It seems people sometimes have this view of SDN as addressing rather esoteric use cases and situations. However, the reality is that while there are instances of ‘out there stuff’ happening, there are many situations where we see customers leverage the technology to address pretty straightforward issues. And these issues are often similar across different business/vertical/customer types.
Aftab Rasool is Senior Manager, Data Center Infrastructure and Service Design Operations for Du. I recently had the chance to talk with him about Cisco’s flagship SDN solution – Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) – and Du’s experience with it. I found there were many instances of Du using ACI to simply make traditional challenges easier to deal with.
Du is an Information & Communications Technology (ICT) company based in Dubai. They offer a broad range of services to both consumer and business markets, including triple play to the home, mobile voice/data, and hosting. The nature of their business means the data center, and thus the data center network, is critical to their success. They need a solution to effectively handle challenges of both deployment, as well as operations…and that’s where ACI comes in.
I’ll quickly use the metaphor of driving to summarize the challenges Aftab covers in the video. He addresses issues that are both ‘in the rear view mirror’ as well as ‘in the windshield’ – with both being generalizable to lots of other customers. What I mean is that there are issues from the past that, though they are largely behind the car and visible in the mirror, still impact the driving experience. There are also issues on the horizon that are visible through the windshield, but are just now starting to come into focus and have effect.
Rear view mirror issues – These are concepts as basic as scalability associated with spanning tree issues, or sub optimal use of bandwidth, also due to spanning tree limitations. These issues are addressed with ACI, as there is no spanning tree in the fabric, and the use of Equal Cost Multi Pathing (ECMP) allows use of all links. Additionally, use of BiDi allows use of existing 10G fiber plant for 40G upgrades, thus obviating the expense and hassle of fiber upgrades. As a result, the ACI fabric, based on Nexus 9000’s, provides all the performance and capacity Du needs.
Windshield issues – These are represented by a range of things that result from business’s need for speed, yet are diametrically opposed by the complexity of most data centers. The need for speed through automation is becoming more and more critical, as is simplifying the operating environment, particularly as the business must scale. Within this context, Aftab mentioned both provisioning and troubleshooting.
Provisioning: Without ACI, provisioning involved getting into each individual switch, making requisite changes – configuring VLANs, L3, etc. It also required going into L4-7 services devices to assure they were configured properly and worked in concert with the L2 and L3 configurations. This device by device configuration not only was time consuming, but created the potential for human error. With ACI, these and other types of activities are automated and happen with a couple of clicks.
Troubleshooting: Before ACI, troubleshooting was complicated and time consuming, in part because they had to troll through each switch, look at various link by link characteristics to check for errors, etc. With ACI, healthscores make it easy and fast to pinpoint where the challenge is.
Please take a few minutes to check out what Aftab has to say about these, and other aspects of his experience with ACI at Du.
Cisco recently announced the Cisco Catalyst 6840-Xbackbone switch to address new network backbone needs, especially in space constrained deployments.
According to the Visual Networking Index, Network traffic has grown exponentially over the last several years, and this trend is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. By 2018, there will be over 20 billion networked devices, a 100% increase from 10 billion in 2011. Business IP traffic is expected to reach 13.1 exabytes per month in 2016.
While devices grow in number, wireless connectivity speed is increasing. Gigabit wireless (802.11ac) enables a network that is three times faster due to its 1.3 Gbps capacity. 802.11ac Wave 2 more than doubles that. Thus, the bottleneck is moving “up the network” from wireless AP to the access uplinks. With 1G becoming the standard for access switch ports, access switch uplinks will need to move to ubiquitous 10G and 40G.
To help improve business, networks must be capable of scaling well beyond the needs of today to deal with the traffic of tomorrow while at the same time providing investment protection. While most Enterprise network engineers agree with this approach, the actual number of enterprises moving in this direction is still relatively small. According to a report published by the Dell’Oro Group, it’s not a technology issue – there are plenty of products on the market to handle 10G – but the economics of the network upgrade remain the key challenges, such as equipment cost, expense of upgrading and future proofing.
Today, Cisco is announcing the Cisco Catalyst 6840-X and 3850 10G Fiber Series for campus backbones to address new network infrastructure needs, especially in space constrained deployments.
According to the Visual Networking Index, traffic is expected to triple in the next four years. This means that many campus networks will lack the provisioned capacity to meet this expected growth in bandwidth. In fact, some network managers are telling us that this is already happening to their campus networks.
With video and bandwidth-intensive applications continuing to proliferate, traffic on campus networks is growing exponentially. This drives not only the challenge of managing the demand for growing scale in a secure and reliable fashion, but also the opportunity for IT to leverage video and robust applications to “add value to the business”. Customers and suppliers are gravitating to businesses that offer them a comprehensive view of product offerings, an instant response, and easy transactions. This also drives additional demands on the network as an enabler for the business.
Things are changing with employees as well. While many employees are provided a mobile phone, most already have at least three mobile devices including laptops, tablets and even private smart phones. Even when employees are not actively using the apps on their mobile devices, these devices can create additional background traffic (OS, App updates & backups). According to a Cisco IBSG study, there are three times more devices per person than just a few years ago. Virtually all devices connect through the employer’s network, which has to service all these devices in a secure, scalable and reliable fashion.
