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Innovation and Standards Update

In my last blog post on standards and innovation (Why Standards Matter…And When They Don’t) I mentioned that Cisco’s VNTag, had been submitted to the IEEE for standardization. Last week, the IEEE authorized a project, 802.1Qbh: Bridged Port Extension, to amend the Ethernet switch standard to include capabilities like those provided by our VNTag technology.

Official Scope of Project:

Amendment specifies protocols, procedures, and managed objects to support Port Extension.  A Port Extender attaches to a MAC port of an 802.1Q bridge and provides additional MAC ports that are logically ports of the 802.1Q bridge to which it is attached (i.e. the “Controlling Bridge”).  The protocols, procedures, and managed objects specified in this amendment are expected to specify new behavior in bridges that support port extension as well as the behavior of Port Extenders themselves.  In addition, the protocols, procedures, and managed objects specified in this amendment support the cascading of Port Extenders.  To the extent technically reasonable, all frame filtering and relay functions remain in the Controlling Bridge. 

Use of a STag for Multichannel capability as being defined in Edge Virtual Bridging is envisaged to achieve this objective.  A new on-the-wire indication (e.g. a new tag) is envisioned to support remote replication for purposes including frame flooding and group address support.

As always, Cisco is committed to supporting 802.1Qbh in its products once it becomes a ratified standard.  More information about the proposed standard can be found at the following links:

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Cisco TechWiseTV Episode on Unified Fabric

I just wanted to give you a heads-up that we have an upcoming TechWiseTV on Unified Fabric.  If you have watched TWTV before, you know this Robb and Jimmy Ray are going to take a no-holds-barred look at unified fabric with equal parts humor and enlightenment.



In this latest episode…

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When Eight May Not Be Enough for Virtualization

Eight Is Enough was an American comedy / drama that ran from 1977 – 1981.  See if you are oddly curious.  You may not share my vintage or decided to be productive during those years, but the metaphor relates to interface requirements for VMware hypervisor implementations.   

The foundation for private or public clouds is virtualization.  This blog entry focuses on the network interfaces used to build a topology for VMware.  Specifically, VMware has the concept of port groups and vswitches ( [url reference if you want more detail]).  There are many reasons and combinations to choose from relative to this implementation.  I will comment on some of them next.

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Why Standards Matter…And When They Don’t

The year was 1992, Disney’s Aladdin was the top grossing movie, Garth Brooks had the top-selling album in the US, and I was a freshly minted SE.  Being a studious and diligent SE, I read up on all the gear sold by the integrator I worked for, and I decided that the Wellfleet BCN was the product of choice for our customers based on its hardware architecture and the impressive list of standards to which it laid claim.


And, then a funny thing happened…I learned that, while customers value standards compliance, what they value even more are networks that work and do what they need them to do.  And herein lies the inherent contradiction of networking standards and the constant tension between innovation and standards.


Ultimately customers look to us to address their problems: “I need my network to _________ (fill in the blank) so I can support the needs of my business–oh, and I’d like that ASAP, please” .  Luckily, our customer base is not shy, so when we see a trend, we move to address it and put solutions out there for our customers.  This is where innovation is critical–having the ability to continually move the ball forward to ensure networking continues to meet the needs of markets that are themselves continually evolving.  


But, ultimately, standardization is the end goal.  Without standardization, innovation cannot scale.  Time and again, we have seen that if a technology is balkanized, it stalls because no one wants to choose poorly (on a somewhat related note, I have a fine collection of HD-DVDs I’m willing to part with at a fair price).


Most of you are probably familiar with some version of the technology adoption lifecycle chart below, made popular by Geoffrey Moore in his seminal work “Crossing the Chasm”.



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New Book Published from Cisco IT

Not sure if you’ve seen it yet but a great book for anybody trying to define what a “Green” data center means and take steps towards migrating to one.  I’ve known Doug Alger for about 4 years now, he is a Solutions Architect within Cisco IT.  Doug does is a rare breed, he has a strong facilities background but is employed by an IT operation.  Doug often jokes that if Facilities and IT departments had no issues in planning and management, his job would go away.  I was privileged to provide technical editing for this book and from what I know in the industry, I believe it is the best work today in providing a resource base to build upon.

Since there is no such thing as a Green Data Center today (in a purist sense), this book addresses what steps you can take and what standards are their to move towards one.  This is a great book to not just read once but refer back to in building your plan.

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