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Networking Field Day 5: SDN and Unicorn Blood

March 10, 2013 at 11:51 pm PST

So, we wrapped up our day with the Networking Field Day crew last week with a free form discussion on where we go next with SDN.  To be honest, the session did not go quite as I envisioned, but, in retrospect, I would not changed anything.  As Ethan Banks (of PacketPushers fame) noted in Twitter, this session was more about shooting the unicorns than letting them run free.  It seems that if we are going to convert our SDN unicorns into SDN plough horses, we are going to shed a little blood.  At the end of the day, the market will be served by frank conversations—we need to move beyond painting SDN acolytes as starry-eyed and SDN detractors as being heretical and reactionary.

In the interest of keeping the conversation going, here are some of the things I walked away with after the conversation on Wednesday (in no particular order):

Is Hardware Innovation is Over?

This industry has always been one big pendulum and, currently, the pendulum is firmly in the software camp.  Today, many of the truly interesting things in networking are going on with software.  While most would agree we are at an inflection point with programmability, there are no clear directions for the evolution of SDN.  Certainly there are pieces in place like OpenFlow and OpenStack, but OF 1.3 in unlikely to be the zenith of OF evolution let alone SDN evolution—current technologies will continue to mature and new ones will inevitably emerge.  More importantly, the “how we do things” and “what do want to accomplish” of SDN will most certainly continue to evolve and as long as that is the case, software will rule because it’s simply easier and faster to experiment with software.  But, once some clear directions begin to emerge, I guarantee you the action will swing back towards the hardware because doing things in hardware tends to be faster and more efficient.  I could point to Cisco examples of this, but instead look at what Intel, the poster child for general purpose processors, has done with VT extensions to support virtualization or QuickSync for video transcoding.

Is OpenFlow Ready for PrimeTime?

wile-e-coyote

One of the more contentious points yesterday is if OpenFlow is production ready.  I think it’s a flawed “do these jeans make me e look fat” kind of question.  There are certainly folks out there using OF to handle production traffic—for example, some of the cool things Brent Salisbury is doing.  So, it’s not a binary question, but more a matter of assessing scope and scale. The better question to ask is what is the operational and performance envelope of OpenFlow and how does that match my needs, priorities, and capabilities. The risk with any emerging technology is that, often, the only way you find the edge of the envelope is once you’re on the other side, usually with colorful and memorable results. Regardless, I don’t see this question existing in another year or so.

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Valentine’s Day Webcast – “An Introduction to OpenFlow”

What better way to spend Valentine’s day than to watch a webcast on OpenFlow and SDN, perhaps with your significant other? The last couple of years have seen considerable buzz around aspects of software-defined networking.  A significant portion of the early seed discussion was around OpenFlow.  As part of the Cisco Open Network Environment webcast series, this time on February 14th, 2013 at 9 AM PST, we take look at an :Introduction to OpenFlow”: What is it? How does it work? What are some of the potential use-cases?

Joining me in this discussion with be David Ward, Cisco CTO of Engineering and Chief Architect. At the time of recording David also wears the hat of the being the Chair of the Technical Advisory Group at Open Network Foundation (ONF). So he brings perspectives both as someone who’s driving the evolution of the protocol, as well as somebody guiding its implementation across several products within the Cisco portfolio.

Also joining the webcast to lend end-user perspectives will be Matt Davy, who is formerly of Indiana University, having been the executive director of the INCenter facility there. Matt’s recently moved onto a new role, but he built a lighthouse test bed around OpenFlow and SDN the last few years during this employment at the university. Matt will talk about campus slicing and his experiences around OpenFlow.  Providing service provider perspectives from NTT communications will be Yuichi Ikejiri, Director of the Network Technology Services division.

Trio

Register here for this webcast:

As mentioned before, this is part of an educational series. If you’ve not watched the first in the series, entitled “An Introduction to OpenStack” – please feel free to register and watch it here.  The panel of Lew Tucker and Raj Patel below provide interesting perspectives on OpenStack.

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Unified Fabric: Helping Partners Deliver Innovative Cloud and Data Center Solutions

February 5, 2013 at 7:21 am PST

As the saying goes, “Change is the only constant.” And as partners have seen, customers are constantly grappling with a love-hate relationship between applications and networking. As new applications appear, the infrastructure is required to evolve, which brings about a whole new wave of application innovation that then forces the infrastructure to evolve again and again. This endless cycle has played itself out as applications transitioned from mainframes to client/server to web and now to cloud.

Cisco is extending the capabilities of Unified Fabric to support a world of many clouds with the scalability and flexibility of the new Nexus 6000 series, the traffic insight of Nexus 7000 NAM, Nexus 1000V InterCloud and VNMC InterCloud hybrid cloud solutions and updates to the Cisco ONE portfolio including the new Cisco ONE Controller.

These upgrades will help your customers protect their investments because it can easily be extended to accommodate new applications and usage models as they emerge, allowing customers to shift from “infrastructure defining what apps can do” to “apps defining what infrastructure must do.”

Here are some highlights of the new offerings:  Read More »

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Cisco Launches Nexus 1000V InterCloud – Part 2 (VNMC InterCloud)

February 5, 2013 at 4:00 am PST

This week, as part of a major cloud launch that also introduced the Nexus 6000 series and updates to our Cisco ONE portfolio, Cisco unveiled its Nexus 1000V InterCloud solution, which provides a seamless and secure extension of virtual networks from on-premises data centers to cloud service providers. In part 1 of our introductory blog series to this new technology, we discussed the architecture and components of Nexus 1000V InterCloud for creating secure, on-demand virtual private cloud (VPC) containers in a hybrid cloud.  In a pre-launch post earlier in January, we looked at some new Forrester research data on hybrid cloud business drivers and how some organizations were looking to overcome the challenges to real hybrid cloud integration. Today, in part 2 of our InterCloud series, we are going into more depth about the hybrid cloud management component, Virtual Network Management Center (VNMC) InterCloud.

VNMC InterCloud provides a single pane view of VM and cloud resources across the on-premises resources and those at the cloud provider. It interfaces to orchestration tools and service provider management systems, as well as virtual machine managers.

VNMC InterCloud provides a single pane view of VM and cloud resources across the on-premises resources and those at the cloud provider. It interfaces to orchestration tools and service provider management systems, as well as virtual machine managers.

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Introducing Nexus 6000 Series – Industry’s Highest Density Layer 2/3 40 Gigabit Fixed Switch

The evolution of the applications environment is creating new demands on IT and in the data center. Broad adoption of scale-out application architectures (i.e. big data), workload virtualization and cloud deployments are demanding greater scalability across the fabric. The increase in east/west (i.e. server-to-server) traffic along with the higher adoption of 10GbE in the server access layer is driving higher bandwidth requirements in the upstream links.

Following up on the introduction of 40GE/100GE on the Nexus 7000 Series, today we unveil the new Nexus 6000 Series, expanding Cisco’s Unified Fabric data center switching portfolio in order to provide greater deployment flexibility through higher density and scalability in an energy efficient form factor.  

The Cisco Nexus 6000 Series is industry’s highest density full-featured Layer 2 / Layer 3 40 Gigabit data center fixed switch with Ethernet and Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) – an industry first!In addition to high scalability, Nexus 6000 Series offers operational efficiency, superior visibility and agility 

Some say “Nexus 6000 Series is a red carpet platform that will turn heads”. We agree! It’s because of …

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