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Model-driven Programmability: The Rise of Network Automation

Software automation and data analytics are changing the face of computer networks. They are radically transforming how networks are built and operated. We are rapidly moving away from a world where a network operator manages tenths of network devices.  Instead, one individual can deploy and manage hundreds, thousands and tenths of thousands of complex network devices with the help of software and data analytics (what is your current ratio?). This transformation is quickly spreading from its birthplace, the data center, to all places in the network. To help accelerate these changes, we introduced significant software innovations for cloud Scale networking in Cisco IOS XR last year. A main component of those innovations is model-driven programmability.

The new programmability capabilities in Cisco IOS XR provide a rich and flexible infrastructure for network automation. What makes it rich and flexible? Read More »

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Fosdem 2016, part 2: NBAR 2 gives insights into the protocols used on the network

Continuing the analysis of the data collected during Fosdem 2016, see XXX.

This year, we replaced the router with a more powerful model: an ASR 1006 with RP2 and SIP20 modules. This allowed us to enable the NBAR 2 feature to analyse the traffic crossing the router.

NBAR 2 is a traffic analysis engine which allows the router to classify traffic into applications. It does this on the basis of ports, but also based on the content of the traffic itself. It recognizes, for example, the difference between general web traffic and traffic to youtube.

This feature is designed to be used as a classifier for use with QoS, so that one can give higher priority to important web traffic and less to some other traffic. Now that HTTP and HTTPS are the new “TCP sockets”, meaning that more and more applications use HTTP or HTTPS to interact with the world, we need deeper insight into the traffic and just using port numbers isn’t enough anymore to discriminate between different kinds of requests.

For Fosdem, we used this to learn what kind of traffic is being generated on the network and to extract interesting information from traffic flows (but more on that in a later article).
Read More »

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Fosdem 2016: a first quick look

As is our tradition by now a team of volunteers helped out with the network setup and operation of Free and Open-source Software Developers’ European Meeting (FOSDEM). The network was very similar to the one used over the last two years and we wanted to report on the evolution of the traffic we measured.

This year, we were able to go much ‘deeper’ into the traffic, so we have a lot more to report. Too much in fact for one article, so this is the first in a series.

Read More »

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Cisco Live San Diego 2015 – IPv6 “the wrap”

Cisco Live US landed back in San Diego this year and (together with 25,000 others) I packed my bags for a week of technology dialogue and professional excitement. Here is my personal summary of (what is always) one of my favourite weeks of the year.


As we entered the event, IPv6 deployment in the US was sitting at around 18% with the ARIN IPv4 free pool on the brink of total depletion.

Screenshot 2015-06-26 11.23.52

Once again this year I was lucky enough to be closely involved in the event: as IPv6 Session Group Manager (together with my colleague Eric Vyncke) we are jointly responsible for reviewing all IPv6 content. Within Cisco Live, IPv6 has risen to a position where we are now reviewing and instilling content in almost every single Breakout and Techtorial that includes IP as a component part. This year our specific reviews touched:

  • 30 Technical Breakouts
  • 3 Techtorials
  • 4 Hands-on Labs

There were many other sessions that made reference to IPv6 but these were the specific sessions Eric and I reviewed.

We also directly insert into the program, and this year we positioned 3 specific IPv6 sessions:

Here you see the audience listening to “Addressing Networking challenges with latest Innovations in IPv6 – BRKRST-2616” (one of the last sessions offered in San Diego):


This session created a particular “buzz” for a number of reasons:

Mark Townsley did a fantastic job of wrapping up all of the work we have been doing in IPv6-Centric networking since announcing the effort to the world just over a year ago. This was also formally the “debut” of IPv6-Centric at Cisco Live (expect more in future). Follow along via:

The IPv6 Technical Breakouts reached a total audience of over 2500 attendees. Looking at the surveys, it seems everyone was very happy with the education delivered.

