Earlier this month, I blogged about the challenges of Cloud Sprawl.  Let’s now turn to the challenges of “Application Sprawl”!If you are planning migration of applications inside or between data centers, or if you are planning a migration to Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), the understanding of your applications and how they tie to the underlying infrastructure will be top of mind.

If you are not sure precisely what infrastructure you have in your data center, if you are not sure exactly how many application instances are running in your data center, and what the component workloads are, if you are concerned about whether your network design best serves your application estate: you are not alone!

Let’s be honest, many organizations are in this position – so  read on to find out more on how the Cisco Application Dependency Mapping Service will help you!  And we’ll tell you more about some exciting technology we’re incorporating to help understand the application landscape, and your associated software costs, via automated analysis coupled with the expertise of Cisco Services consultants.

Cisco Application Dependency Mapping Service - Key use Cases
Cisco Application Dependency Mapping Service – Key Use Cases

Most business applications are distributed in nature, spread across a business’s corporate network. In contrast to the days when I wrote software applications (and that wasn’t yesterday, let me tell you – in fact it wasn’t even this century!), applications are now on general loosely coupled with partner and supplier applications, and the IP network is now the primary platform connecting various dependent components.

Successful and timely implementation of data center initiatives such as data center consolidation, application migration, and transition to Cisco ACI requires an in-depth understanding of the application, server, network and SAN assets in the data center and their interdependencies.  If you have concerns on how to obtain such insight, the Cisco Application Dependency Mapping Service is your answer.

The Cisco Application Dependency Mapping Service helps customers understand the relationship of their data center applications and application components to the underlying infrastructure.  We help customers understand which applications are sending traffic through which switches and ports, what VLANs the apps are actually using, and the level of network bandwidth being utilised by each application.  This helps us optimize the network and data center design to support the needs of the application.

In past engagements, we’ve helped customers see that particular applications are sending traffic over congested and expensive WAN links only to “hairpin” back into the same data center.  We’ve subsequently helped customers understand and improve end user experience by identifying network design limitations on application traffic paths.  In one recent engagement, the Cisco Application Dependency Mapping Service showed the customer that their Dev/Test apps were communicating with production systems – and that the dependency could result in production impacts – without the customer previously being aware of this at all.  We’ve also helped customers understand how much bandwidth is really required for e.g. VLAN communication – ensuring that they neither under-spec nor over-spec the cost of expensive data center interconnect (DCI) links.

As an aside, I remember watching a service provider customer a few years back when they discovered this effect between their PoPs (Points of Presence).  Our toolset was telling them clearly traffic flowed out of one PoP and straight back to the original PoP – that was an amusing argument to watch between the network design staff (“that shouldn’t be happening”) and their operations counterparts “but it very clearly is happening” J, with much denial on display!  The Cisco Application Dependency Mapping Service is your answer to identifying these problems.

In this service, we make use of automated tools to help us discover the network, server, SAN, application components and their interconnection paths.  In Cisco Services, we are always looking for ways to improve the services we deliver to our customers.  Use of automation tools to deliver more insight in shorter timeframes is always on our radar.  And we are more than happy to make use of best of breed third party toolsets when they add value to our customer challenges. With this in mind, we are pleased to announce that we are now exploiting the advantages of application-level discovery capabilities of the iQuate® iQSonar™ discovery technology within the Cisco Application Dependency Mapping Service, complementing some of the Cisco Services-developed tools including the Cisco Data Center Analytics Framework (DCAF).

iQuate are a leading data center discovery and inventory company – a Gartner Cool Vendor of the Year 2013 in IT Operations Management.   Using their purpose-built iQSonar discovery technology, we in Cisco Services are able to automate more of our Application Dependency Analysis activities and gain greater levels of insight into application components in particular.  This, however, is not the end of our story.  What is much more interesting is how we will exploit the iQuate insights into software assets – essentially software license analysis and cost optimization – to help us identify cost savings for customers in their data center, and help us provide customers with cost justifications for future data center consolidation projects.  Watch this space for more information in future blogs! Ping and/or follow me on Twitter to hear more.


Stephen Speirs

SP Product Management

Cisco Customer Experience (CX)