Cisco Live Kicks Off With ACI and Collaboration Technology

Cisco makes a slew of new ACI and collaboration product announcements, responds to NSA surveillance allegations at Cisco Live.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted May 19, 2014
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Cisco Live is one of the biggest events of the year for Cisco's U.S. customers, and it always comes with a long list of announcements. This year is no exception.

As part of the first round of Cisco Live announcements, Cisco announced new data center products that aim to deliver on the company's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) vision. Cisco first announced ACI in June of 2013 as part of its Insieme effort. Insieme was folded into Cisco in November of 2013, with the Application Policy Controller (APIC) technology as an initiative. APIC is still not yet available, though at Cisco Live, the company is saying it will be available this summer. In preparation for APIC, Cisco is now providing a migration path for its traditional data center customers.

The ACI approach will be enabled for all Cisco Nexus customers by way of the Nexus 1000V virtual switch or by deploying a Nexus 9000 switch as a remote leaf. The Nexus 9000 was first announced in November of 2013 as part of the ACI launch strategy. Additionally, Nexus 7000 Series switches and ASR 9000 routers are being brought into the fold as potential Data Center Interconnect (DCI) gateway/router technology for an ACI fabric.

Cisco is also aiming to help enable its UCS server customers for ACI. The UCS Director server and network automation and provisioning technology will now support ACI, as well as the Nexus 9000 series switches.

ACI isn't just about new hardware and software support. It's also about services. To that end, Cisco announced new services, including the Data Center Strategy and Analysis Service for ACI, Data Center Assessment Service for ACI, Data Center Validation Service for ACI and Data Center Design Service for ACI.

Going a half step beyond just ACI, Cisco announced that it now supports the VXLAN protocol across all current Nexus switches. VXLAN is a standard that Cisco helped to develop, along with Citrix and VMware, as far back as 2011. With VXLAN, a Layer 2 network can be abstracted to work over a Layer 3 network.

Collaboration

In a bid to help boost its collaboration business, Cisco is also announcing new hardware offerings with the DX70 and DX80 desktop collaboration devices. The DX70 is an Android-based system with a 14-inch widescreen and integrated with Cisco WebEx and Jabber. The DX80 is the next size up, offering users a 23-inch screen for personal conferencing.

Though Cisco is eager to boost its collaboration business, there is one partner it doesn't want to be seen as being too eager to be with. A recent disclosure from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden alleged that the U.S. government intercepts Cisco gear before it reaches end-users and a beacon is put in for surveillance activities.

Cisco's general counsel Mark Chandler publicly responded to the accusation in a blog post.

"As a matter of policy and practice, Cisco does not work with any government, including the United States Government, to weaken our products," Chandler said.

Chandler added that the government should not be interfering with the lawful delivery of products from Cisco and other technology vendors.

"To do otherwise, and to violate legitimate privacy rights of individuals and institutions around the world, undermines confidence in our industry," Chandler said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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