The audience feedback on these sessions was really nice to read:

  • A lot of very valuable info
  • Good info. Well presented.
  • Great content and great speaker.
  • Interesting and very well explain
  • Interesting developments coming in IPv6 with some slick solutions.
  • This was the best session in Cisco Live 2015.
  • Great idea having audience to do an address exercise 
  • Liked the exercise at the end. Good content and explanation of things to avoid.
  • Loved the exercise

My congratulations to all of the Cisco Live IPv6 speakers and thanks to all for their great contributions. In case you missed anything and would like to review recordings of any of the content delivered in San Diego (or for that matter at other Cisco Live Events) then do not forget that content is all archived on line:

Cisco Live 365 Content Archive

San Diego content will appear in early July.

I was also involved in an excellent IPv6 Panel discussing “Experiences with IPv6 Deployment“.

This panel had some great external subject matter experts and practitioners including:

  • John Jason Brzozowski – Fellow and Chief Architect, IPv6, Comcast Cable
  • Rich Lewis – IPv6 Product Manager, Oracle Corporation
  • Stephanie Schuller – Global Infrastructure Architecture & Strategy, LinkedIn
  • Chip Popiviciu – President and CEO, Nephos6
  • Ed Horley – Principal Solutions Architect, Groupware Technology
  • Alain Fiocco – Sr Director, IPv6 High Impact Project, Cisco
  • Eric Vyncke – Distinguished Engineer, Cisco
  • Jon Woolwine – Distinguished IT Engineer, Cisco

The panel are all in the picture below:



Among the many interesting topics discussed were:

  • Address management and assignment
  • Security
  • Deployment Best practices

Speaking during the panel Jon Woolwine shared how Cisco rolled out IPv6 internally:

”We were able to absorb most of the cost of our IPv6 deployment by using our existing network lifecycle process to upgrade IOS versions and lay down the proper IPv6 configuration across thousands of network devices”

We asked the audience about the Industry they represented and their specific plans for (and roadblocks to) IPv6 deployment. Some of the feedback captured is shown below. We had a majority of Enterprises in the audience. Over half of our audience had deployed or would deploy IPv6 in the next 18 months with a third of those actually deploying IPv6 within the infrastructure itself.

Screenshot 2015-06-24 17.15.05

Screenshot 2015-06-24 17.24.05

Screenshot 2015-06-24 18.01.35

Later I asked the panel for their personal observations on the session:

Ed Horley observed:

“It is exciting to see the interest in IPv6 that was present in the IPv6 panel session. The questions from the audience were excellent and my fellow panel members had incredible practical knowledge to share. Clearly, there is a shift happening where enterprises are starting to realize the impact that IPv6 might have and are starting to investigate a way forward.”

Chip Popiviciu said:

The size of the audience, the questions, the interaction and overall energy displayed during this panel highlighted industry’s clear change in perception, interest and prioritization towards IPv6. It is exciting to see IPv6 finally being understood and appreciated for what it really is, a foundational enabler of IT transformation”

Alain Fiocco commented:

“The Internet is now a dual stack global communication system, the debate whether this is going to happen or not, is long over. We did not get questions about “why or when should IPv6 be deployed in my organisation”, it was mainly a discussion about “how”. I believe the audience really appreciated the unfiltered feedback from people who have “done the job” . There is a real sense of urgency, and the realization that it is a lot better to deploy IPv6 on your own terms”

Meet the Engineer was buzzing with meetings (both organised and ad hoc). I had personal involvement in 3 whilst in San Diego. I captured a view of the Meeting Hub area below:


Eric and I also drove IPv6 within the rest of the Cisco Live program. Our span of focus here included:

  • Ensuring the event runs on IPv6-enabled web platforms
  • Ensuring the event makes IPv6 available to attendees on the WiFi
  • Highlighting IPv6 usage in the World of Solutions and DevNet Zones

Leveraging Cisco infrastructures protocols and APIs that support IPv6 including Management, Monitoring, DDOS mitigation, Troubleshooting Configuration and Address Management, Cisco Partners products and solution offerings are critical to help our customers enable and leverage IPv6. Within the World of Solutions over 250 Cisco partners exhibited all that is new and innovative in the networking world and once again we were highlighting IPv6 Enabled demonstrations with the IPv6 Enabled Logo:

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 18.47.38

We specifically found IPv6 running in many demonstrations including:

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all Partners who enabled IPv6 but these were the ones I personally visited and tagged.

