Service Provider Cloud

Cisco Promotes 'Data Center Anywhere' Concept

Cisco is extending data center-class networking and compute to the cloud, edge and Internet of Things -- a strategy it's calling "data center anywhere."

As part of that strategy, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has introduced support for its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) virtualized networking in Amazon Web Services Inc. and Microsoft Azure clouds. It also launched new HyperFlex hyperconverged compute and storage options for remote locations and unveiled a new release of CloudCenter software with added support for managing cloud costs.

Additionally, Cisco revealed new Internet of Things products and services for the edge -- expanding intent-based networking "from the carpeted to the non-carpeted world," Cisco says. [Ed note: What about the world of rugs?]

"There is nothing centralized about data anymore," Dan McGinnis, Cisco lead data center product marketing for networking, tells Light Reading. Centralized data centers are still important, but public and private clouds are becoming equally as important. And Internet of Things and mobile devices are driving the need for networking and compute to the edge -- this is particularly an issue for telcos.

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ACI is a long-standing, on-premises Cisco technology for software-defined networking: Now Cisco has extended that software into AWS and Azure, allowing network managers to use ACI tools to manage virtualized networks on those public clouds. Support for Google Cloud is in development: Cisco previously supported bare metal cloud networking, McGinnis said.

The vendor added support for ACI to its AppDynamics application performance management (APM) service last week. (See AppDynamics Promises a Twist on AI-Enabled Application Management.)

Cisco is introducing HyperFlex hyperconverged devices for remote locations, allowing organizations to pool storage and compute onto a single network. Previously, organizations had separate compute networks and storage area networks (SANs), now everything shares a single network.

The availability of new HyperFlex for Branch systems simplifies the administration of remote locations, like retail outlets. "You just ship the systems out there, have someone rack it, connect it and do everything else remotely," Tod Brannon, Cisco director of product marketing for compute, tells Light Reading.

The technology is useful for telcos looking to simplify administration of remote points of presence, particularly with the emergence of 5G.

Cisco's CloudCenter cloud management software is refactored for containers, to make it easier for organizations to deploy the software. CloudCenter now provides real-time cost optimization to help organizations optimize cloud workloads between multiple cloud providers on the fly.

The vendor is streamlining its data center software enterprise agreements for standardized three- and five-year terms. Organizations can add new software to the package -- for example, Cisco's Tetration analytics -- and then pay for what they use when the next license payment is due. That's designed to make it easy for organizations to try new software services from Cisco, Brannon says.

For telcos and other network service providers, Cisco is looking to make it easier to support edge applications that will become more prevalent as the Internet of Things (IoT) expands and as 5G architectures (including distributed cloud capabilities) are deployed. Telcos such as AT&T have the resources to build their own technology for the edge, but smaller telcos need Cisco's help, McGinnis says (or hopes).

Cisco's move beyond the data center competes with a similar initiative by VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW), which announced its software networking strategy unifying the data center, branch offices and the cloud, in the spring. (See VMware Takes On Cisco & Juniper With Network Vision and How VMware Plans to Put the Screws on Cisco.)

And Arista Networks Inc. announced plans to extend its data center networking to the campus in the summer with its acquisition (for an undisclosed sum) of Mojo Networks, a move that added 250 employees to Arista's headcount. (See Arista Challenges Cisco on Campus Networks and Arista Finds Its Campus Mojo.)

Additionally, Cisco is boosting its IoT connectivity, launching reference designs, two new switches and a router, developer training in its DevNet program, and partner training. With the new IoT developments, Cisco is incorporating its "intent-based" automated networking to IoT architectures. (See Cisco Declares a New Era of Intent-Based Networking, Cisco Shows Open Networking Intent and Cisco Brings Intent-Based Networking to IoT.)

The reference designs include an industrial automation blueprint, comprising components from Cisco, Rockwell Automation, Eaton, Siemens and more; distributed automation for utility grids; and remote and mobile assets for fleet management.

The new hardware devices, in the company's Catalyst line, include ruggedized, automated hardware with a modular design that can easily be upgraded to support 5G and beyond, Vikas Butaney Cisco VP product management, IoT, tells Light Reading. In IT, products turn over every two to five years, but in factories and other industrial Internet locations where IoT is emerging, turnover is more like seven to ten years, meaning products need to be upgradable in place.

For carriers, the Cisco initiative presents a couple of opportunities: IoT installations often use cellular connections between tens of thousands of devices connected through routers, while other devices, such as smart meters on homes or connected cars, have direct connections to cellular networks.

— Mitch Wagner Visit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on TwitterJoin my Facebook GroupRead my blog: Things Mitch Wagner Saw Executive Editor, Light Reading

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