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Putting Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence into High Gear: More Startup Innovations for the Internet of Everything

Cisco’s leadership in the emerging market for the Internet of Everything (IoE), Smart Cities and Big Data/analytics rests on our ability to harness the technologies and business models of our global partner ecosystem – especially those of early-stage startups who are building truly disruptive capabilities for the future. I previously shared my vision of Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (Cisco EIR) pioneering new ways for Cisco, already a successful innovator in the global IT space, to collaborate with innovative entrepreneurs in shaping the emerging technologies that will redefine our industry and change our lives. Since then, six startups joined our first incubation track last spring in Silicon Valley and began collaborating closely with Cisco business and engineering groups to co-create solutions for Cisco’s customers and partners. I shared various updates in the following months about the EIR program’s exciting milestones adding co-incubation partners across the US, taking the program to Europe and selecting the first startups to join our program there.

Today, I am pleased to share two more milestones marking the continued success of our open innovation strategy at Cisco, with Cisco EIR helping to lead the way.

Cisco EIR Demo Day 2014

On December 8th, 2014, we celebrated the successes of the startups in our inaugural cohort with our first Cisco EIR Demo Day (photos) a gathering of over 100 attendees, including Cisco business and technology leaders, VCs, partners and others from the Silicon Valley startup community.

Read More »

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Social Best Practices for Events and Conferences

Tradeshows and events are practically synonymous with the technology industry – after all our industry produces some of the largest ones in the world. Whether it’s unveiling new products or participating in keynote sessions, today’s conference experience does not begin and end on the show room floor.

Rather, social media is the heartbeat of the event – shaping how attendees, partners, influencers and customers experience the show in real-time.

In my role at Cisco, I’ve seen first hand how the power of social media can drive the tradeshow experience. Whether it’s hosting a tradeshow, such as Cisco Live, or participating in an industry event, here are some social media best practices to consider as you prepare for your next show:

Social in Command

In 2013, we debuted the Cisco Live Social Media Hub – the first-of-its-kind social command center. The Social Media Hub not only monitors and reports on event and industry conversations, but also offers deep insights into how in-person attendees and external audience members engage before, during and after with the show.

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For example, since the Hub is staffed with social media engagement experts, graphic designers, analytics specialists and logistics personnel, we can capture real-time data trends and use the insights to guide the development of engaging content and socially shared graphics.

The results have been nothing short of astounding:

  • On average, the number of impressions generated per day during Cisco Live US 2014 (#CLUS) totaled nearly 59 million.
  • Comparing the use of #CLUS in 2013 vs. 2014: #CLUS was used 35,500 times in 2013 and 47,365 times in 2014; an increase of over 33% year-over-year.
  • Two Cisco executives Trended NATIONALLY on Twitter during their keynote with the high volume of social engagement; all organic – no paid.

Recently, we have begun rolling out localized versions of the Hub to support other Cisco Live events around the world, such as Cisco Live Melbourne (#CLMel) in March. Although smaller in scale, the localized versions pack a serious social punch – bringing participants closer to the action than ever before.

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Stealing the Social Show

It might be easy for Cisco to be front and center in social conversations at our own events, but how can we rise above the noise and make a social impact at some of the largest tech tradeshows around the globe, such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and Mobile World Congress (MWC)?

Our teams have seen stellar results from engaging live-tweets, the development of real-time content creation, such as videos and graphics for social sharing and more.

For example, as a result of our social media efforts at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Cisco received a total of 4,002 conversations, with an estimated 13.8 million impressions! These figures support the fact that strategic and insightful social content can help brands stay top-of-mind in a highly-competitive social environment.

Stay tuned as I share more social media best practices in future posts. In the meantime, be sure to leave a comment and share your thoughts about what makes social media a success at tradeshows and events.

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Revisit Mobility Moments at Cisco Live Milan

Well, CiscoLive Milan 2015 is behind us…..but hopefully the energy and insights you took away from it stay with you – at least till next CiscoLive. Our attendees rated it as our most successful CiscoLive EMEAR ever……and having been to a few of them myself I’d happily agree!

I had the opportunity to speak with many attendees at the World of Solutions, both on the guided tours and also at the mobility demos. The overall impression I got from speaking with you is that you are as excited (and challenged) as we are about the dramatic changes going on in IT. The transformation of IT has moved from hype to reality – and many of you at CiscoLive are the ones being asked by your company to make these changes happen.

Now, whether you attended Live and missed a session – or you were not in Milan at all – you can still check out many of the keynotes and sessions on-line.

One of the highlights was the Enterprise Networking Trends keynote Read More »

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IoT’s Prominence at Cisco Live Milan

The Internet of Things (IoT) was a hot topic at Cisco Live last week in Milan. I got to spend a lot of time with customers, partners, and developers, and came home impressed by the tremendous focus on IoT applications. There is an enormous amount of energy directed at building on the foundation Cisco is creating.

If you weren’t able to join us in Milan, here is my list of the week’s highlights.

The opening day keynote Read More »

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VXLAN/EVPN: Standards based Overlay with Control-Plane

Given the tremendous interest in VXLAN with MP-BGP based EVPN Control-Plane (short EVPN) at Cisco Live in Milan, I decided to write a “short” technology brief blog post on this topic.

