"We gained a lot of confidence in and understood that Miradot knew what they were talking about."
About CAG Datastöd
CAG are specialists in IT operations, Financial expert systems and Digitization services and operate primarily in the financial sector with a complete offering in the form of three business areas - IT operations, Financial expert systems and Digitization services.
The IT Operations department are specialists in operations and support for companies, primarily in the financial sector. Regardless of the size of the company, CAG is responsible for the operation of all business-critical applications. This can apply to everything from specific IT deliveries in a specific department, to operation and support for servers and client workstations.
One configuration point for the entire network
The network integrated with VMware
Increased operational reliability
Prepared for automation
Opportunity for further integrations
About Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI)
Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure is a SDN (Software Defined Networking) network data center platform consisting of high performance switches, controllers and software. Together, these components build a complete platform that provides full visibility, control and programmability through a so-called declarative configuration model, which means that you tell the network controller what you want to achieve instead of configuring individual devices.
Together with open APIs and integrations with virtualization systems such as VMware vSphere, OpenStack and Microsoft Hyper-V, you get a powerful data center network with high automation potential.
The landscape of a data center is changing at an ever faster pace and it is as exciting as it is challenging to explore all the new technologies and decide on the choice of platform. These decisions have major consequences and in many cases there are no guarantees of success.
CAG Datastöd was in a tight spot with an outdated data center network based on Cisco Catalyst 6500 but also equipment from other suppliers. Management took place via CLI and the number of management points was as large as the number of units in the network. In addition, there was a virtualization platform from VMware without integration to the physical network, which further increased the amount of manual configuration needed for each new service and thus also the potential for human error.
In the autumn of 2018, after being recommended by other customers, CAG Datastöd contacted Miradot. They were looking for a partner who could help them navigate the now unmanageable ecosystem of data center technologies and who were at the same time agile, competent and able to adapt their way of working.
A first meeting
How did you experience your first encounter with Miradot?
- We gained a lot of confidence and understood that Miradot knew what they were talking about. They quickly formed an understanding of how our existing network was structured and how the business worked, which meant that we already on the first meeting could discuss different ways forward. ACI was one of those ways forward that stood out. In a clear way, Miradot clarified the advantages and disadvantages of each choice and together we could decide that ACI was the most interesting based on our conditions, says Martin Sjöstrand at CAG Datastöd .
What challenges did you face with your old network?
- We had the traditional problems with data center networks, i.e large broadcast domains, extensive spanning tree and scaling problems. In addition, the hardware was outdated and also very heterogeneous, which meant both an increased need for competence and also problems in monitoring and rolling out new configuration.
Why did you choose ACI and how were Miradot helpful in the decision-making process?
- We wanted a unified environment with a central and declarative configuration model, which ACI could offer. We also wanted to be able to integrate layer 2 and layer 3 functionality in the same platform and integrations all the way into hypervisors in our VMware system, to facilitate the work for server engineers as well as network engineers. The ability to connect public clouds and get them to collaborate with our local data center was also important as we absolutely see multi-cloud strategies as a given future. Overall, ACI met our requirements and we placed great trust in Miradot's recommendation, which was helpful in objectively justifying how ACI supports both technical and business goals.
Commissioning and migration
What did the implementation project look like?
- We were informed at an early stage that there was a high learning threshold and that a large part of the work lies in the basic installation itself. Incorporating all new concepts, concepts and integrations meant a steep learning curve while the benefits of a declarative and policy-based configuration became increasingly clear. Miradot was involved and supported all the way from the time the equipment was delivered until the migration was completed, which made it incredibly easy and provided support we wouldn't have managed without. After the basic installation itself was done, we chose to use one of Miradot's ACI specialists on site for two months to drive the migration project forward at a high pace, as we understood that the migration strategy and approach was not like in a traditional network.
Did any unexpected problems occur?
- In connection with the failover between our firewalls, there were some problems with a security function called "Rouge Endpoints" in ACI, but this could be remedied before going into production.
How has your everyday life changed since the introduction of ACI?
- We now have a single configuration point for our entire network in the data center, which is also integrated with our VMware environment, which has made the set-up of new networks / customers a lot easier and faster, but also increased operational reliability and made it easier to de-configure services. We definitely see the benefits of an SDN-based network and are now also looking at further integrations with, for example, with firewalls. The focus has been on a more full-scale automation that ties server, network and storage togehter. We are also now more protected against loops, customer faults and can better segment our various networks. Through this, we have increased the security of the network in general.
During the project, CAG and Miradot have together identified a number of crucial points for the successful implementation of Cisco ACI in a critical environment;
Good understanding of existing architecture and the challenges associated with it.
That the business' goals and working methods form the basis for creating a business case. There must be a clear mapping between the functionality of the platform and how they support compliance, operational goals and working methods.
That a migration plan is included at an early stage so as not to later create unexpected surprises or situations.
Knowledge transfer between Miradot and CAG so that CAG is not left in the unknown with an excellent platform but without the competence to operate, troubleshoot and maintain it.