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Why virtualizing the Network is not the same as virtualizing the Server?

VMware launched NSX, its Network Virtualization platform at VMworld last week. In his keynote, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger portrayed Network Virtualization as a very natural extension to what VMware accomplished in Server Virtualization. However market fundamentals and early drivers for Server Virtualization are not quite the same as Network Virtualization. Hence any comparison and contrast between the two should be understood and weighed on in their respective contexts.

The drive for Server Virtualization fundamentally was an attempt to address the growing gulf between faster rate of technology advancement in server space relative to customer ability to utilize the excess capacity. It was a trend that was driven by the focus towards gaining efficiency in an era where cost was becoming important. Over nearly a decade now Server Virtualization has accomplished this goal of better utilization of assets:  And server utilization levels have increased by a factor of 4 over the years.

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Networks in the data centers today however do not suffer from this excess capacity problem. If any, the problem is the reverse – user demand for networks capacity continues to outpace what is currently available. As long as there remains a growing gulf between user expectations for capacity relative to technology advancement there will remain opportunity for vendors to innovate in this space. In other words unlike the server world, network virtualization does not shift the value away from the underlying infrastructure.

Server Virtualization is transforming IT by providing greater business agility. Goal of Network Virtualization should be to bring similar business agility for the network. However, this goal need not require complete decoupling of the virtual network from underlying physical network as some vendors may lead you to believe. Any goal of gaining agility by completely decoupling physical and virtual network can only be done with some confidence, by significant under-provisioning of the physical network. For if the bandwidth is plenty the overlays have less dependency on understanding or integrating with the underlying infrastructure. This shortsighted approach, which focuses on business agility, but ignores business assurance, will increase the network capital expenditure and operating expense spend over time. Note that even in the server world where compute efficiency was attained, the benefit did not come at any capex or opex savings. Capex savings attained on server hardware was offset by increased cost of virtualization software. And we have seen opex continues to increase over the last decade.

As IT increasingly begins to take on a service centric view, more intelligence will be needed at the edge – physical or virtual edge.  Cisco’s launch of Dynamic Fabric Automation (DFA) last July, address this view of an optimized fabric infrastructure with a more intelligent network edge that can enable any network anywhere, supporting transparent mobility for physical servers and virtual machines. Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) takes this a step further by enabling application-driven policy automation, management and visibility of physical and virtual networks. They however also integrate the physical and the virtual network for an agile service delivery that also assures full lifecycle user experience.

 You may want also to read on this topic

Dynamic Fabric Automation : http://www.cisco.com/en/US/solutions/ns340/ns517/ns224/ns945/dynamic_fabric_automation.html

Shashi Kiran’s blog :  The Next Paradigm Shift: Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI) gets ready to rumble 

Padmasree Warrior’s blog : Limitations of a Software-Only Approach to Data Center Networking 

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Cisco Solutions for EMC VSPEX: Collaboration Helps Build Momentum

Cisco and EMC continue to partner closely to speed our customers journey to the cloud via our “three paths to the cloud’ strategy. The strategy enables customers to implement custom-design infrastructures with best-of-breed products, validated reference architectures via Cisco solutions for EMC VSPEX, and pre-integrated converged infrastructure from VCE.

In the last year, Cisco solutions for EMC VSPEX have generated significant momentum with customers and partners.  In this short period of time we have:

  • Signed up more than 850 channel partners
  • Nearly 1,000 VSPEX customers around the world
  • Published 9 CVD’s focused on virtualization and desktop virtualization
  • 60% y/y growth in viewership on our VSPEX CVD pages

Cisco and EMC will continue collaborating on VSPEX to expand the solution portfolio and accelerate growth. As a preview of future VSPEX CVDs, two new solution briefs have just been released. These solution briefs enable customers to choose their desired hypervisor, Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 R2 or VMware VSphere 5.1, and get a validated configuration for up to 1000 virtual machines based upon Cisco UCS servers and networking with next-generation EMC VNX Series storage. The next-generation EMC VNX Series storage will complement VSPEX solutions by enhancing virtual application performance through multicore optimization software taking advantage of the latest multicore CPUs.

Building your own infrastructure solutions can not only take time and resources but also can introduce additional risk and complexity. This is exactly the problem that Cisco solutions for EMC VSPEX solves by offering presized and validated solutions that give customers confidence that they are deploying the right balance of computing, networking, and storage resources.

Congratulations to the Cisco and EMC teams for their momentum with Cisco Solutions for EMC VSPEX and thank you for making it easy for organizations to quickly deploy a powerful, secure virtualized environment without the expense or risk entailed in designing and building a custom solution.

