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ACI Programmability Enables Cloud Tenant BC/DR Across Dual Data Centers

Ask any storage administrator trying to deploy Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) solutions between two data centers if it is simple  to get the networking set up for mission critical applications in a BC/DR scenario.  I am willing to wager you’ll hear the same tales I’ve often heard, that the storage team and the network team have a difficult time setting up the necessary network configurations for the storage replication application’s service level requirements between sites.  Equally important, there is also a complicated challenge with providing a duplicate infrastructure at the secondary site so that the application will be able to come up to restore the application to service  quickly (often referred to as the Recovery Time Objective, RTO).

Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure enables a novel solution to this problem which one of our ACI partners, World Wide Technology, Inc. (WWT), recently deployed. It illustrates the power of the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller’s (APIC) and the ACI fabric’s open programmability. To appreciate this, let’s take a closer look at the problem.

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Federated ACI Fabrics for Dual Data Center Deployments – A Disaster Recovery ACI use-case

Wins, Accomplishments, Fast Action, welcome to the world of Cisco ACI. In this blog, I want to take you closer to the core of ACI excitement. Cisco Insieme Business Unit and Cisco’s premier Partner, World Wide Technology Inc (WWT) have come together in developing an ACI based Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) solution for the next generation Data Centers. This blog specifically addresses the Disaster Recovery ACI use case implemented in WWT’s Advanced Technology Center (ATC). I will present highlights of how ACI has been implemented at ATC as two fabrics, across two Data Centers with federated controllers implementing an autonomous infrastructure and with replicated tenant configurations that will provide for disaster recovery.

This BC/DR use case couples the storage replication solution by Zert0 on NetApp storage and with a completely integrated and consistent ACI network solution on the primary and secondary sites to enable rapid application bring up on the remote site.  Network and security policies are replicated, compute resources are virtualized and synchronized, and storage is continuously replicated.  This integrated architectural approach addresses one of the major challenges enterprise customers have in deploying BC/DR solutions – aligning the configuration and deployment of network infrastructure in a simple process with the storage and application teams to achieve the Recover Point and Recover Time Objectives.

Network architecture: The ACI based network architecture is comprised of two independent fabrics with L3 connectivity between them. Each data center has a unique IP addressing namespace scheme and connects to the WAN. In the operational model per diagram-1, the “East” Data Center is termed primary and the “West” Data Center termed the backup (disaster recovery). Each Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (Cisco APIC) controller cluster is identified as the primary or secondary instance, and changes, additions or deletions to the application tenants, are replicated from the primary to the backup controller. Application tenant configurations are managed through a special Python module developed by WWT that programmatically synchronizes the two fabrics.

BCDR-1

External WAN connectivity for each Data Center is provided through the common tenant in respective ACI fabrics. By using the common tenant for external connectivity, the network and security administrator can assign the appropriate network configuration policy, security contracts and as well as firewall and load balancing services for the fabrics in each data center. The application (DevOps) teams will reference the common configuration and configure application connectivity for intra- and inter-tanant communications through the Application Network profile (ANP). F5 Gobal Traffic Manager (GTM) allows holistic management of multi-data center application delivery via intelligent DNS.

BCDR-2

This ACI based Disaster recovery solution has several other facets like storage replication, orchestration software (developed in-house by WWT) among other solution components. Please watch the YouTube Video for a demo illustration and the whitepaper for design details.

In closing, some key takeaways. Cisco ACI’s innovative architecture enables enterprise apps to treat the Data center as a dynamic, shared resource pool. This pool of resources is managed through a central controller (Cisco APIC) exposing all configuration and management components through a northbound REST API.  WWT exploits this programmatic interface of ACI to develop business continuity/disaster recovery solutions for customers.

Related Links

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnA1P1aYYYc&list=UU-ZgkyIop9MqOL4QF80UU9Q

www.cisco.com/go/aci

www.cisco.com/go/apic

https://www2.wwt.com/sites/default/files/White%20Paper%20-%20ACI%20and%20Disaster%20Recovery%20Solution.pdf

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Customers Put Complex Environments in the Hands of a Master Specialized Partner

I am always excited to talk about Master Specializations. And you may have heard at Partner Summit, back in March of this year, about our heightened focus and continued commitment to our Master Partners.

“Our Master Specializations in Security, Collaboration and Cloud speak to our subject matter expertise and ability to dive deeper, creating business relevant solutions for our customers.” This is how John Rohde of World Wide Technology (WWT) aptly describes his experience as a Cisco Master Specialized partner. WWT has been a Cisco Gold Partner since 2002, and they made a careful decision to become Master Specialized, going deeper in three areas: Security, Collaboration, and Cloud Builder.

Why did we add Master Specialization to our Channel Partner Program portfolio? It’s simple: to build greater customer confidence and stronger relationships in an increasingly complex technological world. Our Master Specialization helps you better align your expertise with to your customer’s business needs.

For example, an area like security is relentlessly high-pressure and constantly changing. When customers put their trust in Cisco technologies to enforce the strongest security possible, they want to work with a partner who has invested in and demonstrated a level of proficiency that is on par with Cisco security experts. Read More »

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#EngineersUnplugged S2.Ep4: #EUC Buzz!

In this week’s episode of Engineers Unplugged, WWT’s Dave Kinsman (@virtualizethis) and Chris Gebhardt (@chrisgeb) take on the current buzz in the end-user computing space. Listen in on all things VDI, from storage to flash:

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

This week features our very first duck-i-corn. Wow. Groundbreaking collaboration.

Dave Kinsman (WWT) and Chris Gebhardt (NetApp) with the world's first duck-i-corn.

Dave Kinsman (WWT) and Chris Gebhardt (NetApp) with the world’s first duck-i-corn.

For more on the EUC conversation, follow @ciscoDC. Check out the Engineers Unplugged Facebook page for behind the scenes pictures, updates, and more.

Stay tuned next week for an incredible double header: Nick Weaver and Jay Cuthrell talk Automation and Andy Banta and Andy Sholomon practice the KISS method.

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Engineers Unplugged (Episode 12): Active-Active Home Lab, What’s on your wish list?

In this episode of Engineers Unplugged, Cisco’s Josh Atwell (@Josh_Atwell) talks to WWT’s Jon Duren (@jduren) about his home lab, including Jon’s plan for expansion and wish list. Let’s watch:

Every home lab needs a spy gnome. With Josh Atwell and Jon Duren.

Every home lab needs a spy gnome. With Josh Atwell and Jon Duren.

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

What’s on your home lab wish list this season? How does it impact education and training for you and your team? Join the conversation here or by following along on Twitter with @ciscoDC. Thanks to all–next week’s episode is the last of the season!

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