The next phase of the data center: Application Centric Infrastructure

Datacenter planners and visionaries are marching forward again with the next phase of data center evolution: Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). Since applications are the lifeblood of the modern enterprise – besides its people – it makes sense to shape the data center around optimizing application delivery.  Cisco said at the launch of ACI — a data centric fabric comprised of software, a new Cisco controller, and a next-generation line of Nexus switches — that ACI is a more scalable and easily managed alternative to the bulk of SDN technologies on the market today. Two of the cornerstone vendors of the modern data center,  Cisco and EMC are now working together closely to shape this vision of ACI. Cisco is now launching the ACI in conjunction with the Nexus 9000 data center switch family to make this a reality.

ACI couples innovations in software, hardware, systems and ASICS with an application-aware network policy model built around open APIs that reduce application deployment from months to minutes. Cisco calls ACI the first data center and cloud solution to offer full visibility and integrated management of both physical and virtual networked IT resources — all built around the needs of applications. We’ve seen several milestones over the last decade from physical to virtualized data centers, which most enterprise Information Technology data centers have already achieved. The move from virtualized data center to cloud data center is still an ongoing process today. The virtualized enterprise serves as a solid foundation for cloud computing, but more is required – cloud orchestration layers such as OpenStack provide the ability for on-demand provisioning of entire virtual data centers (VDC), including compute, networking and storage services, along with shared resources for security (e.g., firewalls and security policies), and common elements such as load balancers. This enables many advantages over the consolidation gains reaped by virtualization: self-service, agility, on-demand deployment and usage based costing. These are tremendous advantages that no CIO will want to be without, especially as their competitors move forward to gain these efficiencies.

But what about the application layer – how does it fit into this overall cloud vision and how is it automated? Enterprise applications are complex entities that can consist of multiple servers and applications that require a complex sequence of tasks for installation, configuration and management. With ACI, EMC and Cisco are innovating in next generation data center and application automation capabilities including the integration of software-defined storage (SDS) layers such as EMC ViPR, to bring end-to-end automation of the data center to reality.

Take a look at the details of ACI and invite us to discuss how IMPEX can enable your data center for optimized application automation.