While devices grow in number, wireless connectivity speed is increasing. Gigabit wireless (802.11ac) enables a network that is three times faster due to its 1.3 Gbps capacity. 802.11ac Wave 2 more than doubles that. Thus, the bottleneck is moving “up the network” from wireless AP to the access uplinks. With 1G becoming the standard for access switch ports, access switch uplinks will need to move to ubiquitous 10G and 40G. Read More »
In a recent post, we discussed Dimension Data’s 6th Network Barometer Report and its recommendations. Detailed in this exhaustive report, Dimension Data has found that 32% – about 1/3 – of all Service incidents are related to Human Error*. (* 6% Configuration Errors and 26% Other human errors)
We’re all human and we all make mistakes – that’s the way we learn. However, in this era of constant connectivity, with mobility and the Internet of Everything growing rapidly, there is an ever-increasing demand on your network to perform, be available and stay secure. Incidents of IT failure are becoming more and more costly, not only from an operational aspect, but even more so from the loss of uptime, data and customer satisfaction. What if you could have 33% less service incidents, while using 32% less resources, keeping your network as stable as ever? That’s where Cisco Active Advisor can help you!
It’s no secret that Cisco Active Advisor is a huge time saver – Cisco Active Advisor is a free cloud-based service that automatically discovers Cisco Enterprise Networking products with no hardware or software installation, and can not only keep you up-to-date on important lifecycle milestones, but also analyze your network health and offer recommendations for improvement.
Cisco has compiled a set of Best Practices Designs, based on experience gained from multiple TAC and escalation cases, engineering testing and customer interviews, into a set of recommendations that can improve reliability, availability and performance of your network. Read More »
It’s undeniable that the biggest convergence happening in the access layer is Wired/Wireless. Today, we’re no longer forced to treat wired and wireless any differently when it comes to network visibility and management. However, the unification of Wired/Wireless doesn’t come without its own challenges and complexity.
As we’ve seen with the latest switching announcement at Interop 2015, there is a lot of noise in the marketplace and customers and partners increasingly need to cut through this to achieve their IT goals and meet today’s increasing demands on the network and the demands of tomorrow.
Earlier this week, HP made false claims about our Catalyst 4500E switch. To help you out, here is what you need to know about Cisco switching and, specifically, our Catalyst 4500E switch:
As the world becomes increasingly more digital, there is an elevated need for a flexible and scalable network to address rapid shifts in technology use and its associated traffic. We’ve seen tremendous demand for our modular switches that supply the best flexibility for this change. In fact, Cisco has the industry’s most widely deployed modular access switches with a modular PoE port share that just reached an all time high of 81.5 percent.
To tackle the biggest convergence in the access layer, Catalyst 4500E supports built-in wireless controller capabilities and delivers common intelligent services across wired and wireless for security and policy, application visibility and control, network resiliency, smart operations, and more.
Cisco’s Catalyst Multigigabit (mGig) technology available across the access portfolio including the Catalyst 4500E can prepare customers’ access switches for the next wave in wireless, 802.11ac wave 2 by delivering speeds beyond 1 Gigabit on existing Category 5e cables. This technology also supports PoE, PoE+, and Cisco Universal PoE (UPOE) so you don’t need to install new electrical circuits to power your access points.
Cisco’s modular access switch portfolio offers backward compatibility with up to three generation of line-cards providing unmatched investment protection – 2x in terms of number of years over other vendors.
A key operational consideration for IT is to maximize uptime and provide seamless code upgrades. In Service software upgrades (ISSU) have been available on Cisco’s 4500E portfolio for almost a decade
The Catalyst 4500E has unmatched scale to meet the needs of a customer’s network and future proof for an influx of new devices – 25X route entries, 16X multicast entries & 42X Security/QoS entries when compared to other vendors.
As IoT trends upward, more “things” connect to the access network and it is key that the network is able to scale to meet these needs – Cisco offers 33 percent more scale in terms of POE+ ports and 50 percent more POE+ scale for redundant power deployments to connect more users, devices and things. Additionally, Cisco supports UPOE, which future-proofs our customers for upcoming applications requiring more than 30W/port.
Security is a top of mind for our customers and Cisco offers a complete end-to-end solution with support for MacSec, Cisco TrustSec, Identity Services Engine and Flexible Netflow, providing the best in class network encryption, segmentation and networking sensing solutions.
The Catalyst 4500E is designed for supporting rich media services with its superior multicast scale and design. Cisco Catalyst 4500 is designed to support hardware accelerated multicast with deep buffers. The Cisco Catalyst 4500E accommodates up to nine times larger data bursts, delivered to otherwise loaded output ports, without loss.
Cisco Catalyst 4500E supports a multitude of capabilities that support IT simplicity and smart operations. Examples: Simplified provisioning with Plug and Play, Simplified configuration of switches & interfaces with AutoConfiguration and Interface templates and faster troubleshooting with embedded wireshark, a world-class protocol analyzer.