Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cisco Unveils its Application Centric Infrastructure

Cisco unveiled its Application Centric Infrastructure for data centers and clouds.

In a press event in New York, John Chambers described ACI as the next big transformation of the IT industry driven by imperatives of the application economy.

ACI is a step beyond virtualization and software-defined networks (SDN), said Chambers, because it brings agility and automation with full visibility and integrated management of both physical and virtual networked IT resources at the system, tenant, and application levels.  The architecture promises a pay-as-you-grow mode scaling to over 100,000 switch ports and capable of supporting more than one million IP end points in a data center spine with 60 Tbps capacity.  A key premise is that the network should adapt to application requirements through dynamic insertion and chaining of physical and virtual L4-7 network services including firewalls, application delivery controllers, and intrusion detection systems.  The new architecture is designed for multi-tenant cloud environments by providing real-time view of per tenant and per application health, statistics, and troubleshooting.  Real-time analytics will be used to drive intelligent application placement decisions.

The foundation for ACI is an Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), enhanced versions of the NX-OS data center switching operating system, and a new line of Nexus 9000 data center switches based on technology from Insieme Networks, the Cisco spin-in start-up that is being acquired and re-integrated into the company.

The Cisco APIC is a centralized clustered controller that is responsible for tasks ranging from fabric activation, maintenance of switch firmware, network policy configuration and instantiation. Cisco APIC is
completely removed from the data path.  The APIC exposes a northbound API through XML and JSON and provides both a command-line interface (CLI) and GUI that use this API to manage the
fabric. It will be delivered as an appliance.

The new Nexus 9000 platforms will be able to run both optimized NX-OS and an ACI-mode of NX-OS via the addition of APIC.  Cisco said this dual capability provides investment protection and a migration path to ACI though a software upgrade.

The new switches will use custom ASICs for scalable and merchant silicon for addressing time to market issues.  Cisco said its platforms will support 1/10/40G ports with support for future 100G transitions in existing and next generation data centers.  Another innovation in the Nexus 9000 portfolio is a backplane-free modular switch design that promises more efficient power and cooling.  Both the Cisco Nexus 9500 and 9300 platforms support VXLAN and NVGRE bridging and routing functions in hardware.


Highlights of the new Nexus 9000 platforms

  • Cisco Nexus 9508 Switch: an 8 slot, compact 13 RU form factor chassis designed for high density End-of-Row (EoR) and high performance 10/40GbE aggregation layer deployments.
  • Cisco Nexus 9300 Switches: fixed switches designed for top-of-rack and middle-of-row deployments.
  • Cisco Nexus 9396PX Switch - a 960G switch with 48 fixed 10GE  SFP+ ports and 12 40-Gbps QSFP+ ports
  • Cisco Nexus 93128TX - a 1.28T switch with 96 fixed 1/10GBASE-T ports and 8 40-Gbps QSFP+ ports

In the first half of 2014 Cisco expects to extend the Nexus 9000 switch family to include a four-slot and 16-slot system and additional top of rack switches.

Cisco acknowledged that the ecosystem will play a key role for ACI.  The company said it will offer an open sourced, southbound RESTful API.  It will also support Puppet, Chef, CFEngine, Python scripting, and other programming tools.  Partners include BMC, CA Technologies, Citrix, EMC, Embrane, Emulex, F5, IBM, Microsoft, NetApp, OpsCode, Panduit, Puppet Labs, NIKSUN, Red Hat, SAP, Splunk, Symantec, VCE, and VMware.

http://www.cisco.com

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