Home > Cisco, Networking, Virtualization > Cisco Responds to My Data Center Virtualization Post…

Cisco Responds to My Data Center Virtualization Post…

"…I will squash him like a liiiiittle bug, that Hoff!"

OK, well they weren’t responding directly to my post from last night, but as they say in the big show, "timing is everything."

My last blog entry detailed some navel gazing regarding some interesting long term strategic moves by Cisco to further embrace the virtualized data center and the impact this would have on the current and future product roadmaps.  I found it very telling that Chambers will be keynoting at this year’s VMWorld and what this means for the future.

Not 8 hours after my posting (completely coincidental I’m sure šŸ˜‰ the PR machine spit out the following set of announcements from Networkers Cisco Live titled "Cisco Unveils Plans to Transform the Data Center."    You can find more detailed information from Cisco’s web here.

This announcement focused on outlining some of the near-term (2 year) proofpoints and touts the introduction of "…New Data Center Products, Services and Programs to Support a Holistic View of the Data Center." 

There’s an enormous amount of data to digest in this announcement, but the interesting bits for me to focus on are the two elements pertaining to security virtualization as well as service composition, provisioning and intelligent virtualized service delivery.   This sort of language is near and dear to my heart.

I’m only highlighting a small subsection of the release as there is a ton of storage, data mobility, multiservice fabric and WAAS stuff in there too.  This is all very important stuff, but I wanted to pay attention to the VFrame Data Center orchestration platform and the ACE XML security gateway functions since they pertain to what I have been writing about recently:

If you can choke back the bile from the  "Data Center v3.0" moniker:

…Cisco announced at a press conference today its
vision for
next-generation data centers, called Data Center 3.0. The
Cisco vision for
Data Center 3.0 entails the real-time, dynamic orchestration
infrastructure services from shared pools of virtualized
server, storage
and network resources, while optimizing application performance,
levels, efficiency and collaboration.

Over the next 24 months, Cisco will deliver innovative new
programs, and capabilities to help customers realize the
Cisco Data Center
3.0 vision. New products and programs announced today support
that vision,
representing the first steps in helping customers to create
data centers.

Cisco VFrame Data Center

VFrame Data Center (VFrame DC) is an orchestration platform
that leverages
network intelligence to provision resources together as
services. This industry-first approach greatly reduces application
deployment times, improves overall resource utilization,
and offers greater
business agility. Further, VFrame DC includes an open API,
and easily
integrates with third party management applications, as
well as
best-of-breed server and storage virtualization offerings.

With VFrame DC, customers can now link their compute, networking
storage infrastructures together as a set of virtualized
services. This
services approach provides a simple yet powerful way to
quickly view all
the services configured at the application level to improve
and change management. VFrame DC offers a policy engine
for automating
resource changes in response to infrastructure outages and
changes. Additionally, these changes can be controlled by
monitoring systems via integration with the VFrame DC web
application programming interface (API).

I think that from my view of the world, these two elements represent a step in the right direction for Cisco.  Gasp!  Yes, I said it.  While Chambers prides himself on hyping Cisco’s sensitivity to "market transitions" it’s clear that Cisco gets that virtualization across both the network, host and storage is actually a real market.  They’re still working the security piecem however they, like Microsoft, mean business when they enter a space and it’s no doubt they’re swinging to fences with VFrame. 

I think the VFrame API is critical and how robust it is will determine the success of VFrame.  It’s interesting that VFrame is productized as an appliance, but I think I get what Chambers is going to be talking about at VMWorld — how VFrame will interoperate/interact with VMWare provisioning and management toolsets. 

Interestingly, the UI and template functionality looks a hell of a lot like some others I’ve blogged about and is meant to provide an umbrella management "layer" that allows for discovery, design, provisioning, deployment and automation of services and virtualized components across resource pools of servers, network components, security and storage:

Cisco VFrame Data Center components include:

  • Cisco VFrame Data Center Appliance: Central controller that connects to Ethernet and Fibre Channel networks
  • Cisco VFrame Data Center GUI: Java-based client that accesses application running on VFrame Data Center Appliance
  • Cisco VFrame Web Services Interface and Software Development Kit:
    Programmable interface that allows scripting of actions for Cisco
    VFrame Data Center
  • Cisco VFrame Host Agent: Host agent that provides server heartbeat,
    capacity utilization metrics, shutdown, and other capabilities
  • Cisco VFrame Data Center Macros: Open interface that allows administrators to create custom provisioning actions

That’s ambitious to say the least.

It’s still a raucous debate with me regarding where a lot of this stuff belongs (in the network or as a service layer) and I maintain the latter.  Innovation driven by companies such as 3Tera demonstrate that the best ideas are always copied by the 800 pound gorillas once they become mainstream.

Enhanced Cisco ACE XML Gateway Software

The new Cisco Application Control Engine (ACE) Extensible
Markup Language
(XML) Gateway software delivers enhanced capabilities for
enabling secure
Web services, providing customers with better management,
visibility, and
performance of their XML applications and Web 2.0 services.
The new
software includes a wide variety of new capabilities and
features plus
enhanced performance monitoring and reporting, providing
operations and capacity planning for Web services secured
by the Cisco ACE
XML Gateway.

I’d say this is a long overdue component for Cisco; since Chambers has been doing nothing but squawking about Web2.0, collaboration, etc., the need to integrate XML security into the security portfolio is a must, especially as we see XML as the Internet-based messaging bus for just about everything these days.

All in all I’d say Cisco is doing a good job of continuing to push the message along and while one shouldn’t see this faint praise as me softening my stance on Cisco’s execution potential, it’s yet to be seen if trying to be everything to everyone will deliver levels of service commensurate with what customers need.

Only time will tell.



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  1. July 25th, 2007 at 06:48 | #1

    Is Storage Really That Different?

    Ciscos new product announcements this week got me thinking about our little storage pond.  Sure, VFrame isnt breaking any new ground compared to Scalent, HPs Opsware, and BladeLogic, but itll be a revelation to Cisco…

  2. July 25th, 2007 at 21:53 | #2

    I agree, Cisco did a good job with this one. Virtualization in the data center is changing and with Cisco on board it can only help.

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