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Cisco Service Provider is Bringing Cloud Scale Networking to Cisco Live Berlin

Cisco Live Berlin 2016 is almost here and we would like to highlight a few key points that this event can bring your way. As you know networks are an essential part of business, education, government, and home communications. Every company in every vertical industry is facing unprecedented competitive pressure from new players making innovative usage of software and data analytics. It forces companies to embark on a digitization journey, which ends up having profound consequences on network infrastructure. You may also already know that the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) forecast predicts significant traffic growth in such networks and Global Cloud Index (GCI) forecasts data center and cloud growth showing that total DC traffic will be 3X going from 2014 to 2019. So we worked out a Cisco service provider strategy to help you to stay ahead of the curve and we are delivering SP solutions to help you transform your business. Such strategy will not only increase the speeds and feeds, but will also provide comprehensive ways of growing your business through the virtualization and programmability of services based on Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) innovations. We want Cisco SP technologies and solutions to help increase your profitability and reduce your operational costs while reducing time to market. Cisco’s Open Network Strategy is our vision that fosters new solutions positioned to help you transform the way you handle your day-to-day operations and let you become an empowered provider.

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Come visit the Service Provider booth to see how Cisco’s Service Provider Cloud Scale Networking Solutions for the Software Defined Operator are driving transformation through innovation at Cisco Live Berlin, February 15-19, 2016. We will feature demonstrations, product strategy overviews, and much more!

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Cisco ACI: Overcoming the ‘Stack Fallacy’

There’s a new buzz phrase making the rounds recently around the concept of the “stack fallacy,” with the premise being that market leaders in any industry are well adept at going “down the stack” in terms of innovation but constantly struggle to stave off more nimble upstarts who are creating disruption in the layers above. The underlying factor, according to the source of this theory, is companies focusing too much on the tools they need to build and not enough on solving the evolving needs of their customers.unleashingit

As the undisputed leader in networking infrastructure for decades, Cisco is now faced with this innovator’s dilemma with the emergence of SDN, or software-defined networking, which has spawned countless wannabes hoping to redefine how enterprise networks should be built. But as evidenced by the progress Cisco has made from vision to reality with the Cisco® Application Centric Infrastructure (Cisco ACI), it is clear that Cisco is succeeding in every measure in overcoming the stack fallacy challenges.

Cisco introduced the ACI a little over a year ago. Since then more than 1000 customers have already deployed the groundbreaking SDN architecture as part of their application deployment and management processes. We believe the key success factor has been our ability to build the ACI ground-up on the fundamental understanding that that today’s enterprises must do a lot more with a lot less, and do it a lot faster.

Cisco incorporated this design principle into the original ACI architecture and has constantly evolved it with customer-driven features and capabilities such as:

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The Digital Transformation Comes With A New Approach to Service Assurance

The Digital Transformation_Image 1NFV and SDN are past their hype cycle and way into gaining significant traction since their initial introductions into the market. Many of our customers who have deployed or plan to deploy our solutions based on these technologies understand that an important factor for realizing the full benefits of NFV and SDN is service assurance. Service assurance is crucial in the era of digital transformation and in effectively operationalizing NFV and SDN enabled networks, towards offering your customers an outstanding, end-to-end digital experience. However, in today’s virtualizing network, service assurance requires a whole new approach and one that greatly differs from what traditional systems can provide.

First, let’s take a look at some of the important characteristics of the changing cloud infrastructure on which services are offered and what this means for assurance systems.

  • Complexity and scale: Cloud infrastructures are extremely complex due to the large number of distributed network elements across multiple technologies and service domains. The multiple layers of the infrastructure stack which include the underlying physical elements, the virtual overlays, and service components creates critical inter relationships and dependencies. In order to rapidly isolate problems and proactively resolve them, first, the assurance system must holistically understand these links and dependencies and second, it must be scalable given the significant number of services it must support
  • On-demand services and elasticity: NFV and SDN help deliver services agility and enable more flexible service consumption models such as the “pay as you go” option which is increasingly adopted by customers whose service requirements change over time. In this model however, the time between service turn-up and turn-down is much shorter compared to that of traditional services. This means the assurance system must be aware of the dynamic changes to service topologies, in real-time, in order to proactively assure services. Additionally, in NFV based infrastructures, service placement can also dynamically change, such as in failure scenarios. In such instances, the assurance system must again, quickly recognize and adapt to the associated changes.
  • Multi-tenant environment: More and more businesses are turning to the cloud to experience new applications, collaborate on mission critical projects and utilize IT resources more efficiently. Here the service elements (compute, network, storage) that support these functions are virtualized on a per customer and per tenant basis. Therefore, it is essential for the assurance system to have an accurate and contextualized knowledge base on a per customer/tenant perspective in order to understand the potential impact a network issue may have. This is especially important for supporting those customers who rely on your services to run their most critical business functions

With traditional assurance systems, Read More »

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Part 2: Ten Learnings and Observations from the 2015 London Gartner Data Center Conference

Last week I attended the 2015 London Gartner Data Center conference.

