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Italian Service Provider Transforms Virtualized Server Farm Management

March 19, 2012 - 0 Comments

FASTWEB logoA key component of Cisco’s Unified Data Center and our virtual networking portfolio is the Nexus 1010 virtual services appliance. We were excited last month when we announced a more scalable version, the Nexus 1010-X. As I pointed out before, the idea of a virtual services appliance is to provide a dedicated hardware platform for running a wide range of network services, monitoring and security virtual machines rather than having them share server resources with key business applications. From an administrative point of view, these network services VM’s can be managed by the networking team, rather than the teams running VM’s on the application servers, which is the right division of labor. The Nexus 1010 platform runs NX-OS and basically looks like a network device rather than a VM host, helping the network admins manage the service policies.

Now we are releasing a case study of an Italian service provider, FASTWEB, who is using the Nexus 1010 to simplify the management of their virtual network, and network service policies. As part of a sustained and forward looking strategy, the Italian service provider has built a next-generation network for delivering converged voice, video, data and mobile services. This investment has enabled FASTWEB to accelerate the creation of new, differentiated offers for business and residential customers, while reducing operational complexity and overhead.

The Nexus 1010 supports network analysis down to the VM layer, giving FASTWEB’s network administrators granular visibility to virtual workloads, without having to trouble the storage and virtualization operations teams.

For example, hosting the virtual version of Cisco Prime Network Analysis Module (NAM) on the Nexus 1010 appliance provides a higher level of VM control and analysis by extending visibility to application traffic patterns into the VM network.

FASTWEB also has the potential to strengthen security at the VM level by hosting the Virtual Security Gateway (VSG) on the Nexus 1010. VSG is an intra-tenant firewall that can be used to create zones of trust with the data center. We have highlighted VSG in previous posts, as you may recall, here, here and here.

FASTWEB’s approach of using the Nexus 1010 to clearly define server and networking domains has transformed virtualized server farm management. New services can be deployed faster. Improved load-balancing of traffic across the server farm, combined with better visibility of virtual machines, has optimized operations.

“We’ve taken a quantum leap in the way we handle over 1000 VM’s”, says Luca Salati of the Network Engineering team and Luca Chiappetti of the Network Operations team. “The Cisco Nexus 1010 provides fewer points of management and better tracking of machines as they transfer around the data center.”

The Nexus 1010 gives a large technical advantage to the Nexus 1000V virtual switch that other virtual switches can’t match by providing the functional equivalent of a management control plane to the virtual switch by hosting the switch’s Virtual Supervisor Module (VSM). FASTWEB is also considering the possibility of hosting the Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) LAN virtual service blade on the Nexus 1010. DCNM simplifies the deployment of NX-OS features in both physical and virtual switches. It can be used to monitor the performance of individual VM’s and provide VM-aware path analytics, giving greater granularity and control.

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