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Enabling the Network Service Layer for Virtualized and Cloud Infrastructure

The Need for Virtualization
In their quest to reduce administrative and hardware costs and to increase the availability of server resources IT administrators are embracing server virtualization to the point that it has become a fundamental data center technology. Server virtualization makes it possible for IT administrators to move virtual server instances, and the applications that run on them, from one physical machine to another as needed, and have to them running at the new location within moments. This mobility allows IT administrators to optimize server utilization or to take advantage of idle compute resources as well as to recover from server failures almost instantly.

Workload Availability
The mobility of virtual servers is what makes server virtualization so appealing. This mobility not only enables movement of virtual machines from one server to another within the same data center, it also enables movement of virtual machines from one data center to another. Mobility of virtual machines between data centers is critical as it enables IT administrators to make use of available resources in another data center and to recover from data center outages, maintaining availability to applications and business services seamlessly.

The Network Can Help
In the data center application performance, availability and security is enhanced by a number of network services such as server load balancing, WAN Optimization and firewalls, which have been delivered by physical appliances. As IT administrators take advantage of the benefits of server mobility that is enabled by server virtualization they seek to have the same mobility available in the network services that benefit those virtual servers and their applications. While it’s possible to have the same network services appliances running in all data centers the challenge is with configuring them to recognize the specific virtual server instances that have been moved between data centers.

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The Critical Role of the Network in Supporting Cloud-Based Solutions

Cloud Services
The Cloud-based service model offers the Enterprise access to a rich range of services and applications without the overhead of having to deploy and manage the underlying infrastructure. This results in much lower costs for access to services and applications. This is especially true for one time or periodic workloads where resources may sit idle for months until required. As a result Enterprises are increasingly embracing cloud services and benefiting from on-demand availability.

Delivery Models
Demand for cloud services is being met in a number of ways. Independent software vendors offer services from their data center over the Internet, such as Salesforce.com’s CRM application. Some ISVs leverage an IaaS provider such as Amazon to host their application on the Internet such as Adobe’s LiveCycle Enterprise Suite. However, since these approaches rely on the Internet it is not possible to provide end-to-end quality of service (QoS), so neither approach supports providing an SLA for network performance. This is increasingly a concern for Enterprise customers.

The Need for SLA’s
The need for SLA’s for cloud services opens up an opportunity for communications service providers (CSPs) to offer a wide range of network centric solutions that are supported by an SLA. CSPs are in a unique position to offer these solutions because, unlike the Internet, the Next Generation Networks (NGNs) that CSPs have deployed, based on IP and MPLS, are capable of providing contracted levels of availability, delay, jitter and packet loss. As a result CSPs can provide cloud-based solutions with SLAs by providing these solutions to customers from their own data center and over their NGN.

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Unified Network Services for Cloud Service Providers

Services from the Cloud
Services from the cloud offer cost and efficiency benefits to businesses, but until now many customers have been hesitant to buy cloud services, especially for mission-critical business applications, because of concerns about security, performance, and availability. Cloud service providers need to address these concerns by offering network services for applications hosted in the cloud. Cloud service providers can use their data center and IP NGN assets to deliver these services, however, they need a new service delivery model offering the scalability, flexibility, and multi-tenant capabilities needed for cloud service delivery. Delivering cloud services requires efficiency and agility in the data center where applications are hosted. To support on-demand delivery of cloud services, network and computing infrastructures need to be virtualization aware, especially for services that increase the availability and performance of applications.

The Cisco Solution
To meet this need Cisco is delivering virtualized versions of network services appliances as a part of our network services solution. The Cisco® Unified Network Services (UNS) solution presents a new opportunity for cloud service providers to offer security and performance services as well as reporting and monitoring for virtualized applications and other infrastructure services such as BC/DR, VDI or Hosted Communications. Cisco UNS uses a platform based on the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and Cisco Nexus® 1000V Series Switch to increase the scale and flexibility of cloud-based services and to help ensure availability and workload mobility. The Cisco UNS solution lowers the cost of deployment and enables rapid provisioning by removing the need for physical versions of these products and the requirement for racking and stacking, and power and cooling.

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Cloud Ready WAN Optimization Solution with the New Cisco WAAS 4.3.1

Cisco WAAS Business Unit is excited to announce the general availability of WAAS 4.3.1 release!

The new Cisco WAAS 4.3.1 includes virtual WAAS (vWAAS) integrated with Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and Cisco Nexus 1000V, provides uniform WAAS central management to the WAAS Express devices and improved optimizations for Cloud (SaaS) applications like Microsoft Office 365 (BPOS -- Business Productivity Online Standard Suite).

Cisco vWAAS enables the transition to public and private clouds and is a key proof point in the Cisco Unified Network Services (UNS) pillar, a central part of the Cisco Data Center Business Advantage architecture. UNS includes Virtual WAAS (vWAAS), Virtual Security Gateway (VSG) and future services integrated with Nexus 1000V and UCS that differentiates Cisco’s cloud architecture while enabling a gradual transition from physical to virtualized environments.

Cisco WAAS Express extends the WAAS portfolio by offering a cost-effective IOS-based Cisco WAN optimization in the next generation Integrated Service Router -- ISR G2 routers.  WAAS Express, WAAS on SRE (Service Ready Engine) on ISR G2, and WAAS appliances interoperate seamlessly as part of the Cisco Borderless Networks architecture.  Customers and/or Partners can take advantage of Year-End-Sprint offer as part of the router refresh program.

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