Ecosystem for Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) Tackles Application Agility
Yesterday, Nov 6, Cisco unveiled details of the Application Centric Infrastructure with an ecosystem of partners that share our common view – IT is in need of a transformation to create the Application Economy. Some key technology leaders spoke about the application lifecycle impact of an open and centralized policy model for complete infrastructure automation, including configuration, operation, monitoring, and optimization. I’d like to recap a few of those comments here today.
During the ACI announcement, Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President in Microsoft’s Windows Server and System Center Group (WSSC), said that
virtualization has unshackled applications from the hardware in the past. But now with ACI we can do much more. So first of all, we can have the applications be able to describe their needs for more rapid provisioning. So with the view we can get across physical and virtual, we can see what is happening with the application, we can optimize the infrastructure for the application, and do more rapid troubleshooting.
…the integration with Microsoft cloud OS and UCS is really remarkable. Literally you have a common way to automate everything from the application, down to the operating system, down to all of the hardware level components. But ACI gives us the ability to do some really remarkable things..
Imagine how Exchange, Sharepoint and Linc – being able to be shipped with ACI policies that now describe out how exactly the network should be configured, how it should be optimized, and automatically be provisioned across physical and virtual in a holistic way. That’s the kind of value we are going to be able to deliver together.
On The Official Microsoft Blog, Satya Nadella, EVP, Cloud and Enterprise, Microsoft, blogged:
“…These new solutions are designed to improve business agility and reduce cost by driving infrastructure automation in support of core business processes and applications. This next-generation infrastructure will deliver increased application performance, resource pooling, visibility, automation and mobility through:
· Converged ACI stacks that include fully integrated versions of Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, System Center 2012 R2, SQL Server, Exchange and SharePoint”
I introduced the IT challenge posed by apps that behave differently in my earlier ACI post so now I want to point out that the new converged ACI stacks will fully integrate the operating system, orchestration, applications, server and network infrastructure to provide an enterprise customer with the application agility to rapidly deploy Exchange, SQL Server, and SharePoint, scale and upgrade them, and also to decommission them.
Many next generation distributed cloud applications are being written on open source platforms. For a view on what ACI means to a leading open source cloud platform, OpenStack, let me quote what Jim Whitehurst, President and CEO of Red Hat, said at the launch:
…there’s a whole set of functionality that is required to run a portfolio of true production applications and be able to run a diverse set of applications and to make sure that you can actually guarantee the performance levels that you need. The great thing about ACI is it provides that really differentiated functionality that enterprises need, even on open platforms, but at the same time, it does it with open standards, open APIs, and an open ecosystem so that customers get the benefit without being locked in and maintain the flexibility they are looking for going forward.
For more on Openstack and ACI, see this video – Application Policy and OpenStack – which explains how the DevOps community can extend agile processes to network infrastructure.
Finally, I want to end with the insightful and exciting comments by Jay Kidd, Chief Technology Officer, NetApp posted in the NetApp 360 Blog:
Cisco did a great job of server-side profiles with the introduction of UCS Manager and the ACI initiative extends that to the network and the entire geo-distributed stack of application infrastructure…
Using ACI, a brand new set of storage controllers can be added to an existing cluster under control of the (Cisco) Application Policy Infrastructure Controller. This demonstrates not only the extension of the ACI vision to storage, but the crossover between virtual and physical worlds that ACI offers.
There will be a great deal written about ACI and the vision for order of magnitude improvements in IT operational efficiency. For IT practitioners it is worth reading and understanding. The revolution started by adoption of server virtualization and propelled by the availability of public and private cloud offerings just got a big boost with Application Centric Infrastructure.
There hasn’t been this much significant change in the IT stack since the 80s and it is great fun to be a part of it.
I must say, Jay, I heartily agree.
For links to the full set of ACI ecosystem technology leader blog posts, see the Press Release