles.   An ACI Starter Bundle (Fig 1) has everything you need to create an ACI POD including a resilient cluster of three APICs, two fixed or modular spine switches, eight 40G optics, and two or four leaf switches depending on which of the four bundles are selected.

Figure 1  ACI Starter Bundles include an APIC Cluster with 3 APICs and 8 40G AOC optics

  • #1 Two Fixed Spine Switches, Four Leaf Switches with 192 Ports
  • #2 Two Fixed Spine Switches, Four Leaf Switches with 384 Ports
  • #3 Two Modular Spine Switches, Two Leaf Switches with 96 Ports
  • #4 Two Modular Spine Switches, Two Leaf Switches with 192 Ports

Cisco customers can use ACI Starter Bundles 1 or 2 as policy appliance for flexible/ granular network virtualization and secure isolation in conjunction with their existing base of Nexus 2000 to Nexus 7000 (Fig. 2)

Figure 2 ACI Starter Bundles #1 or #2

Slide1

ACI Starter Bundles #1 or #2 can also be used to scale out a UCS converged infrastructure solution such NetApp FlexPod and VCE VBlock. (Fig. 3)

Figure 3 Scale out UCS Converged Infrastructure Solutions

Slide1

ACI Starter Bundles #3 or #4 can be used as a starting point to scale out private clouds with secure multi-tenancy since they are based upon the more expandable modular chassis. (Fig. 4)

Figure 4

Slide1

When used in conjunction with the just released Application Virtual Switch, AVS, the APIC provides centralized policy based control and automation for any application composed of any number of server tiers containing any number of virtual or physical servers.  These ACI starter bundles enable customers to begin ACI deployments for testing or production operations.  The simple fixed price licensing for a set of leaf ports, 48 or 96, means there is no penalty for running lots of VMs per server vs. bare metal servers. (Fig 5) Customers can predict the cost of running their software defined network infrastructure.

Figure 5 No per VM Tax with ACI licensing

Servers

Contact your Cisco account manager to learn how the cost of an ACI POD is less than the cost of  those dedicated x86 hardware gateways required with leading pure software overlay approaches.  ACI delivers more scale, security, and performance at a fixed predictable cost with documented TCO benefits.

Many of our ecosystem partners announced at Cisco Live that they would be shipping their ACI Device Packages when Cisco’s APIC enters FCS.  The following joint solutions have passed rigorous interoperability testing conducted jointly by the vendor’s and Cisco’s engineering teams in our own ACI testing lab.   These partners demonstrate ACI’s open ecosystem for service integration, investment protection for existing ADC networks, and the benefits of a centralized control point for L2-L3 network and L4-L7 service policy coordination and automation.

  • Cisco ASA security and Cisco ACI solution:   Customers can now deploy Cisco ACI with Cisco ASA and its ACI Device Package to provide automated, policy-based security provisioning, management, and security policy updates, for firewall, intrusion prevention,  and more.
  • Citrix NetScaler and Cisco ACI joint solution:  Customers can use the APIC to coordinate the Citrix NetScaler’s ADC unique application insights for optimized service delivery with ACI’s network automation and obtain end-to-end telemetry and visibility for service-aware applications and tenants.
  • Embrane and Cisco ACI joint solution:  With the APIC and Embrane’s ACI Device Package, ESM automates the deployment and lifecycle management of Embrane’s network virtual services as well as those from Cisco ASA, Sourcefire, and Citrix.
  • F5 Synthesis and Cisco ACI joint solution: Customers can accelerate application deployment by automating insertion of SSL offload and L4-L7 SLB services using F5’s ACI Device Package and the Cisco APIC.

We are publishing interviews with the analysts, the leading practitioners that are hands on with ACI in August in an exciting ACI special edition of Unleashing IT.   I’ll share the link for you here in a few weeks.

Today, we had some great news to share on Data Center and Cloud  Networks.  The Cisco ACI solution portfolio was orderable on July 1 and starts shipping July 31.  This includes the four ACI starter bundles detailed above.  For details on today’s exciting new Nexus switches announcement,  please visit this blog -- Nexus Flexibility Eases Transitions.

Links for more information

The Future of Networking, Available Today

8/15 Demo Friday: Watch Cisco ACI Enable Fast IT

IDC: Optimizing the Datacenter Network for Improved Scalability, Orchestration, and Automation

An Application-Centric Infrastructure Will Enable Business Agility

ESG: Accelerating Transformation with an Application-centric Approach

Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure and Cisco Nexus Switching: Delivering Investment Protection

 

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ACI Momentum Continues

July 23, 2014 at 2:13 pm PST

TWTV 151 ACI Momentum

We embarked upon this episode with an agenda. Take a sample of the building momentum around Cisco ACI. The growing benefits, details and momentum behind the Application Centric Infrastructure. First announced in November 2013 and just before we start shipping.

