Cisco ACI and Vnomic bring Agility and Simplicity to CenturyLink’s Cloud Managed Services



CenturyLink is a Global technology company. CenturyLink Global IT Services group delivers a broad range of technology-enabled consulting and implementation services, including cloud enablement, big data-as-a-service, advanced decision sciences, digital commerce, managed security application development, and disaster recovery services. Its consulting services combined with extensive expertise in hosting, managing and optimizing SAP applications across business functions and industries, helps customers maximize their SAP workloads and reduce their total cost of ownership.

In this blog, I want to present the deployment successes experienced by CenturyLink running SAP HANA on a Flexpod infrastructure powered by Cisco UCS, Cisco ACI and Vnomic.

CenturyLink Challenges: Enterprise customers are struggling with how to respond to increased demand for SAP applications. Their IT organizations must deploy services quickly, then rapidly add or remove resources from already-running applications to meet user demand.  In addition, while adhering to the security and governance requirements, they must meet time, costs and service level requirements.

Why CenturyLink looked at Vnomic and Cisco ACI as a favorable candidate? Being able to deploy instances of SAP HANA in just an hour vs. several months is a big deal for any organization.  SAP BW on HANA deployments have all the attributes of complex, dynamic applications that can benefit from Cisco ACI and FlexPod.  These include highly variable performance and scale demands, distributed users, virtual and physical resource requirements, different storage types, and 24/7 global availability.  Configuring and deploying these landscapes can take months and involves manual layout of new infrastructure and connectivity.  These long lead times limit the agility customers have to respond to variable business needs.

Traditional infrastructure, even in managed private hosting environments, doesn’t provide the speed and agility that a cloud hosted solution provides. Plus, it’s very expensive to operate an SAP environment.

Deployment environment at CenturyLink The ability to scale the infrastructure is only half the story. Customers need the ability to spin up new SAP landscapes, clone their systems/apps, perform refreshes, and instantiate development environments identical to production. A cloud hosted SAP HANA service offering enables Service providers to meet those demands.

The Flexpod based production environment brings flexibility, scale and simplicity of operations for CenturyLink.  First, the Cisco validated designs reduces risk and ensures compliance and security. Flexpod’s UCS compute units enables seamless scaling of blade server capacity (B260 and B460 blades as needed). Vnomic further automates and simplifies migration across different OS versions of RHEL with its built-in mapping facility and one-click application deployment. Cisco ACI with its policy based network automation is a key enabler of CenturyLink Customer demands of fast realization of workloads and Cisco ACI+Vnomic make an ideal pair to achieving this business objective.

CenturyLink operates a true Multi-tenant production environment in which UCS-M and APIC are shared resources, while the compute blades themselves are dedicated on a per-customer basis. Customers run multiple (4 different flavors) RHEL OS versions and Vnomic makes the application deployment across these flavors simple with its mapping automation and single click deployment. APIC enables creation of policy based application network profiles, which brings agility to the provisioning and configuration of network infrastructure.

Benefits of Cisco ACI+Vnomic Solution

CenturyLink realized significant benefits with the ACI-Vnomic joint solution. Foremost one is time-to-value, which enabled a new Customer BW HANA instance to be spun up in the order of hours from historical experience of weeks and months. Errors encountered in manual operations and downtime often cost anywhere from 10k to 10 million dollars in a typical SAP HANA operations environment. FlexPod based automation eliminated manual operations and reduced OPEX significantly.

“By partnering up with Vnomic and Cisco, we are able to solve a real problem in the market when it comes to enterprise level SAP deployments.  With their revolutionary policy driven models, this enables CenturyLink to take the pain out of manual deployments in various areas of the stack, reduce or eliminate manual handoffs between departments, and have the peace of mind that our infrastructure, end-to-end, is fully within SAP best practices and can prove this with full auditability.  For each VM or bare metal server we deploy, and Vnomic leveraging their deep level understanding of Cisco ACI, we are able to achieve 100% certainty that each image is fully compliant to SAP best practices.  With the deep level expertise of CenturyLink, our wide network reach, not to mention the recent acquisition of SEAL consulting; we are uniquely enabled in the market to address any SAP customer needs at any level.  By leveraging the partnership of CenturyLink, Cisco, NetApp, SAP and Vnomic we can now provide faster realization of investment to our customers and provide a fully managed, secure and private cloud solutions for Enterprise customers.† Craig Belics, CenturyLink Sr. Lead Product Manager

Cisco FlexPod offers unprecedented VM density and bare-metal performance capabilities and enables both physical and virtual workloads to co-exist on same blade server. Moreover, FlexPod’s Pre-tested, pre-validated Cisco validated designs reduces risk, and ensures configurations are aligned with SAP best practices.

Governance and auditability from application to infrastructure is simplified with Vnomic’s ability to use declarative constraint based modeling to enforce the policies and keep track of all the changes for auditability requirements. Moreover, Vnomic shows application and infrastructure dependencies. ACI’s contracts, service graphs, and system log files complies with SOX and enables compliance reports and forensic analysis required of enterprise-grade cloud deployments.


CenturyLink is delivering the next generation of SAP HANA landscapes solutions using FlexPod powered by Cisco ACI and Vnomic.This innovative solution enables CenturyLink to deliver complete SAP HANA system and landscape in hours rather than months, while meeting all of the SAP best practices as well as security, governance and compliance requirements, thanks to the innovative Vnomic declarative and constraint based modeling technologies  that automates the SAP landscape delivery, governance and auditability end to end.

Related Links

CenturyLink press release

Solution Video Overview: