These problems are, of course, not new, but they are being driven to the forefront of every CTO/CIO’s mind by the industry as a whole. The last several years has seen the advent of ‘cloud computing’ in mainstream IT, and the ‘marketechture’ (who needs real words when you can make up cool ones) miracle that is SDN. I see these ‘things’ as merely an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, paradigm shift to the industry that some would have you believe. However, these phenomena have captured the collective mind of almost everyone involved in IT in any capacity, as well as many outside of IT, it seems. This form of mind control (‘these are not the droids you’re looking for’) that has captured the attention of so many, is unequivocally more important than the technologies themselves, as it has brought about a new focus and new drive into networking. These new and evolving customer requirements popping up are a product of this new fascination and the realization that we can build a better network, one that more closely maps to adapt to the business needs.
How do we, as engineers, support this next generation network? How do we design it and build it? Clearly there is no simple answer, and no one single tool can do this for us. To build this ‘business-centric’ network, engineers will need to leverage every tool available to them in new and creative ways. Cisco’s ACI is perhaps the tool to begin this journey with for many companies. ACI seems to have taken a sound, holistic approach to tackling the challenges ahead of us — identifying that applications are really the most important piece of the network, and providing flexibility and configurability to make impactful network decisions that can benefit a business.
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