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In June, 2014, I attended the DevOps Days (un)Conference at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. I reflected on that in this blog post. At the end of that blog I said:

“At DevOps days, I was kindly introduced, by Paul Peissner of CollabNet, to John Willis and Dave Nielsen, who helped organise the event. John and Dave are keen to do something, similar to DevOps Days, focused on the intersection with the networking world, enabled by emerging network programming concepts.”

On October 14 Paul, John, Dave, I and a whole host of others attended DevOps 4 Networks, which was the event that we wanted to put together back in June. On reflection (as I do that a lot), four months from “we should …” to “we did …” is more than a little impressive. Dave and John pulled it all together, and I am very grateful to the wider DevNet team of Ruth, Ed, Chuq, Mandy and others who helped make it possible. Thanks guys and gals!

As part of the organisation process, we also started this DevOps Tools Survey. Please take a moment to complete that. I have added this link at the end of the blog also.

The event itself was organised as an (un)conference, with an agenda in the morning (details of videos below) and self-organised discussions in the afternoon. The attendance was very good. Over 300 people registered, with over 150 actually attending (which is very typical of such events).  The panorama photo below was taken during a break in proceedings during the morning.


The videos from that day, and others, can be found at YouTube. I have curated a list below in rough temporal order to provide a sense of how the thinking and conversation has evolved over time, and during the day of the event.

John Willis’s thoughts on this space from early 2014, John Willis — The Network – The Next Frontier for Devops?, and mid 2014, Alice In Wonderland – DevOps and OpenStack Networking help illustrate where his thinking started, what he has observed as this space has evolved, and lays some of the conceptual groundwork for what follows.

John’s interviews with Jeremy SchulmanBrent SalisburyLorie McVittie and Mat Peterson, in the lead up to the DevOps4Networks event, provide insights from industry leaders in this space.

The Opening Remarks by John Willis at DevOps4Networks 2014 helped set the context nicely, and explained why we needed a focused event. As John says, if you think this is cool, then please say so.

The DevOps 4 Networks Keynote by JR Rivers (18:11) posed the “vampire tap” challenge. If you don’t know that is, look here, and accept that you have failed JR’s challenge ;-).  Perhaps more importantly, JR brought his decades of experience, gained at Cisco, Google, Cisco, Cumulus, to the conference to help us understand why we were all there. Think Linux, code in Git, fully automated, hosted, evaluation environments, the myth of the universal data model versus working, consumable, technology, with guardrails built with defensive programming in byte-sized chunks!

Test Driven Development for Networking by Colin McNamara (36:23) was arguably the most quoted presentation of the day, especially the maturity levels chart and value stream mapping.  The why aspect of test driven development helped capture the essence of what the day was about. Agile, DevOps, SDN and Cloud all fit together in Colin’s vision. Configuration as code, infrastructure is code; DevOps is the new network operations. Change control boards suck (how can anyone ever know what will really happen?!). Managing a network without tests is like driving a Ferrari without seatbelts, eventually it won’t work out. The exposition of basic CI for networks was a very practical example that everyone can benefit from, including an explanation of what GitGerrit and Jenkins are for. VIRL was also explained, so look for more about how we plan to use that in a future blog from me.

The panel session with Alex Honor, Jeremy Schulman and Nathan Sowatskey, Panel: Do Network DevOps Pros Need to Code? (59:05) addressed one of the key questions facing network engineers and operators. The upshot is that understanding automation and how developers, and developer tool chains, work is key; actually being able to write code yourself, less so. It also reminds me how weird it is to see oneself on a video (useful though).

When DevOps & Networking Intersect by Brent Salisbury (41:23), which starts off with slightly weird audio as Brent had the benefit of two microphones, and someone else in the venue (God?), with a friend waiting in front of the museum (radio mikes!). Having gotten past all that, Brent’s observations on operational evolution and the value of the team make it all worth it. Highlights include application virtualisation, exponential growth, commoditisation, vertical integration, unused hardware capacity and scale, what SDN is for (the edge), contradictions between innovation and stability, L2 suckiness, and cumulative years of experience about what does not scale.

