Software Defined Networking, Cisco Style
As new technologies emerge and replace traditional ones, IT teams are discovering that building an infrastructure around new functionality is advantageous in a slew of ways.
One such disruptive technology gaining ground is software defined networking, or SDN.
The premise of SDN is to allow the user to determine how the network behaves by decoupling the control plane from the data plane. Control planes are essentially the “data directors,” instructing the data plane on where to transfer packets of data. The data plane then establishes the best path and carries the data to its destination. By separating these two functions, the user can program the open-source network to act in accordance with business requirements—using a central management interface in a vendor-neutral manner.
Not only has Cisco joined the SDN approach, they’ve gone beyond the basics of SDN to include an application-driven infrastructure. It’s called, appropriately, Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure, or Cisco ACI.
Cisco ACI combines hardware, policy-based control systems, and software to deliver management automation, programmatic policy, and dynamic workloads. It’s built around the application, not the network.
What’s the advantage? Doing so enables greater support for scalability, a more dynamic network, and centrally-defined portable policies—all of which lend to faster application provisioning and a more efficient environment.
While many SDN solutions are focused solely on software and virtualization, the reality is that hardware still exists and is an integral part of the network. Cisco ACI leverages existing hardware—because no matter how de-emphasized it may become, the physical infrastructure remains important.
As Cisco senior vice president of marketing Soni Jiandani tells Unleashing IT, “ACI is SDN plus a whole lot more. Other SDN models stop at the network. ACI extends the promise of SDN—namely agility and automation—to the applications themselves. Through a policy-driven model, the network can cater to the needs of each application, with security, network segmentation, and automation at scale. And it can do so across physical and virtual environments, with a single pane of management.”
And Shashi Kiran, senior director of market management at Cisco, shares his views on Cisco ACI in this blog.
As businesses are becoming more dependent on applications, they must stay competitive and relevant by considering updating their infrastructure to speak directly to the needs of the application. Learn more in this edition of Unleashing IT, a special release focused on Cisco ACI – produced by Cisco and Intel® – and see how early adopters are realizing the benefits it brings to the table.