Building on its vision of Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) in the data center, Cisco and industry leaders today continued the transformation of information technology (IT) with the adoption of a new open, standards-based protocol called OpFlex. Through OpFlex, Cisco ACI continues to deliver the standards-based building blocks for next-generation networks while accelerating innovation with multiple industry leaders. Cisco customers such as Sungard Availability Services, du, Acxiom and Telstra are rapidly adopting the new Nexus 9000 switching platform for their transition to 40Gigabit Ethernet speeds and embracing ACI as the new model for automating data center infrastructure to support critical business applications.
For example, Acxiom, an enterprise data, analytics and software-as-a-service company that uniquely fuses trust, experience and scale to fuel data-driven results, is adopting the new Nexus switches and ACI. “Every week, Acxiom powers millions of transactions on behalf of our global clients, and we need a powerful 40GbE data center with optimal performance and scalability,” said Chuck Crane, Network and Security Architect Acxiom. “Cisco is a trusted, knowledgeable partner, and with Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), we know we have an open, future-proof data center architecture that can continue to grow as we enhance client services. Cisco’s 9500 switching platform; Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) for centralized management; and the OpFlex southbound protocol, all combine to offer the most compelling high performance, scalable data center solution on the market today.”
ACI is the first data center and cloud solution to offer full visibility and integrated management of both physical and virtual networked IT resources, accelerating application deployment through a dynamic, application-aware network policy model. ACI’s policy-based approach will be extended to a growing vendor ecosystem, allowing customers to leverage application-aware policies across multiple hypervisors, physical switches, and network services to protect their existing data center investments.
Co-authored by Citrix, IBM, Microsoft, and Sungard Availability Services, OpFlex provides a unique mechanism that enables a network controller to transfer abstract policy to a set of “smart” devices capable of directly rendering rich network policy on the device. Through Cisco’s Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) and OpFlex, customers will be able to deploy and manage applications at scale, with full policy enforcement in multi-data center environment via policy federation.
As a long-standing participant in the open source community, Cisco is driving the growth of open source technologies, expanding the development of open standards, and investing resources to provide sustainable innovation. Along with its co-authors, Cisco plans to help standardize OpFlex through the IETF and provide open source implementations to accelerate support within the broader ecosystem, including such widely adopted open source-based solutions as OpenStack.
Customers understand that Cisco ACI and OpFlex solve pressing problems in their data centers today. To drive business agility and efficient use of resources, IT administrators must be able to deploy applications rapidly across a broad range of infrastructure while still delivering performance, scalability, security, and visibility across physical and virtual infrastructure.
Cisco has now opened its APIC application policy to a variety of infrastructure providers through the new OpFlex protocol, which will allow customers to simplify the automation and management of multi-vendor networks. OpFlex will enable leading hypervisors, switches and network services (layer 4-layer 7) to self-configure driven by application policy. Industry partners adopting the OpFlex technology include leading hypervisor and software vendors such as Canonical, Citrix, Microsoft, and Red Hat which will jointly support OpFlex-enabled virtual switches and extend the Cisco ACI policy framework in their virtual environments. Network services vendors like Avi Networks, Citrix, Embrane, and F5 Networks will be shipping an OpFlex agent with their appliances.
In addition, Cisco is working with OpenDaylight, the leading open source SDN controller in the industry to create a 100 percent open source, ACI-compatible policy model and OpFlex reference architecture. The OpenDaylight membership represents 60 percent of data center capital expenditures worldwide and includes a broad cross section of industry leaders and the policy project includes contributors from IBM, Midokura and Plexxi.
Du, an integrated telecommunications service provider in the United Arab Emirates, is consolidating several data facilities into two next generation data centers designed to host new cloud services using Cisco Nexus 9000 switches and ACI. “We are committed to building our infrastructure on open standards: the Cisco APIC southbound protocol, OpFlex, provides us an open, extensible framework to support any device in our data center — hypervisor switches, physical switches, network services and servers — allowing us to take advantage of our existing infrastructure investments,” said Saleem Al Balooshi, Executive Vice President – Network Development & Operations, du.
“Cisco OpFlex allows ACI to more tightly integrate with Open vSwitch, which makes it much easier for us to benefit from ACI and its policy model in our Openstack deployment,” said Teppei Takahashi, Senior Network Engineer, architecture development group Ameba Division, Cyber Agent Inc. “We are very excited about OpFlex, and looking forward to take this journey with Cisco and the community.” added. For more information on OpFlex, check out this whitepaper from Cisco.