Data centers

06:51 PM
Greg Ferro
Greg Ferro
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Cisco ACI Solves All Your Data Center Network Problems

Cisco launches its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), bringing open overlay networking and SDN to the entire data center.

Cisco claims that over time, support for ACI will extend to most of the current products produced by the partners pictured in the image above. That will require APIC support to be added to each version of code for each device, however, and that will takes months or even years to accomplish. Until Cisco leadership commits all business units publicly to this strategy, I remain somewhat cautious to endorse this eventuality.

Physical and Virtual Networking

The most important element of the Cisco ACI strategy is that it creates an overlay network that is independent of the network endpoint. ACI works for businesses that want to simply automate "ports and VLANs" or that want to build a simple multi-tenant LAN system to replace complex MPLS networks. It also works for systems that use fully automated flow management and offers support for OpenStack, Hyper-V and appliance-based network services like firewalls, network taps, intrusion detection and load balancers.

For many companies, their ITIL-derived business processes make it impossible to transform their organizations and move to fully virtualized network capability. This degree of structural change breaks the foundation of ITIL modeling by transgressing service boundaries. It will take some time for customers to abandon entrenched ITIL structures that clearly will not work in this system.

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One big benefit of ACI, according to Cisco, is that its integrated hardware/software model will be significantly cheaper than the software-only model. This claim is based on the entire solution, not just capital costs. Because APIC is a tool for managing the entire data center at large, TCO can be drastically reduced, says Cisco.

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This is a large and multi-faceted product announcement, and this article discusses a few of the important areas. There are many other topics for each customer to evaluate against their own needs. Many customers will decide to remain with the Catalyst 6800 in a tree-based network, or opt for low-cost Layer 3 ECMP solutions using the Nexus 6000. Others will choose the Nexus 7000 to access FEX and FabricPath to deliver large Layer 2 Ethernet domains.

For customers who are considering SDN for their data centers, the Cisco ACI strategy will be arriving sometime in late 2014. That's just about enough time to get planning and budgeting -- if you hurry.

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Joe Onisick
Joe Onisick,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/13/2013 | 2:37:59 AM
re: Cisco ACI Solves All Your Data Center Network Problems
Greg, just as an FYI each paragraph here has a galring technical error, I would point them out but it would take a full blog to do so. It's best to do a little research/fact check or not write at all.
User Rank: Apprentice
11/8/2013 | 1:13:27 PM
re: Cisco ACI Solves All Your Data Center Network Problems
The authour seriously needs to review his understanding of ITIL because the description portrayed in this article was a complete nonsense, one can only assume he has spent far too much time at the lower levels of the stack to comprehend it.

While BPM and ITSM are complementary they're certainly not interchangeable terms, so to suggest that business processes are derived from ITIL is quite frankly absurd.

Even more ludicrous is the suggestion that somehow organisations who have adopted ITIL best practices wouldn't be able to take advantage of what Cisco are proposing when they clearly purport at being able to tie together both physical and virtual, management across the infrastructure stack, ensuring resource optimisation and improved visibility. Nowhere in the ITIL framework have I read that IT Service Management can't be made easy?

Coincidentally, if you are referring to the silos as they exist today ITIL was not responsible, that's very much down to the era of the Client-server approach.
User Rank: Apprentice
11/7/2013 | 8:52:56 PM
re: Cisco ACI Solves All Your Data Center Network Problems
Exactly how is all of this going to make networking simpler? Instead of waiting till 2014 for Cisco's ACI strategy, why not look at Shortest Path Bridging from Avaya. It is available now and does what SDN is trying to do. :-) Plus it is an industry standard with multi-vendor support.
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