To learn more about Cisco’s solutions for EMC VSPEX please visit www.cisco.com/go/vspex.

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“Network as a Service” Brings the Benefits of Virtualization to Network Operators

carlos-corderoBy Carlos Cordero, Cisco Consulting Services, Service Provider

Cloud consumption models are gaining traction across all company sizes and industries.  Whether software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), or platform as a service (PaaS), the value propositions of virtualization are being sought by IT decision makers.

Cisco Consulting Services sees an opportunity for network service providers (SPs) to deliver a similar experience through a new solution architecture that we call network as a service (NaaS). NaaS does for the network what SaaS and IaaS have done for the data center —  offering many of the same value proposition components, such as lower OpEx and increased agility, as well as new business model levers and distribution benefits.

A Simple NaaS Architecture Delivers Broad Benefits

To illustrate the value, this paper focuses on NaaS for mobile operators, although similar value could be articulated across all SP segments. Today, the various engineering and operational functions required to enable new customers, new services, and repairs are buried behind monolithic and independent network elements. The goal of NaaS is to simplify the architecture through virtualization, bringing disparate software solutions onto common hardware.

At the heart of mobile NaaS is an intelligent core with the service elements needed to deploy mobile data services (Figure 1). Traditionally, each software element runs on dedicated hardware, but under NaaS, these elements are separated so the software can run on shared virtual machines. The model also includes a common storage and compute infrastructure that can be delivered to the intelligent core as needed through a virtual machine approach. The intelligent core should work across a variety of licensed and unlicensed access technologies, shown at right. The active service catalog represents the SP’s ability to create unique service environments by combining service elements in an automated and simplified way. Finally, the secure portal enables consumers and business customers to access and manage their own network instances.

Figure 1.                  Mobile NaaS Is Anchored in a Flexible and Extensible Set of Service Elements. Read More »

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Cisco vPath Technology Enabling Best-In-Class Cloud Network Services

vPath, a Cisco innovative technology developed within Cisco Nexus 1000V, has been shipping for more than 2 years, enabling customers to seamlessly create policy-based multi-tenant / multi-container Data Centers across multiple hypervisor environment. Increasingly, customers are implementing network services into their virtualization and cloud networks in order to meet regulatory, security and service levels. To this end we are seeing increased deployments of virtual firewalls, load balancing, routing, WAN optimization & monitoring tools. Cisco’s vPath technology allows customers to deploy these best-in-class network services seamlessly in their Data Center and Cloud deployments. So, what makes vPath so unique in this industry?

#1 -- vPath Powered Service Chaining at a tenant level: For customers to create multi-tenancy architecture today, they have to configure the different network services and manually “stitch” them together for every unique combination. While this method provides the goals for regulatory compliance, security and service levels it often increases application provision time, and does not easily support application mobility. Additionally most applications have to follow the same manually stitched network services.

With Cisco Nexus 1000V vPath technology, the customer’s Data Center becomes very agile by enabling policy based services chaining at the application or tenant level. Customers can create policies and select the L3-7 virtual services appropriate for the application at the time of VM or Tenant creation. These policies are then dynamically instantiated and fulfilled in the Nexus 1000V distributed virtual switch.  If the particular application VM moves, the Nexus 1000V network policy moves with it and hence the service chain remains intact.

Figure 1: Policy based dynamic service chaining through vPath

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 #2 -- vPath enables Distributed Cloud Network Services: As noted in the picture above, vPath controls the packet flow through all Services that are chained for that particular policy. Once the first few packets of the flow is inspected by each Service node, vPath offers the capability to off load flow decisions of the particular Service to the local host such that the subsequent packets of the same flow are locally inspected at the host. Through this mechanism, vPath improves the performance of the particular service since the subsequent packets of the flow are no longer required to be inspected by the individual Service node and hence enabling distributed behavior of the particular service.

Figure 2: Distributed Cloud Network Services through vPath Fast Path Offload

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#3 -- vPath offers Best-In-Class Cloud Network Services across multiple hypervisors: vPath enables the customers to use the best-in-class Cloud Network Services from Cisco such as Virtual Security Gateway, ASA 1000V & virtual WAAS, and best-in-class ecosystem partners such as Citrix NetScaler 1000V & Imperva Secure Sphere Web Application Firewall.  This vPath enabled architecture will be supported across all major hypervisors such as VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, KVM and Xen. 

#4 -- vPath to become a standard based Network Services Header: In traditional fashion, Cisco creates innovative solutions to help solve our customer’s IT challenges. Once proven, we offer these technologies such as VXLAN through standards bodies to allow greater interoperability and choice. Recently, vPath header format has been submitted to the IETF as a Network Service Header draft.  In the future customers will be able to leverage dynamic policy based services chaining including both virtual and hardware based solutions that support Network Services Header! 

