Cisco Unified Network Services Launched, Expanding Data Center Portfolio

By Chris Talbot

Looking to take its data center vision one step further, Cisco is developing a new data center architecture called the Cisco Data Center Business Advantage. The architecture will feature three pillars of technology, including Cisco Unified Computing, Cisco Unified Fabric and a new portfolio called Cisco Unified Network Services. The three technology areas will form the foundation of Data Center Business Advantage, the company said.

The change is an evolution of the Cisco data center framework, according to Shashi Kiran, solutions marketing manager for data center/virtualization at Cisco Systems. Cisco Data Center Business Advantage is intended to improve the agility and efficiency of traditional and virtualized data center environments.

"The idea here is that all of the data center has been changing to more of a strategic asset," Kiran said. There's an increasing need for tying data center investments into business relevance, and this updated Cisco data center framework is intended to help IT innovations deliver on business value, he said.

The new overall element being introduced is Cisco Unified Network Services, which is meant to provide rich services in physical and virtual form factors while also offering flexibility in building consistent, policy-based provisioning, operational simplicity and workload portability across the network, compute and cloud environments.

"What it is, is a simple distillation of a vision we have to deliver any service in any form factor on any platform," Kiran said. This includes application networking, policies and security all available for physical, virtual and cloud infrastructures. The goal is to provide consistent policies across all the environments.

Under Cisco Unified Network Services, the networking vendor is introducing new products, including the Cisco Virtual Security Gateway (VSG) and Cisco virtual Wide Area Application Services (vWAAS).


VSG is a virtual appliance that provides security policies on virtual machines and across VLANs and shared compute infrastructures in the data center. According to Cisco, it helps businesses meet the security and compliance requirements in virtualized data center and multitenant cloud environments. It will be available in the fourth quarter of 2010 as software for the Nexus 1000V.

The Cisco vWAAS is also a virtual appliance. It runs on VMware ESX/ESXi hypervisor and the Cisco Unified Computing System, as well as other x86-based servers. As a cloud-ready optimization product, vWAAS was designed to accelerate application delivery from private and virtual cloud infrastructures while ensuring an optimal user experience.

Also as part of the announcement, Cisco announced new platforms under its Unified Computing and Unified Fabric portfolios. The new Nexus 5548 Switch is a one-rack, 48-port unit that includes double port density.

"It really takes convergence to the next level, and for the customer it really gives them a lot of flexibility to dynamically configure these ports based on their needs," Kiran said. The ports can be configured for use as Ethernet or Fibre Channel, depending on the business' needs, which Kiran said is a key differentiator for Cisco channel partners.

Cisco is also launching the Unified Computing System B230 M1 Blade Server, which is an Intel Xeon 6500/7500 processor-based system in a half-width blade server. According to Cisco, the new blade is ideal for transaction-intensive database workloads, server virtualization and desktop virtualization.

Cisco is also launching new professional and technical services designed to help customers take advantage of the new Data Center Business Advantage framework.

"We're actually bringing in a significant amount of our services offerings across our portfolio for each of these architectural pillars," Kiran said.

More than 200 Cisco channel partners already have the certifications and specializations needed to bring the Data Center Business Advantage framework to customers.

"When we look at the channel perspective, our overall channel strategy is that we're trying to develop what we call unified data center practices within our partner community," said John Growdon, director of technology for go-to-market for routing, switching and data center in Cisco's worldwide partner organization.

The value partners bring to customers is in being able to understand and integrate all of the parts of the new framework, he said.

"Effectively, these are just enhancements to the productivity portfolio that support our unified practices," Growdon said.

This article was originally published on 2010-09-14