I captured many of these on picture for you to enjoy here.

We also created brand new program for Cisco Live San Diego, which we called IPv6 Ambassadors. The idea was to spread awareness of IPv6 deployment status using the Cisco 6lab site as a vehicle for discussion and learning. Adorned with these cool shirts and jackets carrying the logo of the Cisco 6lab site were a number of my colleagues including Alain Fiocco (rear view !)Tim Martin, Fred Baker and Vernoika McKillop who are shown below:






In total we covered over 39 hours of “Ambassador time” socialising the overall state of IPv6 deployment. Please look for IPv6 Ambassadors in future Cisco Live events.

Cisco Live never stops and is back again in November in Cancun. My personal involvement will resume again shortly as we start planning our content program for Cisco Live Europe in Berlin in February 2016 and of course back in the US in Las Vegas in July where we will continue to raise the flag for IPv6.


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Cisco Technology Radar is a Grand Prize 2015 Finalist for ISPIM Innovation Management

I am delighted to announce that, on June 15th 2015, alongside the SunShot Catalyst by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and the Tata Group Innovation Forum, the Cisco Technology Radar received an award for being named as a finalist in the prestigious ISPIM Grand Prize 2015 for excellence in innovation management! This prize, presented by leading industry experts in Budapest, is aimed at recognizing and rewarding the operations behind the products that make headlines in the market.

2015 Award Ceremony-smThe best products are born out of a lengthy process of outstanding innovation and hard work that all too often goes unnoticed. This award highlights this behind-the-scenes management work that innovation researchers, industry executives, thought leaders and policy makers do to innovate and create new, unique strategies for delivering industry-leading products and services to the market successfully.

The award is fantastic news for us, as the prize confirms the impact of our program and its contribution to our unique position in the market.

It’s vital to be able to understand and track where IT is headed in the future, in order to be able to innovate, evolve and continue to grow as an organization, and remain an industry leader. Our Technology Radar is a key part of it: it analyses the market and identifies changes, enabling the tracking and acting on new technologies developed outside of Cisco that will impact the future of our business, either as a threat or an opportunity.

From Technology Management…
We initiated the Technology Radar back in 2010. Our objective then was to take advantage of a transition period in order to prepare for better days, find future paths for growth and raise awareness amongst leaders in a systemic way.

After more than five years spent assessing and identifying emerging technologies and trends, we are tremendously proud of what we have accomplished with this program: from recognizing technologies several years prior to acquisitions and helping drive academic funding in key emergent areas, to launching open innovation grand challenges to co-innovate with our ecosystem.

Finally, what we are most proud of is to have done this together, with more than 150 technology scouts across Cisco, employees contributing to the program motivated by their passion for technology and their willingness to push boundaries; with dozens of Cisco Fellows and Distinguished engineers, who relentlessly reviewed, commented, assessed, suggested and embraced those new technologies, quarter after quarter, contributing to breaking silos and paving the way towards the sourcing of some of those technologies.

… To Bold Idea Hunting
The Technology Radar is now an established platform within the company that will keep running as efficiently as ever. In this stage of exponential change, however, it is time for the company to add another ingredient to its innovation engine.

Together with my team, I will start exploring new territories, hunting for new ideas at the crossroads of technological breakthroughs and business model innovation. Taking into account macro-economic factors and unique insights from programs like the Technology Radar, we will focus on finding and assessing disruptive and bold ideas that have the potential to shape the future of Cisco’s business, outside of the usual areas of focus of our business units innovation programs.

Stay tuned for more details about how we get organized and for early results from our quest for bold and exciting ideas.