Networking Field Day – Afterwards – Cisco ACI
I first need to give a shout out to @_vCarly and her amazing skills at the white board, I only wish my white boarding design were half clean as that! If @_vCarly were to a host a white boarding session at CLUS this year I would most likely attend!
I suppose we should discuss the actual presentation now! Like probably many of you I have heard an awful lot about Cisco SDN and Controllers (Cisco ACI) however until now it has all been theory and hear-say. I can finally say I’ve seen the GUI and got to hear a deep dive of how this new architecture is supposed to work. Now, that I have seen it I am believer there is a lot of potential here and allow us to re-think the way we consider designing Data Center networks and here is why I think that:
- Building around the application, with this new design model we are almost forcing the application designer & server administrations to tell how their servers/applications work and communicate on the network. I have a spent a lot of time with AppDev’s going over what their application does and what else the App communicates in order to troubleshoot an issue. This approach removes much of the hassle without ever seeing the hassle. Future engineers might not know ‘the struggle’ of discovering an application via packet analysis and bridge calls.
- Deployment Orchestration – by specifically calling out the application and the service chaining from the get go, deploying a new application is much more streamlined and simplified in the long run when internal process are stream-lined. Eliminating the time-consuming need to:
- Login to multiple networking devices to configure SVI’s & Trunks
- Login to multiple firewalls creating the appropriate rules.
- Login to Load balancers and creating devices pools, health monitoring, virtual servers, and so forth.
- Troubleshooting and flow monitoring – Out of the box this box will be watching flow statistics. So tracking traffic statistics can easily pin-point packet loss and drops. Which may mean bad news some of the simpler NMS solutions out there unless they start looking beyond the typical Up/Down & Interface utilization mantra.
- Something that was brought up on Twitter post-event was the support for SNMP, which is a great question since SNMP was never mentioned (in any of the SDN-related presentations for that matter).
Now, with all that said and the fact Cisco ACI builds a Data Center around EPG’s (End Point Groups) I really look forward to this new design architecture. It’s probably going to be a bit more tedious up front since some applications will need to be called out specifically instead of going “O, that is a web server. Place it on this VLAN” but in the long run this will streamline many different parts of data center operations.
Links to the Networking Field Day 9 presentations below: