Challenge: Transforming data center operations for a connected world
Products and services for the modern world have to be intelligent and cloud-connected. As a leading global manufacturer, Bosch is at the forefront of delivering IoT-enabled technologies to its customers. From automotive solutions to home appliances to ebikes and robotic lawn mowers, Bosch has delivered millions of connected products around the world. These products link to services delivered from Bosch data centers.
With the number of customer devices growing by the day, Bosch’s IT operations faced significant challenges.
“Bosch’s vision is to transform into a leading IoT company,” says Jan Holzmann, senior manager for Central Network Services at Bosch. “We continue to support traditional data center applications while accommodating a rapidly expanding IoT footprint with completely different infrastructure requirements and aggressive time to market goals. Intent-based networking and advanced automation are essential to this transition.”
Aligning data center operations with business needs
By capturing and translating business logic and activating the resulting policies networkwide, intent-based networking bridges the gap between what the business needs and what the network delivers. Continuous monitoring and verification ensure alignment.
Bosch’s intent-based networking solution is built using Cisco ACI to automate operations, Cisco Nexus 9000 Series switches, and the Cisco NAE. The combined solution is enabling Bosch to automate and simplify operations and manage data center networking proactively, freeing up time for innovation and business projects.
“The openness and flexibility of Cisco’s APIs for automating both the underlay and overlay networks was a critical factor in our choice of Cisco ACI. It allows us to integrate seamlessly with business workflos and incorporate technologies like OpenStack and Kubernetes, with full support from Cisco.”
Jan Holzmann – Senior Manager for Central Network Services, Bosch
Automating network operations
Cisco ACI lets the Bosch team address evolving networking requirements and increase efficiency and agility across its global data centers. The RESTful APIs provided by Cisco ACI enable the company to automate network operations and integrate easily with other data center technologies.
“The openness and flexibility of Cisco’s APIs for automating both the underlay and overlay networks was a critical factor in our choice of Cisco ACI,” says Holzmann. “It allows us to integrate seamlessly with business workflows and incorporate technologies like OpenStack and Kubernetes, with full support from Cisco.”
Cisco ACI enables Bosch to quickly accomplish network tasks from provisioning to enforcing business policies. Network operating software upgrades, which used to require multiple maintenance slots and several weekends of work, are now completed in a single time slot with minimal effort.
Creating more time for innovation
Deploying a network fabric to support a new project used to require multiple days for planning, re-configuring devices, and validating the deployment. Using the open APIs in Cisco ACI and the flexible spine/leaf architecture of Cisco Nexus 9000 Series switches, fabric deployments are now zero-touch. A single script makes the necessary configuration changes in minutes. Because everything is automated, the risk of human error is greatly reduced.
“When a business unit needed a greenfield data center to support a big data project, we relied on Cisco ACI for the deployment,” explains Gero Beck, senior network engineer at Bosch. “Previously, a project like this would have taken us months to complete, but with scripted deployment we reduced the time to a matter of hours.”
The Bosch team also relies on Cisco ACI to automate the delivery of network services for developers and business teams through its self-service portal. All networking functions are being abstracted so internal customers can consume them easily, reducing the burden on the networking team, ensuring consistent networking policy and business logic are applied, and making operations more efficient.
“We used to spend the majority of our time on network operations, leaving little time for innovation,” says Beck. “With Cisco ACI, we will be able to dedicate much more time to projects that move Bosch’s business forward.”
“We used to spend the majority of our time on network operations, leaving little time for innovation. With Cisco ACI, we will be able to dedicate much more time to projects that move Bosch’s business forward.”
Gero Beck - Senior Network Engineer, Bosch
Delivering consistent network services everywhere
A single global operations team is responsible for managing networking across data centers around the world, with facilities ranging in size from small to very large. In the past, Bosch used a variety of networking solutions to accommodate these differences in scale, introducing complexity and creating management challenges for the team. Cisco ACI allows Bosch to address all of these diverse requirements with a single solution for its global and regional data centers.
“Some of our fabrics only have a handful of leaf switches, while others have thousands of 40GbE ports,” says Beck. “With Cisco ACI, everything looks and feels the same from a configuration and management standpoint, simplifying life for our global team.”
Given the increasingly dynamic nature of its business operations, the Bosch team already has an eye on ways to increase their reach and efficiency even further in the future.
“Cisco ACI will give us the ability to extend beyond the data center to include everything from the edge to the public cloud, so we can manage network policy everywhere with a methodology we know and trust,” adds Holzmann.
Validating that networks operate as expected
Connected customers are very sensitive to latency issues and service degradation. For Bosch, Cisco NAE is another critical element of their total data center solution; the company was one of the first to deploy the technology. As a key pillar in Cisco’s intent-based networking solution, Cisco NAE transforms data center network operations to a proactive model, verifying the entire network for correctness and giving Bosch operators confidence that the network is always operating consistent with intent.
“Cisco NAE accelerates troubleshooting and allows us to identify and correct potential issues before they affect the business,” says Holzmann. “Its proactive operations model lets us deliver high service levels with less effort and less stress on the team.”
By incorporating Cisco NAE, Bosch can be certain that configurations are consistent, that devices are configured properly, and that segmentation and security policies are enforced. Cisco NAE simplifies network capacity planning and will enable the team to predict the impact of changes before they make them.
“Cisco ACI and Cisco NAE are the foundation of Bosch’s next-generation data center platform,” continues Holzmann. “We believe this is the right solution to meet our business challenges today and in the future.”
“Cisco Network Assurance Engine accelerates troubleshooting and allows us to identify and correct potential issues before they affect the business. Its proactive operations model lets us deliver high service levels with less effort and less stress on the team.”
Jan Holzmann - Senior Manager for Central Network Services, Bosch
Ensuring data center transformation success
Transitioning a data center from traditional networking to SDN is a big undertaking for any organization. But for a globally distributed operation the size of Bosch, the complexities are magnified. To ensure success, Bosch turned to the Cisco Customer Experience team.
“Cisco provided advanced training for our operations team in two geographic locations,” says Beck. “This helped us build up our skills and confidence. It was one of the best training sessions I have ever had.”
Advanced services enabled the Bosch team to accelerate and de-risk its Cisco ACI deployment and to automate infrastructure management, saving valuable time and increasing service levels.
“The Customer Experience team sped up completion of design, deployment, and testing. This saved us multiple months, while also mitigating the risks of the transition,” says Holzmann. “Cisco treats us more like a partner than a customer, and the difference shows. That’s another reason that Cisco ACI is the platform of choice for our global and regional data centers.”
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