In my estimation, we saw five areas worth highlighting from Cisco Live:

  1. Cisco is ready to ship ACI
  2. Partnerships and joint use-cases are resonating with customers
  3. Strong integrations with APIC through OpFlex
  4. Partners see strong customer demand
  5. Partner are getting ready to ship ACI-based solutions

Great Q&A with Soni Jiandani from Network World’s John Dix: Cisco describes its SDN Vision She nails Cisco’s ACI vs. SDN messaging and any confusion you may still have with the positionoing. She also puts good context around the OpFlex protocol.

Our show is a great sneak peak for this summer’s blockbuster release of ACI Fabric Mode and the APIC Controller. If you need to catch up. Be sure and review the launch details we covered for ACI in November 2013: TWTV136: Inside the Application Centric Infrastructure

The key elements for ACI in that episode were:

  • Application Awareness -- top down control based on what was important
  • A new, tighter coupling between software and hardware
  • Architecture
  • Recognition that virtualization on the compute side had not been accompanied by requisite innovation on the network wide -- potential for wasted opportunity.
  • East West traffic was growing gangbusters in the data center and needed assisted.

We walk through the following components of the offering:

  • APIC -- Centralized cluster controller
  • Northbound API for standardized communication and control from Applications that need to interact with the Fabric
  • Southbound API for third party network services integration
  • Profiles -- Application Network Profiles -- the logical representation of all components of the application and its interdependencies on the application fabric
  • ACI Fabric -- new stateless hardware within the Nexus portfolio, 9000 series

So what was still missing?
- APIC GUI -- How would we interact?
- Migration plan -- Clarity on how to leverage within existing networks
- Southbound interface -- more details on network control
- Partner Plans -- who would support?

And that formed much of what we wanted to cover for today’s show -- filling in the blanks on the momentum…just before the big release this summer.

Shashi Kiran level on set on what has been accomplished.
TWTV 151 ACI Momentum

Ronak Desai, Director of Software Development walked Jimmy Ray through the new APIC interface.

TWTV 151 ACI Momentum

I got a chance to ask Mike Cohen about OpFlex and where it fits.

TWTV 151 ACI Momentum

And finally, Jimmy Ray weighed in with his view on partner support and the growth we are seeing for the Eco-System.

Please to enjoy!

Robb
@robbboyd

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Fresh Perspectives on Monetization in Programmable Service Provider Networks

bioShot-sWritten By Wayne Cullen, Senior Manager, Service Provider Architectures

Agility. Scalability. Automation. Orchestration. Programmability. Service providers are exploring such an array of new and exciting capabilities these days! You hear a lot about lowering costs by increasing efficiency and decreasing complexity.

But what about monetization? More specifically, do programmable networks help make you money while also saving it? What are the competitive benefits that lead to higher revenues from service agility and faster time-to-market? According to a 2013 Heavy Reading study, that’s a top expectation of service providers when asked about the potential benefits of software-defined networking (SDN). The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) has also promoted monetization opportunities based on SDN through new service creation and the enhancement of existing ones due to faster service creation, easier scalability, and mass customization.

Enhanced Revenue Generation with SDN-enabled Applications and Services Read More »

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Will Software Defined Networking Actually Happen?

As a writer for the IT media, conference speaker, and co-host of the Packet Pushers podcast, I cover emerging networking technologies often. The new tech that comes across my screen ranges in value from “I can’t believe that got funded,” to “Why has no one thought of this before?” and everything in between. As a big idea, software defined networking (SDN) seems to generate about that same range of responses from network engineers. Some networkers think that SDN is an extraordinary technology that’s going to change the world of IT. Others see SDN as yet another in a long string of quirky networking ideas that never gained acceptance. In fact, as I’ve read responses to my SDN-related content over the last few years, I believe that more folks are in that latter camp. SDN is a fad. SDN is a buzzword. SDN will go nowhere useful. SDN will eventually fail to have a universal impact.

I understand the cynicism. After all, for a long time, networking had lapsed in an innovation coma, with nothing especially exciting coming along to really shake things up. Yes, Ethernet’s gotten faster. And that BYOD thing got everyone excited a couple of years ago. But for the most part, we design, build, and operate networks the same way today that we did fifteen or more years ago. The core underlying protocols have grown up or had new knobs and levers added, but generally speaking, if a networker of the past fell out of a time warp and into a design project today, it wouldn’t take them too terribly long to catch up. Read More »

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Service Providers Can Utilize Network Virtualization to Advance Human and Economic Development

With a rapidly increasing number of people, devices, machines and sensors coming online across the Internet of Everything (IoE), global service providers will require new capabilities to lead in the delivery of value-added, cloud-based services and applications. Service providers are recognizing the importance of using intelligent, virtualized networks that efficiently deliver new experiences and expand revenue opportunities. While there are many residential, business and mobile solutions that service providers can offer, network virtualization is also crucial for deployment in developing regions.

CLE Virtualization 800x800final

The IoE aims to bring the world together through technology and empower those who were once isolated, by transforming the ways they communicate. Access to mobile technology varies and may not be as prevalent in developing regions of the world. However, tablets and mobile phones are beginning to transform how these developing regions obtain and relay information. In fact, mobile phone subscriptions have climbed to nearly 5 billion in the Read More »

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