What the Business Thinks about Network Programming by Nathan Sowatskey (6:14), based on my interactions over the years with customers thinking about network programming and automation.

The Making of a “Hybrid” Engineer by Salman Asadullah (6:44) covers the challenges of training network engineers to understand the programming and automation worlds, and application engineers to understand the network.

The Chef Cookbooks we use at Ooyala by Bao Nguyen (6:22) provides a very pragmatic overview of using Chef and Git (another shout out for Git, a theme of the day) for network configuration management (because they were using Chef in IT anyway, so why not? That’s how IT people think, network dudes have to get used to that).

SDN for Hybrid Clouds by Vinothini Raju (5:41), with whom I had great sympathy as she had also just flown in, but from India! The key points focused on dynamic capacity provisioning, replication of active storage, i.e. caches, data distribution, which has the compute service in the cloud, but the data in a private store.

Burning Man – Scaling for an Extremely Temporary Network by Matt Peterson, just to reinforce how sucky L2 is, what a truck-roll is like on a bicycle, how people (L8) really get L1 together in a DevOps way, dehydrated, in the desert whilst possibly not entirely sober.

Infrastructure API Lightning Talk by Jeremy Pollard of (23:11) what if your network was smarter than you? Configuring networks manually is boring and error prone, and you have better things to do with your life. Such as write formulas that generate all that stuff for you.

If you like all of this, and want to see more, please let us know!

As part of the organisation process, we also started this DevOps Tools Survey. Please take a moment to complete that.

Seeds of Change

While change is a hallmark of the IT industry, the actual levers for change are BLOG-OPEN-COMPUTE-PROJECT-LOGO-FEB12have actually remained fairly stable. Vendors were the initial agents of change largely because they were the only ones with the critical mass of smart people, R&D, manufacturing and service delivery to seed and then maintain a fledgeling industry—barriers to entry were a bit higher 30 years ago than they are today because the innovation was happening at the physical layer—we were still fighting over layer 1 and layer 2. The best thing that happened to this industry was the rapid emergence of standards developing organizations (SDOs) as the next arbiter of change. The action moved up the stack and networking exploded because protocols like Ethernet, TCP/IP and BGP were standardized and created a stable, level playing field that benefited everyone alike. Over the last few years, the open source movement has emerged as the latest lever for change in the industry. By democratizing the whole process of innovation, open hardware and software is giving rise to an astounding rate of change.

Now, there is many a VC pitch that’s hinges on painting Cisco as the ossified incumbent (trust me, I have seen a few), but the inconvenient reality is we have been active contributors in the open networking initiatives that have emerged in the last few years including ONF, OpenStack, OpenDaylight, and OPNFV. To that list, I am pleased to announce that we recently joined the Open Compute Project as a Gold member. The motivation behind our membership is similar to our involvement in the aforementioned open networking projects: we see the OCP community as an excellent forum to work  with our customers to co-develop solutions to meet the challenges they face.

As you many know, OCP is structured into a number of projects (networking, server design, storage, etc). While there are a number of areas where we could (and will likely) engage, the first project will be Networking (shocking, I know), where we feel we can make some useful contributions to the existing work underway.

Beyond this, I do not have a whole lot more to share—to borrow a phrase from a friend of mine, the coin of the realm is code and specs and the work is just getting started for us, but expect to see some cool stuff in the near future.

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IPv6 in the Cisco Live World of Solutions

Just recently I wrote about the IPv6 enabled logo program here at the Cisco Live 2014 World of Solutions (WoS). It is now time to share some of the results! In what follows I will say that I did not have enough time to exhaustively visit every single demonstration in the WoS. My time there was confined to a short window on the Tuesday morning, where I went to investigate and locate the IPv6 enabled demos myself.

Armed with my phone camera and IPv6 enabled logo stickers, I began my journey in the WoS starting with the Cisco demonstrations.

