VMware – NSX and Cisco ACI

There is not really much I can add to the debate on NSX vs ACI except to share my opinion on a few things.

Let’s look at the world as it is today.  It is a virtual world.  At least 80% of workloads in most datacenters today are virtualized. So that leaves roughly 20% of workloads as physical.  How often do physical workloads move to different servers, racks, datacenters etc?  Not very often right?  You rack them, you cable them, you plug them in, you configure the port(s) and that is basically where it lives for the rest of it days.  Any rules or policies you need for those machines get created and that’s it.

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VMware NSX – What is with the Cisco or NSX debate?

Why is there a perception that you can use Cisco or NSX?  If you perform a simple google search you will find many articles that aim to answer the question of Cisco vs. NSX?  This is like saying HP or vSPhere?  It doesn’t make any sense.  Cisco and NSX can co-exist in a datacenter it’s not a one or the other proposition.  Let’s face it Cisco owns the network layer in most datacenters and they should, they make damn good networking hardware.  But that’s just it.  They make hardware much like HP, Dell, and IBM make hardware.  It has limitations.

Don’t get me wrong hardware is a necessary evil for obvious reasons for all types of  virtualization whether it be computer, networking, or storage.  I just don’t understand the big debate regarding Cisco vs. NSX.  It’s really very simple.  Keep your existing Cisco hardware and get more out of it with NSX.  I hear many making an argument that network virtualization is not needed because you cannot consolidate multiple switches or routers into one.  This baffles me as well.  If you support this argument or feel it is valid you don’t understand the value of Network virtualization

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Stevie’s Unified Event Management, My Cloud Shangri-La

If you know Steve Chambers you know he just moved to Cisco. Before that, he was with VMware and has been a pillar of the VI:OPS boards. He is now working on a document about Unified Event Management and in the spirit of community, he is looking for comments, suggestion, etc. He called my attention to the post via Twitter as we were discussing Splunk and it’s capabilities for “Centralized Event Aggregation” (Steve’s terms). Take a look at his post when you get a chance and make some comments. You know that I have heralded the benefits of a centralized logging server. Steve just plain gets it.

And since I mentioned Cisco, I also discovered that Cisco put out a whitepaper on their take regarding the Virtualization Blueprint for the Datacenter. Its their take on how virtualization will benefit your business.  The chart shows how a business’ agility will increase as we climb the lifecycle from consolidation to virtualization and then on to automation.

It doesn’t matter what you are using underneath of it all – VMware, Xen, Hyper-V – UCS, Matrix. It just matters that you have methods to provide centralized monitoring and centralized automation. Although centralized event monitoring and centralized automation are two different things, they are both necessary if you wish to properly monitor and manage your piece of the cloud. I’ve already said my piece on the need for centralized event monitoring and Steve lays out a sample blueprint.

Automation is the new big thing when it comes to the cloud. VMware saw that way back when and they bought Dunes almost two years ago. VMware Orchestrator (VMO) was a big buzz for a little while, but great big VMware couldn’t couldn’t pull off what teenie little Dunes could when it comes to customizing the Orchestrator. They left it in a fairly decent state for smaller businesses with VMware Lifecycle Manager, but it was a hobbled state and didn’t scale very well. You can customize VMO, but you need to be good at the Dunes interface and have a decent knowledge of JavaScripting and that kind of stuff. Even being free, its not for me. The standard release of VMO allows you to set up a facility to request, approve, provision and archive VMs. A great start, but not quite enough.

A quick search for data center orchestration reveals Cisco at the top of the list. But there are others from Novell PlateSpin, Egenera, and DynamicOps that appear to do more. What we REALLY need is a way to orchestrate/ automate the entire data center. Physical servers, VMs, storage and networking can all be provisioned, monitored and managed. Can they all be managed from a common platform? Once you can have a seamless process for provisioning, managing and monitoring every component of the data center, you will see cloud computing really take off. A user (consumer / customer) that needs an application should not care if it is deployed on a physical or virtual machine, what storage devices hold the data or the network that connects it. The user should know the basic requirements for the application and the ORCHESTRATOR should make the decisions about all of these things. The orchestrator will take a request, ask for approval and make sure the application gets deployed without making mistakes. The orchestrator will interface with the monitoring facility and change management to make sure the application is accounted-for. The orchestrator will hand off to the backup facility. The orchestrator will notify you when the application as reached end of life. That’s when we will have “Cloud Shangri-La” (My term).