VXLAN (IETF RFC7348) has been designed to solve specific problems faced with Classical Ethernet for a few decades now. By introducing an abstraction through encapsulation, VXLAN has become the de-facto standard overlay of choice in the industry. Chief among the advantages provided by VXLAN; extension of the todays limited VLAN space and the increase in the scalability provided for Layer-2 Domains.

Extended Namespace – The available VLAN space from the IEEE 802.1Q encapsulation perspective is limited to a 12-bit field, which provides 4096 VLANs or segments. By encapsulating the original Ethernet frame with a VXLAN header, the newly introduced addressing field offers 24-bits, thereby providing a much larger namespace with up to 16 Million Virtual Network Identifiers (VNIs) or segments.

 

 

 

While the VXLAN VNI allows unique identification of a large number of tenant segments which is especially useful in high-scale multi-tenant deployments, the problems and requirements of large Layer-2 Domains are not sufficiently addressed. However, significant improvements in the following areas have been achieved:

  • No dependency on Spanning-Tree protocol by leveraging Layer-3 routing protocols
  • Layer-3 routing with Equal Cost Multi-Path (ECMP) allows all available links to be used
  • Scalability, convergence, and resiliency of a Layer-3 network
  • Isolation of Broadcast and Failure Domains

IETF RFC7348 – VXLAN: A Framework for Overlaying Virtualized Layer 2 Networks over Layer 3 Networks

Scalable Layer-2 Domains

The abstraction by using a VXLAN-like overlay does not inherently change the Flood & Learn behavior introduced by Ethernet. In typical deployments of VXLAN, BUM (Broadcast, Unicast, Multicast) traffic is forwarded via layer-3 multicast in the underlay that in turn aids in the learning process so that subsequent traffic need not be subjected to this “flood” semantic. A control-plane is required to minimize the flood behavior and proactively distribute End-Host information to participating entities (typically called Virtual Tunnel End Points aka VTEPs) in the same segment – learning.

Control-plane protocols are mostly employed in the layer-3 routing space where predominantly IP prefix information is exchanged. Over the past years, some of the well-known routing protocols have been extended to also learn and exchange Layer-2 MAC addresses. An early technology adoption with MAC addresses in a routing-protocol was Cisco’s OTV (Overlay Transport Virtualization), which employed IS-IS to significantly reduce flooding across Data Center Interconnects (DCI).

Multi-Protocol BGP (MP-BGP) introduced a new Network Layer Reachability Information (NLRI) to carry both, Layer-2 MAC and Layer-3 IP information at the same time. By having the combined set of MAC and IP information available for forwarding decisions, optimized routing and switching within a network becomes feasible and the need for flood to do learning get minimized or even eliminated. This extension that allows BGP to transport Layer-2 MAC and Layer-3 IP information is called EVPN – Ethernet Virtual Private Network.

EVPN is documented in the following IETF drafts

Integrated Route and Bridge (IRB) – VXLAN-EVPN offers significant advantages in Overlay networking by optimizing forwarding decision within the network based on Layer-2 MAC as well as Layer-3 IP information. The decision on forwarding via routing or switching can be done as close as possible to the End-Host, on any given Leaf/ToR (Top-of-Rack) Switch. The Leaf Switch provides the Distributed Anycast Gateway for routing, which acts completely stateless and does not require the exchange of protocol signalization for election or failover decision. All the reachability information available within the BGP control-plane is sufficient to provide the gateway service. The Distributed Anycast Gateway also provides integrated routing and bridging (IRB) decision at the Leaf Switch, which can be extended across a significant number of nodes. All the Leaf Switches host active default gateways for their respective configured subnets; the well known semantic of First Hop Routing Protocols (FHRP) with active/standby does not apply anymore.

Summary – The advantages provided by a VXLAN-EVPN solution are briefly summarized as follows:

  • Standards based Overlay (VXLAN) with Standards based Control-Plane (BGP)
  • Layer-2 MAC and Layer-3 IP information distribution by Control-Plane (BGP)
  • Forwarding decision based on Control-Plane (minimizes flooding)
  • Integrated Routing/Bridging (IRB) for Optimized Forwarding in the Overlay
  • Leverages Layer-3 ECMP – all links forwarding – in the Underlay
  • Significantly larger Name-Space in the Overlay (16M segments)
  • Integration of Physical and Virtual Networks with Hybrid Overlays
  • It facilitates Software-Defined-Networking (SDN)

Simply formulated, VXLAN-EVPN provides a standards-based Overlay that supports Segmentation, Host Mobility, and High Scale.

VXLAN-EVPN is available on Nexus 9300 (NX-OS 7.0) with  Nexus 7000/7700 (F3 linecards) to follow in the upcoming major release. Additional Data Center Switching platforms, like the Nexus 5600, will follow shortly after.

A detailed whitepaper on this topic is available on Cisco.com. In addition, VXLAN-EVPN was featured during the following Cisco Live! Sessions.

Do you have appetite for more? Post a comment, tweet about it and have the conversation going … Thanks for reading and Happy Networking!

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