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Close Peek at Cisco ACI : Network Abstraction, VXLAN, Programmability

Last week was a memorable one for me in more ways than one. First, the unveiling of Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) specifics by John Chambers and his Executive Management team via a public webcast on Nov 6. The announcement was a big success and received broad endorsement and support from a big eco-system of Partners, customers, Press and Analysts.

Second, personally it is special to me, as I became part of the ACI Marketing team two weeks ago, to join life in fast lane. In this blog I want to share my excitement with you, and focus on nuances of ACI that do not overlap with blogs already posted by Shashi Kiran and Harry Petty.

The excitement started with an ACI boot-camp, I attended last week. In 2 days, I got a good overview on the architectural advantages of Cisco ACI and the Datacenter pain-points it addresses. By now, many of you would have learnt that ACI is all about Datacenter agility and automation. Sounds easy, but you may be wondering how to attain this goal. I will give examples from my career as a software engineer in the 90’s, when I worked for Sun Microsystems. Those days, I wrote code for 2 –tier and three-tier enterprise software applications that required global deployment and access by users on the company-wide WAN.

My problem started as I went from the Application Development phase to Test/QA phase. I had to run from pillar to post coordinating my application deployment needs with security, network and database/storage admins to identify the best rollout strategy. There was no collaboration between Dev and Ops teams. The alpha and beta test phases required testing on multiple subnets, across geographies, via multiple protocols like to establish proper SLA/functioning of the application. If my application had to open say, a firewall port to allow a particular traffic type (non http) it was next to impossible to get security ops to agree. Opening non-http ports were considered a security risk. In addition, tight coupling of network constructs like subnets, VLAN, security, network services, IP addresses etc with one another, further impacted the network flexibility and application deployment process. (Refer to Figure-1 below for details)

abstraction

With ACI architecture, tight coupling between network constructs can be eliminated. Figure-1 above, illustrates this approach via Abstraction.

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Introducing Cisco Nexus 3100 Top of Rack Data Center Switches

Cisco always strives to innovate while meeting customer needs. Today we are proud to unveil the  Cisco Nexus 3100 line of switches as part of our Unified Fabric Data Center portfolio. These highly scalable, power efficient, and flexible switches feature significant improvements in port density, programmability and VXLAN capable gateway functionality that are ideal for data center top-of-rack (ToR) deployment scenarios. As the second generation Nexus 3000 series, they offer a balanced mix of performance, cost, simplicity, and an innovative feature set that complements the rest of Cisco’s overall top-of-rack solutions.

A First Glimpse…

As the below graphic indicates, both switches are 1RU in height with 32 line rate 40-Gbps Quad Small Form-Factor Pluggable (QSFP+) ports for the Nexus 3132Q and 48 line rate 10 Gbps SFP+ with 6 fixed QSFP+ ports for the Nexus 3172PQ. All of the QSFP+ ports on the device can operate as a  native 40-Gbps port or a four independent  10-Gbps ports. The switches also have a serial console port, USB port, PPS connector and an out-of-band 10/100/1000-Mbps Ethernet management ports. From a software perspective, the rich NX-OS operating system fully supports the Cisco Open Network Environment framework with Openflow and the onePK toolkit in addition to standards based Layer 2 and Layer 3 features.

nexus3100_summary

 

What does this mean for your data center? Some examples include:  Improved workload flexibility, higher availability, and Read More »

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#EngineersUnplugged S3|Ep9: The Underlay Network (SDN w/PacketPushers)

Welcome back loyal viewers–this is an episode not to be missed. Engineers Unplugged is thrilled to welcome the Packet Pushers (@packetpushers), aka Greg Ferro (@etherealmind) and Ethan Banks (@ecbanks), as they discuss the underlay network. Yes, they’re showing us the underside and future of software defined networking.

Watch and see:

Welcome to Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:

  1. Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
  2. Subscribe to the podcast here: engineersunplugged.com
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

And it wouldn’t be Engineers Unplugged without unicorns, a software defined one here.

Packet Pushers, aka Greg Ferro and Ethan Banks, plus unicorn!

Packet Pushers, aka Greg Ferro and Ethan Banks, plus unicorn!

We’ll see you next week at VMworld! Be sure to drop by the Cisco booth and try your hand at unicorn whiteboarding.

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Celebrating 5 Year Anniversary of Cisco Nexus 1000V Launch

Today marks an important milestone for one of our most strategic data center products and the foundation of virtual networking portfolio. Five years ago, the Nexus 1000V virtual switch was the pioneer in the virtual networking market with its launch at VMworld in 2008. Since then it has been adopted by over 8000 customers and continues to grow on other platforms, such as Microsoft Hyper-V, and soon Linux/KVM. Today, Nexus 1000V represents the largest software controller-based networking solution (aka, Software Defined Networking or SDN) in the industry.

We continue to add hundreds of paying customers every quarter, in spite of offering a fully featured no-cost essential edition.   The interest in the virtual networking space also continues to increase ever since the SDN trend started.  There are also plenty of FUD or rumors being spread about the Cisco’s virtual networking solution.  On this 5th year anniversary, let’s do some myth busting focused on Nexus 1000V based solutions. Read More »

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Nexus 1000V Winning Multiple Awards; VXLAN Scaling with BGP and More on Display at Cisco live!

Cisco Live Orlando EntranceCisco live is here and the news and awards around the Nexus 1000V cloud networking and services platform just keep rolling in. Last week we announced the Citrix NetScaler 1000V virtual application delivery controller, which will be sold by Cisco. The Microsoft Hyper-V version of Nexus 1000V was officially released this month, and just like its VMware vSphere companion, there is a free version users can download and deploy. On the heels of its release the Nexus 1000V for Microsoft Hyper-V won the Best of Show in the virtualization category at Microsoft’s Tech Ed Conference.

Best of InteropAwards just kept piling up for the broader portfolio as Nexus 1000V InterCloud, our secure hybrid cloud connectivity solution, won a Best of Interop award in Tokyo this month. And just to show the marketing team is pulling its weight, a Nexus 1000V InterCloud video won a prestigious Silver Communicator award in the Online video/ B2B category.

There’s lots of new stuff to talk about Cisco live as well. If you recall, in February I discussed enhancements that Cisco was making in the Nexus 1000V portfolio to eliminate the requirement in VXLAN for IP Multicast. [Those enhancements are now shipping in a new Nexus 1000V release 2.2, full code string 4.2(1)SV2(2.1).] This new version even supports virtual switching for up to 128 hosts and 4096 virtual ports for greater scalability.

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