In the application economy, it is all about time to application delivery and focus on optimizing the entire application lifecycle. With the sustained “cloudification” of IT, supporting multiple applications while reducing cost and complexity in a multi-cloud environment becomes very critical. Most companies suffer from application sprawl with scripting, complex workflows and a cumbersome ticket-based approach defining the application rollout. It is therefore no surprise that many companies hit the “pause” button especially when they are not in a position devise a clear strategy to automate and manage applications in a multi-cloud environment. Unfortunately, this puts them in a holding pattern and at a competitive disadvantage vs. others that are willing to take a more proactive role to transforming the application lifecycle.
The good news is several innovative solutions today are cropping up to address this problem. For its part as a leading infrastructure vendor Cisco is making it really easy to program and automate infrastructure, as well as focus on solutions that build private clouds or establish a mature hybrid cloud presence. Cisco’s UCS portfolio, open NX-OS capability across the Nexus family of switches, SDN controller-based solutions like the Virtual Topology System (VTS) as well as industry-leading innovations like Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) are all making rapid strides in this direction.
The Cisco ACI approach has been focused on making networks (and other network infrastructure components) more application centric for traditional data center as well as cloud-based deployments embracing a mix of Cisco innovations, open source, open APIs as well as a very robust open ecosystem. Several established players as well as innovative startups have seen value in coming on board this ecosystem and delivering joint solutions to customers. One such exciting startup is CliQr, located in Santa Clara – the heart of the Silicon Valley.
Recently I had an opportunity to sit down with Thomas Raabo, Network Operations Manager of Zitcom, a premier partner-driven hosting company based out of Denmark. Thomas and his team address companies and applications of various sizes, and were one of the early adopters of Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). At the time of my conversation, they had this architecture in production for almost 10 months.
Thomas’s take on it was quite interesting. When I asked him to compare the before vs. after scenarios with Cisco ACI, he shared some insights –
Time to market dropped from hours to minutes (applications, VMs were deployed much faster)
Making firmware upgrades (usually a challenge for any NetOps person), became “kid’s play”.
Application teams are better integrated with the network team and have access to the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) if they want to. This helps reduce silos.
Interestingly, programmers without network knowledge are able to program into networks rapidly deploying new services
Data Centers and Clouds are all about applications. The efficacy of a data center or cloud deployment is a function of how quickly applications can be stood up, scaled or de-commissioned as required. As new architectures continue to evolve, data center and cloud architects are constantly on the lookout for innovative ways to further simplify operations, lower costs, increase responsiveness and provide flexibility of consumption models.
In this context, I’d like to take the opportunity to profile Pulsant – a cloud service provider from the United Kingdom. They provide colocation services across 10 data centers with managing hosting and innovative hybrid services that are continually evolving.
A short while ago, I had the pleasure of having Martin Lipka who heads the Pulsant network architecture team participate in a talk with me sharing deployment insights with customers at the F5 conference in Edinburgh. He talked about the simplicity of Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), and the synergy with F5’s BigIP and BigIQ offerings down the line. For the benefit of the broader humanity that was not in the room with us, I requested him to sit down again and distill some of his views. Martin was kind enough to oblige and shared his insights on diverse topics including how he expects data center architectures to evolve, candidly confessing why he was wrong about automation trends and how he feels the job roles will morph in the coming years. Interestingly, some of his sentiments were also echoed by Stefaan Hinderyckx, Network and Security Director of Dimension Data Europe. Stefaan is not in this video, but he had joined our session as well and it was good to see everyone excited about the possibilities of network, security and data center transformation.
A fresh case study from Pulsant is also posted here.
Also, at the same conference, I was invited to sit down with F5 EVP Dave Feringa and SVP Calvin Rowland along with my colleague Patrick Schmidt who’s the Managing Director overseeing the EMEA region, where we discussed the partnership, momentum with Cisco ACI and scaling our joint marketing activities.
Business requirements define Applications. Applications run on IT infrastructure. If the IT infrastructure is more responsive to the needs of applications, then, it almost certainly guarantees better business outcomes. That is the premise of Cisco’s next Data Center webcast to be broadcast on January 13th at 9 AM PST/ 12 EST – Is your Data Center Ready for the Application Economy?(Click Link to Register!)
Today, more than ever as the pace of change accelerates and disruption is the name of the game, CIOs and IT infrastructure leaders from all over the world are taking a closer look at how data center infrastructure can be better tailored to fit the needs of applications. Can the pace of change become an opportunity?
Eight global customers in production (including Cisco IT) from countries like Brazil, Qatar, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States that have deployed the Nexus 9000 and APIC come together to answer this question in our webcast focused on Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). This will be followed by an ACI Ecosystem partner panel coming together to discuss the benefits of multi-vendor collaboration.
Application Centric Infrastructure Special Edition
It has been just a few short weeks since the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) began shipping, building upon the availability of the Nexus 9000 series and laying the foundation for Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). The feedback from early adopters has been quite positive. As of August 13th, 2014 we had over 580 Nexus 9000/ACI customers and over 60 have bought the APIC within just two weeks. We are highly encouraged by the momentum and are looking to build upon this over the course of our next fiscal year.
Recently, IT leaders have been talking about how software-defined networking (SDN) will usher new levels of business agility into their IT organizations, and it’s clear based on our early results that ACI not only delivers on these expectations but takes a leadership stance in delivering the industry’s best SDN solution.It is therefore a great time for us to take a look at these early adopters, explore and share their motivations for choosing the ACI approach. Customers are genuinely excited with the open architecture and the flexibility and cost savings they get with a true systems approach and it is pertinent to understand their business challenges, architectural expectations and benefits they hope to receive over time.
To create a forum for these stories, we’ve produced a special edition of Unleashing IT— a publication I’m very excited to share with you as it sheds light on what I truly believe is a transformative innovation.