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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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DO NOT PANIC: Autonomic Networking is on the Horizon!

dontpanic

By looking at the sheer amount of Breakouts and technical sessions here at Cisco Live London, it isn’t hard to understand why networks are becoming more and more complex.  Networks are converging onto single infrastructures, more and more business processes are becoming more network centric and this translates into more functionality and more dependencies between functions and network layers, and thus more complexity.  It becomes very hard for a single human being to understand these dependencies and layer interactions in order to do per-box configuration.  Typically this problem is attempted to be ‘solved’ by moving some of these dependencies and layer interactions into a central place, but that just moves the problem.  Wouldn’t it be cool to allow networks to become self-aware, such that they can learn from their neighboring nodes ? Read More »

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