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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.

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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.

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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):

Centric

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:

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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:

MTE

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:

 

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IMG_4935

IMG_5006

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.

 

Complexity is just like Chocolate…

ChocolateConfession time: If someone puts a nice chocolate in my reach, I find it very hard to resist. In fact, there are few days where I don’t get my dose of dark chocolate. Chocolate is one of the pleasures in life. Of course we all know that eating too much chocolate will get you into big trouble: With your blood sugar levels, your shirt-size, your partner, and with your kids (albeit for different reasons).

Complexity is really the same thing! Let’s be honest: Can we ever resist the latest features and functionalities on our networks? And with each new feature, we ask for even more visibility, control, and sub-features? But just like with chocolate, we all know that too much isn’t good for us.

Yes, we all love complexity!
blog-pic1

Hang on – that’s not what we hear in the press, is it? “IT Complexity considered most important inhibitor to innovation and effectiveness” (1) “What causes enterprise data breaches? The terrible complexity and fragility of our IT systems” (2) You can find many quotes in this direction. So – we hate complexity?

The truth is: it’s just like with chocolate – small improvements can add lots of value, but eat too much and you become sluggish and might even get seriously sick.

The funny thing is, there is actually no definition of the term “network complexity”. Researchers have dug deep into certain areas, such as software complexity, graph complexity, routing complexity, and many others. However, networks have a bit of all of that, and there is no global view on network complexity. The Internet Research Task Force tried to get to the bottom of the topic, created the “Network Complexity Research Group”(3) in 2011, but concluded in 2014 without tangible results. Researchers and industry specialists collaborated at http://networkcomplexity.org, with lots of materials posted and discussed, but again no clear results.
blog-pic2

What we do see is that too much complexity tends to slow us down. It becomes hard to make changes to the network, because we don’t really know what will happen. Introducing new systems requires serious up front testing, because there are just too many interactions on the network, and we can’t really judge the impact of change.

But complexity can also deliver value that we want. If you want a branch office that is robust against failures, you have to do a redundant set-up (middle of the graph). But that’s more complex than the single device/line solution (on the left of the graph), isn’t it? You need some failover protocols and mechanisms that you don’t need on the simple layout? Yes, you *do* want a certain level of complexity, because it provides value, in this case robustness against outages. Other values can be: Security, agility, programmability, and so on (there are lots!). There is no right or wrong here: In my home network, the left model is perfectly ok, in a branch office of a bank it might not be. All depends on the use case and its requirements.

Obviously, there are limits: Adding a third row to this layout (right) intuitively will not increase availability, but probably cause more failures due to more complex protocol interactions that are not widely deployed.

When eating chocolates, your waist line tends to grow over time. The same is true for network and IT complexity: Most networks start out reasonably simple, but then new requirements need to be supported, you move to a new device and OS types in parts of the network, ever growing security concerns add layer by layer of protections, and so on. And: Nobody ever removes components that aren’t used any longer. When have *you* last removed some feature from a network?
blog-pic3

The Cynefin framework(4) (left) illustrates this process, and helps understanding the progression of complexity over time: Most networks start out as “obvious”, simple and consistent architecture, uniform devices, OSs, and initially simple requirements. As we add new components, make changes, allow exceptions, the network becomes more complicated. But “complicated” still means that an expert can, albeit with some effort, model the effect of a proposed change. Complex systems show an emergent behaviour: Even with massive analysis, the outcome of a change is not fully predictable. Finally, a system becomes chaotic if there is no relationship between a change and the result any more – This is unpredictability. Most networks today operate in the “complex” area, which is why analysis on paper is usually not enough. The only way to really know whether it works or not is to test it. No paper analysis can safely predict the behaviour of a complex system.

In summary:
• Complexity isn’t all bad. It’s important to balance the right level of complexity with the features you require.
• The level of complexity typically changes over the lifetime of a network.
• Complexity and Chocolates are best enjoyed in moderation.

In the next blog we’ll suggest some high level measures to control complexity. And, hopefully not surprisingly, there are actually a lot of innovations happening in Cisco which reduce complexity. Stay tuned!


This blog was prepared as part of a team project on complexity, actively supported by: Bruno Klauser, Patrick Charretour, Mehrdad Ghane, Dave Berry and Rebecca Holm Breinholdt.


(1) A.T.Kearney Study 2009
(2) http://www.zdnet.com/article/what-causes-enterprise-data-breaches-the-terrible-complexity-and-fragility-of-our-it-systems/
(3) https://irtf.org/ncrg/
(4) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynefin
Photo credit: Dominic Lockyer, shared under the creative commons licence 2.0.

 

 

 

 

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OPNFV: Systems integration for NFV as a community effort

Can OPNFV (Open Platform for Network Function Virtualization) become the base infrastructure layer for running virtual network functions, much like Linux is the base operating system for a large number of network devices?

The first step has been taken: “Arno” – the first release of the OPNFV project came out today. What does it provide – and, more importantly, what’s in it for you?

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Verify my service chain!

How do you prove that all traffic that is supposed to go through the service chain you specified actually made it through the service chain?

This blog was written by Frank Brockners, Sashank Dara, and Shwetha Bhandari.

Service function chaining is used in many networks today. The evolution towards NFV, combined with new technologies such as Segment Routing (SR) or Network Service Header (NSH) makes service chaining easier to deploy and operate – and thus even more popular. Unfortunately there is still one hard question left that management or security departments tend to ask: Can you please prove to me that all traffic that was meant to traverse a specific service chain really followed that path?

Service chain verification is here to help: By adding some meta-data to our traffic, we can now provide a packet by packet proof of the actual path followed. The meta-data can either be carried independently from the service chaining technology used (as part of in-band OAM information) or included in an NSH or SR header.

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