Cisco's new data-center anywhere vision includes a slew of new products.

Lynn Haber

January 29, 2019

5 Min Read
Data Center

CISCO LIVE EMEA — Businesses can no longer say that what happens in the data center stays in the data center. The boundaries continue to morph.

That’s why Cisco announced on Tuesday what it calls “data center anywhere” – a suite of new products across networking, hyperconvergence, security and automation. The announcement was made at Cisco Live EMEA in Barcelona.

The new offerings are ACI Anywhere, HyperFlex Anywhere and CloudCenter Suite. Cisco also announced a single enterprise agreement for buying and managing technology across the data-center architecture.

“There’s nothing centered about data anymore,” Daniel McGinniss, senior director, data center marketing for Cisco’s ACI product line, told Channel Futures.

As an example of how the data center has lost its “center,” he points to the pieces that come into play in the expanded modern “data center” — on-premises enterprise data center, private cloud, public cloud, colocation, enterprise edge, 5G telecom edge and IoT.


Cisco’s Daniel McGinniss

“At Cisco, we’re not trying to solve this problem, per se, but to make it easier for our customers to solve,” McGinniss said. “We believe that if the data can go anywhere, we can service customers in a way we haven’t been able to, up until this point.”

Cisco is doing this with its three new offers. ACI Anywhere is the expansion of ACI into the public cloud with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure environments; HyperFlex Anywhere, or HyperFlex 4.0, extends into branch offices and remote locations to power applications to the edge; and CloudCenter enhancement are designed to help customers manage the life cycle of applications across multiple cloud environments.

Together, Tuesday’s announcements are designed to addressed three key drivers impacting the data center: applications are evolving; workloads continue to be more distributed; and developers are driving an increased demand for multicloud.

Until now, Cisco has addressed the core data center, delivering cloud-like experiences for applications and data that must stay local, or on premises, and it’s addressed the edge and remote locations by extending the data center to the slew of new sources of demand.

The third data center domain has to do with multicloud.

“We’ve always had connectivity between AWS and Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), so we’ve allowed that connectivity back and forth, but we haven’t truly as an industry realized the consistency of that environment — how do we manage it and integrate it like it’s a single homogeneous entity with application policies, automation [and so on],” said McGinniss.

That’s where ACI Anywhere, or ACI Cloud, comes in, extending the data-center capability into the public cloud. (Cisco previously announced its intentions with GCP, but Tuesday’s announcement only covers AWS and Microsoft Azure.)

Cisco also announced two new integrations: AppDynamics, for application performance monitoring, or for correlating application performance data with network data; and DNA Center and ISE Controller to increase uniformity and security across the data center and campus, for identity access management from users and applications.

“From a partner perspective, it opens up new doors for conversations with customers who have yet to venture into …

… ACI in the data center space and vice versa,” said McGinniss. “It allows partners to offer a more integrated end-to-end solution.”

HyperFlex Anywhere is Cisco’s HyperFlex 4.0 for hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) at the edge. HyperFlex with Cisco Intersight extends HCI from the core, across clouds and to the edge.


Cisco’s Todd Brannon

“The edge is the next frontier for hyperconverged infrastructure,” Todd Brannon, senior director, data center marketing for Cisco’s Unified Computing System and HyperFlex product lines, told us. “This pivots off our core differentiator, which is cloud-based systems management.”

The latest HyperFlex release adds performance improvements in areas like drive technologies by using Intel Optane caching and all NVMe capacity drives. Cisco also added a new workload processor called the HyperFlex Acceleration Engine, a field-programable gate array (FPGA) that gives customers the ability to offload processing from general purpose x86 processors to custom silicon that’s designed to do a specific job, freeing up cycles for actual application workloads.

“For partners, it helps them lower their costs in terms of how they serve customers where they’re brought in to help customers turn up new sites, or maintain sites, across a broad geography, as you see in retail, for example,” said Brannon. “Partners don’t have to dispatch their high value, highly technical talent out to all the various locations, which is very time consuming and expensive.”

Cisco CloudCenter Suite, software to deploy applications to the cloud and optimize costs, is now available as a SaaS option, and also offers feature-based pricing. CloudCenter Suite has also been refactored to a container environment.

The new capability enables real-time dynamic analytics on how applications are behaving in the cloud, as well as cloud consumption. CloudCenter Suit includes a cost optimizer and action orchestrator.

In Cisco’s data-center portfolio, the vendor now offers a single standardized three- or five-year enterprise licensing agreement across seven suites, including ACI, HyperFlex, Intersight and Tetration.


Cisco’s Nirav Sheth

Other customer benefits include: choice in deployment models and license portability; risk-free adoption with annual true forward; and delivery through Cisco’s channel partners.

“Whether it’s the enterprise agreement or the technology innovations, we’re looking at the opportunity for our partners in a few ways,” said Nirav Sheth, vice president, worldwide sales and systems engineering with the Cisco Partner Organization.

The partner opportunity includes reaching new buying centers, the ability to accelerate the refresh cycle, drive software adoption and grow profits.

Virtual ACI and Cloud ACI will be available in the second quarter, as will HyperFlex 4.0 with Cisco Insight. Cisco CloudCenter Suite subscription on-premises will be available sometime this quarter; the SaaS version is planned for availability this quarter in North America, and next quarter in Europe. You’ll be able to order new Cisco enterprise agreements in mid-March.

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About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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