Thursday, 29 October 2020

Transforming Data Center Operations with Nexus Dashboard

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Transformation is definitely top of mind in many IT, business, and personal conversations I have these days with customers and partners. We used to focus primarily on the need for more agile and flexible infrastructure driven by the ongoing refactoring of their applications and how Cisco can help to deliver the desired business outcomes. The increasingly distributed nature of the applications used by enterprises requires tools that transform how IT operates. IT organizations are measured by the speed, simplicity, and security they can provide to support their organizations’ business objectives.

The speed of digital transformation is often a key competitive differentiator for our customers. A crucial part of the IT transformation is the leverage of cloud and edge data center locations as well as the use of service-centric cloud operations models. Now our daily work habits are transformed further by global events beyond our control, dispersing us to work, bank, shop, learn almost anywhere, at any time. The ability to adapt to these transformations while maintaining business resiliency and agility depends on a connective fabric—the network. 

Managing the network that connects on-premise, cloud, and edge applications to the workforce is a multi-disciplinary effort among NetOps, SecOps, CloudOps, and DevOps teams. These teams control multiple facets of the IT infrastructure: the tools that manage where workloads are run, the service level objectives (SLO) defining user experience, and implementation of zero trust security to protect vital business assets. 

Enabling these teams to deliver the best experience is the goal of an agile automation platform powered by real-time insights. An automation platform enables cloud and data center network operations to adapt to the new normal of shifting workloads and distributed workforces. With both workforce, application developers, and operations teams increasingly working remotely, separated by time and distance, it’s critical they have the tools to align and collaborate more efficiently than ever before. 

Cisco provides a data center network automation platform that is fabric agnostic and delivers a consistent, simplified experience to Ops tams. Enterprises can accelerate their IT transformation whether they focus purely on network automation or implementing more comprehensive IT automation that leverages an Infrastructure as Code (IaC) operating methodology.

An Agile Automation Platform for Data Center and Cloud Operations

The Cisco Nexus Dashboard brings together real-time insights and automation services to operate multi-cloud data center networks spanning on-premise, virtual edge, and cloud sites. It provides a unified view into proactive operations with continuous assurance and actionable insights across data center fabrics for seamless management. The Nexus Dashboard incorporates Nexus Insights, Network Assurance, and Multi-Site Orchestrator, as well as seamless access to network controllers and third-party tools and cloud-based services. 

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Cisco Multi-Site Orchestrator (MSO) provides consistent connectivity and security policies across multiple data center network sites such as ACI, DCNM, and cloud fabrics. MSO also enables end-to-end automation across data center, SD-WAN, and enterprise branch and campus networks. Integration with Cisco SD-WAN optimizes path selection for traffic among data centers and branches to deliver on application SLOs. Integration with Cisco DNA Center delivers consistent identity-based security policies across the workforce and applications.

Cisco Nexus Insights brings together in a single service the current Cisco Network Insight and Cisco Network Assurance Engine capabilities. It delivers real-time insights, assurance, and compliance needed to deliver the SLOs required by IT and the business. Nexus Insights applies baselining, predictive analytics, and machine learning techniques to move from reactive to a proactive operations model. Nexus Insights can easily integrate with other services leveraging standard and open APIs. Existing integrations with Cisco AppDynamics, Cisco Intersight, Hashicorp Consul, and Cisco TAC provide rich visibility across operations teams.

Delivered with Nexus Dashboard, these services provide Ops teams with a commanding view of the entire network fabric and tools to take immediate and proactive actions to maintain business resiliency. Nexus Dashboard also offers the ability to define multiple personas that enable IT to provide role-based access to specific operations teams.

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Bridging the Gap from NetOps to DevOps


Looking ahead, the Cisco Nexus Dashboard becomes a collaborative focal point where operations-critical third-party services and tools can be consumed via a single-pane of glass interface. IT can custom build automation workflows employing Cisco and third-party services to support their IT transformation processes.

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For example, through the Nexus Dashboard:

◉ NetOps teams can integrate directly with ServiceNow to generate tickets for centralized incident management.

◉ DevOps teams can map application, network and compute context by linking Nexus Insights with Cisco AppDynamics and Cisco Intersight, providing rich contextual information that enables DevOps to monitor application performance, identify network bottlenecks affecting applications, and fine-tune workloads accordingly.

◉ DevOps can leverage an Infrastructure as Code approach to link Ansible or Terraform services with the MSO API.

Multiple Deployment Options for Maximum Flexibility


Just as changes in the workplace and workforce are transforming the way IT works, the Nexus Dashboard will be available in various form factors to match the IT transformation organizations are going through. Flexible deployment options for Cisco Dashboard include:

◉ As an on-premise appliance.
◉ As a virtual appliance to deploy on existing compute or hyperconverged infrastructure (Q1CY21).
◉ As a cloud-based application for remote deployment and management (Q1CY21).

Reduce Complexity, Accelerate IT Transformation


Complexity is the enemy of efficiency. To manage distributed networks, you need tools that are easy to deploy, simple to access, and sharable among operations teams. With Cisco Nexus Dashboard you get a scalable, easy-to-use console that brings together Cisco operational services with commonly used third-party services and tools. Operations teams can work together to assure that the entire network is performing as intended. They can leverage automation coupled with real-time analytics to deliver the agility IT and the business needs for success. The nexus of the network makes it simple.

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