To learn more about Cisco Nexus 1000V and Cloud Network Services, please visit our community site. Create a Cloud Lab account and checkout out the vPath in action today!

Lastly, if you are at VMworld, make a point to attend our sessions PHC6409 and NET6380, or stop by at the Cisco booth.

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Check the Latest Cisco Unified Computing System Innovations for Virtualization & Cloud– Visit the Cisco Booth at VMworld San Francisco, 2013

VMworld 2013 opens on August 25th, 2013, at the MOs cone Convention Center in San Francisco, California. Cisco is a Global Diamond Sponsor, as we highlight our Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS), Solutions for virtualization and cloud.

 Cisco’s unique, fabric-centric architecture-Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS), combines high performance compute, network and storage access bound together by an integrated control plane with embedded systems management. Cisco UCS serves as a common, centrally managed platform that simultaneously supports the unique requirements of the full spectrum of application workloads and a wide variety of operating models for bare metal, virtualized or cloud environments

The best way to quickly learn about latest Cisco UCS innovations and solutions for virtualization and cloud is by seeing them “LIVE IN ACTION”. Come to the Cisco booth #1005 to leverage the Cisco UCS demos, theater sessions and related activities at VMworld San Francisco, 2013.

Learn more about Cisco UCS: Visit Cisco booth # 1005 to interact with peers, Cisco executives, and Cisco partners.

 Ask Cisco UCS Experts: Cisco UCS experts will be available to answer your questions and provide interactive live demonstrations of Cisco UCS.

 Attend Keynote speaking sessions:

Dates/Times/Topics:

1.      Monday, August 26th-3.30-4.30 pm: ATT’s Migration to vSphere with AutoDeploy

Speaker: John Kennedy- CSPG UCS Product Mgmt. and DC Solutions

 2.      Tuesday August 27th-3.30-4.30 pm: Cisco Innovations Enabling Cloud Infrastructures

Speaker: Ram Appalaraju- VP, Marketing

3.      Wednesday, August 28th-11.00-12.00 pm: The Next Wave of Virtualization & Fabric Computing with Cisco’s Unified Computing System

Speaker: Roger Barlow- CSPG UCS Product Mgmt. and DC Solutions

 

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Attend Cisco UCS Theater Sessions: Visit the Cisco Solutions Theater at booth #1005 to attend the informative Cisco UCS theater sessions.

Location: Cisco Campus Solutions Theater
Dates/Times/Topics:

  • Sunday, August 25th -- 4.30-4.50 pm- Pragmatic Approach to Transforming UCS
  • Monday, August 26th -12.30-12.50  p.m.-Managing a Growing UCS environment
  • Monday, August 26th -2.00-2.20  p.m. -- UCS Central Best Practices
  • Tuesday August 27th  -12.00-12.20 pm-  vCenter Orchestration plugin for Cisco UCSM
  • Tuesday August 27th  -2.00-2.20 pm-UCS Best Practices in VM Environments
  • Tuesday August 27th  -3.30-3.50 pm-Deploying a Private Cloud with FlexPod and UCS Director
  • Wednesday, August 28th- 10.30-10.50 am- VMware vSAN – Data Center integration with Branch Offices on Cisco UCS and Cisco UCS E” and “VMware vSAN on Cisco UCS – The Cisco Advantage
  • Wednesday, August 28th- 11.30-11.50 am-Unified Infrastructure Management with Cisco UCS Director

 Explore the Cisco Unified Computing Demos:
Simplify Compute, Network and Storage Access Management with Cisco UCS

1.      Simplify Computing with UCS Manager, UCS Central and SingleConnect : Get simplified and cost-effective infrastructure for bare-metal, virtualized, and cloud environments. Reduce cost & complexity with Cisco SingleConnect technology and Simplify management with UCS Central across multiple data centers and geographies.

 2.      UCS and VMware Management Integration: Demonstrates the integration of UCS into VMware orchestration tools, including a vCenter plug-in and monitoring tools.

 3.      Scalable, Higher Performance Virtual Desktops: Demonstrates the performance, manageability and TCO advantages that UCS brings to VMware Horizon View desktops for scalable, stateless/floating desktops and graphics-intensive workstations/applications. 

 4.      Cisco UCS V-Rack Kaon demo: Interactive Kaon demo showcasing Cisco UCS system components and solutions

 I will be at both # 1005 with the Cisco UCs Experts team throughout VMworld 2013. Please stop by to ask questions, and to get a live Cisco UCS demonstration.

Enjoy the show!

Girish Kulkarni

Sr. Marketing Manager-Cisco UCS

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