It didn’t take me more than a few steps to find the first one – Cisco Autonomic Networks. My colleague Amit Dutta was showing this technology in action and here you can see him alongside the demo which is tagged with the IPv6 enabled sticker. Check out the technology and the logo! Also leveraging the Autonomic feature set, Cisco was featuring the Autonomic Train with my colleague Toerless Eckert. Read his extensive blog that explains the demonstration in details and watch the video.

Another place in the Cisco campus where I found IPv6 in action was with the Cisco VIRL team. My colleague Joel Obstfeld was showing VIRL in action and v6 is fully supported by VIRL which was on clear show in the WoS. See Joel here alongside the VIRL demo and the IPv6 enabled sticker is on clear view.

onePK provides IPv6 capabilities and were demonstrating this. Jason Pfeifer is seen here alongside his demonstration on the Cisco stand bearing the IPv6 enabled logo.

Cisco Prime also has extensive support for IPv6. I found my colleague Gilles Clugnac demonstrating these capabilities and we identified his demonstration as being IPv6 enabled.

Then I talked to some of the Partners:

  • Citrix Nestcaler provides server load balancing for IPv6 and provides an IPv6 proxy function that allows Data Centre’s and hosted web server to enable a dual stack presence. I met Charles and David on the Citrix stand and they showed me v6 in operation.
  • APCON was showing their Network Monitoring technologies which were fully v6 enabled. Timothy Kcechowski showed me this in operation on the APCON stand and we placed the IPv6 enabled logo on their demo.
  • Netformix has a suite of tools that have long supported IPv6 and they were also happily showing v6 in action. This picture shows Justin Giffen and Mario Oliver alongside the Netformix platform with the IPv6 enabled logo on display.
  • SevOne provides Network Performance Management tools for Big Data. Jason Smith demonstrated this to me and here is his picture alongside their stand with the IPv6 enabled logo on display.
  • Infoblox has a fully featured IPAM/DHCP solution and it is fully capable of IPv6 support. This platform was on display on the Infoblox stand and Ken Crozier showed me IPv6 in operation.
  • Network Instruments provide Monitoring and Analysis tools. They were IPv6 enabled and received their sticker. Here you can see Charles Thompson on the Network Instruments stand alongside the monitor showing the IPv6 enabled logo.

I had a great time meeting old and new friends and spent many an hour in very interesting meetings trying to help move IPv6 forward inside our customer networks. I look forward to Cisco Live in Milan in early 2015 when I hope to be able to place more IPv6 enabled stickers. See you there!

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Autonomic Networking: Where Do We Go From Here?

It’s great to be back at another Cisco Live event, this time in the great city of San Francisco.  This is the last day of the event, and if you have some time, please do stop over at the World of Solutions, where you can see Autonomic Networking in action.  We have set up a live demo of the Autonomic Networking Infrastructure (ANI) at the Service Provider area!  The following figure shows a summary of the functionality, and i’d like to refer you to a previous blog for a more thorough explanation.


Summarising, the ANI allows networks to grow and self-organize organically, merely by  devices at the edge of the Autonomic Domain joining the Autonomic Control Plane.  A new device is cabled up and powered up and will be discovered by a  device at the edge of the Autonomic Domain/Network through the Channel Discovery Process.  The new device offers its identity to the Network, and the Network, after successful authentication, will deliver a Domain Certificate to the New Device as a result, and this is achieved using the Adjacency Discovery Process.  The New Device can then leverage this Domain Certificate to join the Autonomic Control Plane (ACP), which is essentially an IPv6 based, routed IP infrastructure that is secure/encrypted, self-organising and self-healing, and which cannot be de-configured and is not prone to mis-configurations. Read More »

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Cisco Live 2014……IPv6 Is Everywhere!

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It is so great to be back in one of my favourite cities – San Francisco ! It is particularly great to be here for one of my all time favourite events – Cisco Live. This year of course is very special being the 25th anniversary. It is particularly exciting to see so much great innovation and energy being generated all over the event and not least of which by the World of Solutions. Read More »

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