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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.

ANI

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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Touching / Seeing / Feeling IPv6 in the World of Solutions at Cisco Live Milan

As Cisco Live Europe 2014 draws to a close I wanted to reflect on what has (for me) been a personal campaign to raise the visibility of IPv6 in the World of Solutions / WoS (the demonstration / show floor of the event)

Last year at Cisco Live London I heard some comments that there was not enough IPv6 in the WoS. I decided to see if I could encourage Cisco Business Units and Partners to enable demonstrations for Dual Stack operation and highlight that fact. I wrote previously we would be “awarding” an “IPv6 Enabled Logo” to all Cisco and Partner demonstrations that took the step of enabling Dual Stack and highlighting the same fact.

How did we fare ? Cisco Live 2014 Milano showcased over 15 IPv6 enabled demonstrations including two which were enabled as “IPv6 only”. These were spread between Cisco and Partner booths and were mainly marked with the newly created green “IPv6 Enabled Logo”.

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 18.47.38

I personally visited a number:

Read More »

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Autonomic Networking at Cisco Live Milano!

Welcome to Milano!

Wow, what an activity on the first day at the Cisco Campus / World of Solutions. It’s great to see all these people thirsty for knowledge, and all these people looking for intelligent solutions for their business needs.

One of those business needs is removing complexity from networks by making networks self-managing, or in other words Autonomic Networking.  2014 will be the year that we are shipping the first sets of functionality in this space, so that makes us really exited.  After all we have been working on this for more than 3 years internally, and its great to finally see the fruits of that hard work.

Michael has explained in his blog that Autonomics is all around us, but until now there wasn’t a solution that allowed other applications to leverage a common autonomic infrastructure.  Finally it is here!  The Autonomic Networking Infrastructure allows Service Providers to bootstrap new devices completely zero touch, in a secure fashion, without pre-staging the devices and/or a back-end DHCP Server, and this totally topology independent!  Just plug in the device, and watch it getting authenticated, receiving a Domain Certificate, joining the Autonomic Domain, and joining the Autonomic Control Plane, which provides indestructible IPv6 end-to-end connectivity!  If an mdns-enabled TFTP server is connected to the network, it will leverage the Autonomic Control Plane to announce its service, upon which the devices will pull in their configuration! 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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Autonomic Networking – From Theory to Practice

Autonomic Networking is well understood in theory, but real, consistent and extensible implementations don’t exist. In this post I suggest a reason for the lack in execution, and our vision to provide a working, implementable Autonomic Networking Architecture.

Wipe off the dust…

When asking a researcher about autonomic systems, (s)he might blow the dust off a stack of papers, or proudly pull a couple of old books off his shelf. Or point to IBM’s IEEE paper from 2003. From a research perspective, autonomics is well understood. It’s this self-management thing, with all those self-* properties. Self-configuration and self-optimisation for example. Distribution, control loops, and so on. Even the Wikipedia articles are written. So, we’re done, aren’t we?

No we’re not.

Ask your friendly neighbourhood network engineers about Autonomic Networking. The one that proudly hacks expect scripts at night to make his admin database talk to his routers. Or the front line engineer who applies a network service class to one of his customers. Likely, both of them would look at you with big eyes, and after explaining that the network manages itself, intelligently, you’d hear back: “That’s like Skynet, isn’t it?”

No it’s not. Read More »

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