Cisco today unveiled a new application management framework driven by RESTful APIs that is tied to an open source controller that will give developers complete control over any piece of physical or virtual resource on the network.
The Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) is based on data center infrastructure management (DCIM) technology that Cisco gained via its controlling interest in Insieme Networks. According to Frank D’Agostino, senior director of technical marketing and solutions engineering at Insieme Networks, the controller will fundamentally change the relationship between developers and underlying IT infrastructure by eliminating the need for developers to be dependent on manual intervention of various IT infrastructure administrators to provision resources.
D’Agostino says APIC is an application-centric approach to managing IT infrastructure that is fundamentally different approach to provisioning and allocating resources because it leverages APIs to create a level of abstraction for managing the IT environment that is not dependent on virtual machines. As such, it can be applied equally well to both virtual and physical resources without incurring any virtual machine tax in the form of either unnecessary processing overhead or licensing fees.
APIC is designed to sharply reduce the amount of time it takes to deploy an application, which D’Agostino says is critical in an era where “speed is the currency of the application economy.” By centralizing policy management relating to everything from the quality of service desired to the amount of security that needs to be applied, D’Agostino says APIC allows organizations to deploy complex applications in a matter of minutes versus waiting days for each IT administrator to manually provision a specific resource.
To help make APIC a reality by the second quarter of 2014 Cisco plans to have deployed a new generation of switches based on commodity merchant silicon and custom ASICs. In the meantime, Cisco is making the core controller technology available as open source software that any provider of IT infrastructure equipment or virtual machine software can choose to add support for within their own offerings.
As IT environments as a whole get more automated, the relationship between developers and IT operations teams is about to fundamentally change for the better. Rather than being dependent on the mercies of administrators for resources, developers can now take control of their own destiny within the limits of the overall policies set up by the DevOps team.
That will not only eliminate a few hundred meetings during the year; it will more importantly lead to new applications and upgrades being moved into production faster. At a time when developers everywhere are embracing agile development methodologies, APIC is really an example of IT infrastructure finally getting out of the way by relying on increased automation in a way that gives developers the maximum amount of control required.