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Top Things to Know About DFA Before Cisco Live Milan

January 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm PST

Two weeks ago, I presented a webinar on Dynamic Fabric Automation (DFA) and went over the allocated 1 hour to cover the content.  Yesterday, as I was doing follow up with a hands-on demo, I went over time too. This illustrates how rich DFA is, and how much there is to say about it! Dynamic Fabric Automation is an environment for data center automation that is centered on the CPOM (Central Point of Management), a set of services that are provided with the new Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) release 7.0(1).

The services available on the CPOM provide the following:

  1. Power On Auto Provisioning (POAP)
  2. Inter-switch link connection verification
  3. A single console for configuration
  4. Network Auto-Config Profile provisioning
  5. Message processing for external orchestrator
  6. Automatic host provisioning
  7. Embedded management for network monitoring and data collection

All of these services are provided using standard protocols and applications. For example, the POAP service uses DHCP, TFTP and SCP/SFTP, but using a combination of templates and a very intuitive and easy-to-use GUI, DCNM provides a simplified and systematic way of bringing up your data center fabric. The inter-switch link validation or cable consistency check allows the operator to verify the fabric connections against a predefined template and prevent unexpected connections to come up.

The Jabber process provides the single console for configuration, statistics and troubleshooting. Using any XMPP client, an operator can “chat” with the fabric devices; this approach offers the possibility to organize devices in chat groups that match their role, their location or simply some administrative set. With XMPP, a single command can be sent to multiple devices in a secure way.

The most important element of the CPOM is certainly the network profile provisioning. Read More »

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Building a useable Autonomic Networking Infrastructure from the Ground Up

Yep, that’s what we did, and yes we are shipping it today!

As Michael’s blog explained, autonomics are all around us, both in feature implementation (e.g. a routing protocol like OSPF) as well as in architectural frameworks like GANA.  But while the former has created isolated, per feature domains of autonomicity, the latter has never really resulted into a useable implementation used by a network engineer to date!

Lets go back to what we said out the vision of Autonomic Networking was going to be, as in the below figure, which I essentially repeated from my DON’T PANIC blog. The observant reader  will notice that I changed the term ‘simple management tools’ into ‘SDN/NMS Controller across a simplified northbound interface’.  After all we can’t ignore markets trends like SDN.

Autonomic Networking: The Vision

The vision remains the same whether you use an iPAD versus a super-duper controller though: you ingest a network wide behavior into the  network, as we can model the totality of the network in an abstract, location-independent, network-wide manner.  Autonomic Processes turn this network wide behavior into local state, and might invoke control loops between nodes to do this effectively.  This ultimately results into the good-ole legacy network protocols to become self-managing, without changing the protocols themselves.  Genius! But how do we get there in practice?  And can customers trust us to do the right thing from day 1? Read More »

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Quitting the Legacy IP at Cisco Live Milan

It’s that time of the year again -- time for some computer and human networking at Cisco Live Milan! This year I’m taking the unusual and somewhat risky step of blogging about the network infrastructure before the event. This is because we’re going to try something interesting for the networking folks. We are going to try and get rid of the Legacy IP, otherwise known as IPv4.

Before you get too worried -- no, the dual stack network setup does not disappear. Lots of critical parts of our everyday lives still need the old and proven protocol to successfully operate, so removing it would be irresponsible to say the least. But some of you may be interested to try (in a controlled fashion) exactly how strong the ties to the old good legacy. If you are one of these people, this post is for you -- because this blog entry is one of the few places, if not the only one, to find the IPv6-only SSID name and access credentials.

First of all, what’s the big deal with IPv6-only access network, wasn’t this tried before?

Sure, it is not all new. The first time we tried an IPv6-only network was at IPv6 World Congress conference in Paris, early spring 2012. We also had an IPv6-only SSID in one of the Cisco Live US conferences. We discovered that the subset of the operating systems that could successfully operate in this kind of environment was pretty small. But as time passed, evidence suggests the situation was slowly improving. Read More »

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IPv6 is Everywhere at Cisco Live Milan

IPv6 deployment is accelerating at a fast pace. It’s exciting to see that the global IPv6 deployment figures show a continuing upward trend:

IPv6_projection

Cisco has been helping the Industry track this trend with our global deployment statistics portal: http://6lab.cisco.com/stats/. Go to the portal today and you can even follow @cisco6lab on Twitter.

IPv6 Lab

We are also showcasing our IPv6 deployment adoption later this month at the annual Cisco Live Europe event in Milan. We are proud to announce that IPv6 content and demonstrations will be key features at our event from the show room floor to technical sessions, breakouts, panels, labs, and more. Read More »

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Hitchhiker’s Guide to onePK

Cisco Live Milan is around the corner and I’m getting my session, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to onePK, ready for it’s European debut.  While it’s lovely to be in the CiscoLive Distinguished Speaker Hall of Fame, putting a good presentation together hasn’t gotten any easier.  The hard questions still need to be asked:  Do I have too many slides?  Have I crossed the line between technical and boring?  Will the demos work?  Will anyone laugh at my jokes?

And perhaps most importantly for this session: does anyone read Douglas Adams any more?

Here’s why.  I borrowed the title of Douglas Adam’s iconic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for good reason.  The original Hitchhiker’s Guide follows an ordinary guy, Arthur Dent, as he is unwillingly dragged into an intra-galactic adventure, with little more than the Guide, a pint of beer and a packet of peanuts to see him through.  Faced with the vast and confusing world of Software Defined Networking (SDN) and programmability, network engineers are in a position to know exactly how Arthur Dent felt.  New buzzwords, emerging standards, an abundance of marketing slides with vague but brightly colored blobs, and a lot of talk about programming languages can be disorienting to the best of us.

Enter the Hitchhiker’s Guide to onePK.

Notice that I did not call my session the Hitchhiker’s Guide to SDN.  SDN calls for more of an Encyclopedia Galactica than a Hitchhiker’s Guide, if you know what I mean.  Instead, my aim is to take a deep dive into one aspect of network programmability that network engineers can really relate to: onePK. Read More »

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