Shadow IT - Addressing the Challenges with the Cisco Cloud Consumption Services

Shadow IT – Addressing the Challenges with the Cisco Cloud Consumption Services

In my first blog (part 1) on this event,  I covered some of my main learnings and observations, #1 .. #5:

  • Bi-modal IT,
  • Anti-fragility,
  • Shadow IT (and how Cisco Cloud Consumption Services can help you here, SDN, and
  • Software asset management,

Let’s now go on and discuss #6 … #10 … on topics from buzzwords, to SDx, and on to Scotch Whisky! Read More »

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Top 3 Ways New ACI Innovations Improve Your Data Center

Yesterday, Cisco announced a new software release for ACI. If you are looking to automate IT, or build out your cloud environment, and want to do so in an open fashion that provides a lot of flexibility – then you’ll probably be interested.

Why? The new ACI release:

  1. Makes managing and securing your cloud environment easier;
  2. Provides openness, expanding customer choice; and
  3. Delivers operational flexibility

OK, so what does this actually mean?

  1. Makes managing and securing your cloud environment easier

Three of the most popular cloud management tools include Microsoft Azure Pack, OpenStack and VMware vRealize. Earlier this year, we announced Windows Azure Pack ACI integration. With this new ACI release, we integrate ACI with OpenStack and vRealize, as well. (More details are here.) So this means that if you need to, say, provision a virtual workload in vCenter, ACI automagically orchestrates things to match computing resources and networking infrastructure.  So, you can enjoy the policy based automation and all the other benefits of ACI regardless of which of these tools you use to manage your cloud environment.

This also means OpenStack users can now create and manage their own virtual networks, extending ACI policy directly into the hypervisor with a hardware-accelerated, fully distributed OpenStack networking solution – the only one available that integrates both physical and virtual environments.

To more easily and completely secure these environments, the new release provides micro-segmentation support for VMware VDS, Microsoft Hyper-V virtual switch, and bare-metal endpoints. Essentially, this means more granular enforcement of security policies.   These can be based on numerous different criteria relevant to attributes associated with the network, e.g. IP address, or the virtual machine, e.g. VM identifier, Name, etc. There are additional capabilities that can, for example, disable communication between devices within a policy group (intra EPG, for those more familiar with ACI) – useful in thwarting lateral expansion of attacks.

  1. Provides openness, expanding customer choice

Piggybacking off some comments above, it’s worth noting that since ACI’s inception, one of its differentiators has been the ability to integrate physical servers as well as virtual machines, and to apply policy consistently across them. Well, now there’s a new kid on the block, as the industry observes an increasingly popular trend to use containers as another way of operating applications.   As part of this announcement, we are extending ACI support to include Docker containers, in addition to VM’s and bare metal servers. This is done by using Project Contiv, which is an open source project that has a Docker network plugin allowing, among other things, automatic configuration of Docker hosts to integrate with ACI. Check out details on this video and/or this white paper. Network Computing commented here, that:

“Given all the hubbub in the industry over Docker, ACI’s new Docker container support is noteworthy.”

Another way this new release is driving openness and providing more choice for customers is around L4-7 services. ACI now supports service insertion and chaining for any service device.  So, customers can leverage their existing model of deploying and operating their L4-L7 device, while automating the network connectivity. This is in addition to, not instead of, the device package model, which provides for more comprehensive ‘soup to nuts’ automation. Speaking of which, as part of this announcement, several new partners also joined the ACI Ecosystem. This video provides some insight into how some of them automate your applications.

  1. Delivers operational flexibility

The new release has a number of tools that create more flexible operating environments. A quick rundown includes the multi-site app, which enables policy-driven automation across multiple datacenters, providing enhanced application mobility and disaster recovery. In short, this means you can run ACI in 2 different data centers, and extend the policy across them. Other tools provide the ability to do configuration rollback, as well as NX-OS Style CLI. This is for the CLI junkie that wants to run the entire ACI fabric as a single switch. There are some other cool nuggets in here as well, like a heat map that provides real-time visibility into system health.

Clayton Weise, Director of Cloud Services at KeyInfo, summed it up best when he said:

“ACI is the direction we’re going to go because it gives us the best flexibility.” (Read the entire Network World story here.)

In summary, this new release adds capabilities that will help you more effectively manage and secure your cloud environment, as well as leverage the benefits of both openness and operational flexibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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