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Get Started on SDN and Cisco ONE: Learn from Our New Technical White Paper

If you were to believe the industry press, you could easily be forgiven for thinking that many companies across the world were rolling software defined networking (SDN) technologies into their networks today.  I’m part of Cisco’s Services team and my colleagues across the world are the experts in helping you all design and deploy networks.  If there is a large or complex leading (or bleeding!) edge network out there being designed, you can place a safe bet that someone from the Cisco Services team is involved helping our customers achieve their targets.  If you’re involved in deploying any type of high technology equipment, you’ll appreciate that there is a world of difference between selling, demoing, and actually making it all work in your environment when it comes to new technology. Our team are in the latter camp.

So what are our consultants telling me about SDN in the real world?  Excluding a few notable high profile cases (usually involving hyper-scale data centers) they are not seeing – as yet, to be honest – many early deployments.  However they are seeing a growing number of customers interest in learning about and evaluating SDN related technologies – including Cisco ONE, NFV and in particular Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).  And they are providing some early feedback on the use cases of SDN that customers are most interested in.  They are all clear, however, on this point: this is the time to learn what SDN and Cisco ONE can do for your network in the future.

So how do you get started in SDN?  Let me outline 5 key steps to help you get started.  I’ll also point you to a technical white paper written by Mitch Mitchiner and Reema Prasad, two of our Customer Solutions Architects in Cisco Services, two of our experts responsible for making all of this work for you, your team and your business.  I also recommend you check out the video link I’ve provided, for an excellent live demo of Cisco ONE technology, first presented at Cisco Live last year.  This video gives a live demo of latency-based routing, one of the use cases described in Mitch and Reema’s paper.

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Programmability in Python: Confessions of a Networking Guy

I am not qualified to discuss it much, but can you guess what this does?

     ne = NetworkElement("172.16.66.1", "JasonsApp")
     conn = ne.connect("admin", "cisco", sc)
     intf1 = ne.get_interface_by_name("FastEthernet0/1")
     intf1.shut_down(1)
     sleep(5)
     intf1.shut_down(0)

 

If you guessed that it logs into a switch at 172.16.66.1 and disables interface F0/1 for 5 seconds and re-enables it, then you guessed right.

Let us talk a little about putting the “ability” in programmability.  Did I code in college? Yes. Was I good at it? Not really. Dijksta’s algorithm (the actual coding bit) drove me crazy, however, actually using and operating networks quickly became my cup of tea. I became a network geek. Subnets? Awesome! Cisco CLI? Sweet. Using Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol (EIGRP)? Yay! AVVID? Even better. But I never wanted to see C++ or another “program” again.

Fast forward to 2014.  I’m still a networking guy but now I’m seeing code again.  The good news is, maybe like you, I hang out with some really cool people. I challenged a couple of them to help me demonstrate program “ability” to networking people on the show floor at CiscoLive Milan…with me as the test subject! Read More »

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Cisco Announces Breakthrough Hybrid Cloud Solutions

Cisco’s vision for ‘The World of Many Clouds’™ drove us to a leading position in the Cloud Market:

  • Cloud infrastructure equipment sales: Ranked #1 in the industry three quarters in a row by Synergy Research for Q3 2013
  • According to IDC analysts and buyer perception, Cisco is an IDC MarketScape “Major Player” worldwide. (IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Cloud Professional Services 2013 Vendor Analysis)
  • Cisco named a “Strong Performer” and earns top marks on strategy for strategic vision and roadmap in private cloud software solutions (The Forrester WaveTM: Private Cloud Solutions, Q4 2013, Forrester Research, Inc.)

On January 28, at Cisco Live! in Milan, we announced important extensions to our Cloud Portfolio.

In this fast evolving cloud market, customers require flexible solutions to extend their infrastructure, take advantage of public cloud services and optimize their sourcing options, while maintaining consistent policy and security mechanisms.

Use cases like Test and Develop, Capacity Augmentation and Disaster Recovery require customers to integrate internally sourced services with public cloud and virtual private cloud services. Business leaders are realizing that the use of public cloud services needs be to standardized by IT to manage escalating costs, security risks and compliance requirements.

Enterprises and public sector institutions are eager to embrace a hybrid cloud model, but current approaches offered by large public cloud providers are proprietary and lock customers into their way of consumption. Other hybrid cloud approaches require customer to have a consistent hypervisor environment.

Customers want to make hybrid cloud the new normal, and they expect to do it with choice, consistency, control and compliance.

Our new Cisco InterCloud solution accomplishes all that – it enables bi-directional secure workload mobility to and from any supported or participating cloud provider, is hypervisor agnostic and it works with heterogeneous infrastructures. Depending on your IT and business requirements you can now move your data and applications to the Public Cloud with end-to-end security.

At the same time, Cisco InterCloud allows cloud providers to lower the barrier to public and virtual private cloud adoption, and easily extend their customers encapsulated data center into the public cloud with consistent network and security policies.

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New Year, New Challenges, New Successes: SDN Bringing Agility, Security and TCO to Campus and Branch Networks

Before recently taking on a new role as Cisco’s vice president and general manager of Software-Defined Network (SDN) with the enterprise networking group, I served as the vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Unified Access portfolio and led the expansion of the Catalyst 2k, 3k and 4k series product line, which has seen a lot of growth and developed a strong customer base over the past couple of years. Cisco invests heavily in R&D for these products, and has introduced many innovations improving security, application visibility/control, energy savings and converged wired and wireless infrastructure over the past few years.

But as I shifted into my new role and looked back at some of the new Unified Access solutions we introduced alongside our system architecture, I saw a curious disconnect: in some cases, it was getting more difficult for our customers to quickly take advantage of our new innovations.                                                                                                         

At Cisco, we design products to make customers’ lives easier and more productive. Not to gather dust because they’re too hard to figure out!

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Is ACI Really SDN? One Point of View to Clarify the Conversation

rose

Would SDN, by any other name, still smell as sweet?

Perhaps I’m in the minority that is still frustrated by this, but as a marketing person who is tasked with explaining technology and solutions to customers and prospects, I feel hamstrung by a lack of a widely agreed upon definition of what is and is not “SDN” still. This usually comes up in discussions about our new Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), and how it compares to traditional SDN concepts, as well as alternative approaches, such as overlay networks advocated by VMware.

The topic came up again this week with a NetworkWorld article in which the head of VMware’s network virtualization business is now saying, “SDN will never happen” (our rebuttal). Well, what is happening, if it’s not SDN? Or just because the technology has evolved, do we need to create a new term just because some early assumptions the industry made have changed?  As we start out a new year, I thought it a good time to try and reframe the definition, and look at how the trends in SDN may be shaping up to extend the concept into new areas.

Why do customers need SDN?

By early 2012, there was so much hype and expectations around Software Defined Networking, focused on the ability to “program” the network, that real customer use cases and the killer SDN app was lost in the conversation. But what slowly emerged, that is driving all the investment, pilots and product designs is a much better way to manage the data center and cloud network, and to automate IT tasks so that the infrastructure could respond dynamically to rapidly changing business conditions and requirements. The “intelligence” to make all that happen is moving from the network devices and device management consoles, to centralized policy-management platforms, orchestration tools and cloud-managers.

What’s caused the biggest evolution in SDN is the realization that very few organizations really have the desire, skills and incentives to write a new class of applications to a published API to program the network. These users are outlying use cases compared to the vast majority of organizations just looking to automate IT tasks, accelerate application deployment, make their cloud networks more flexible, and better align their IT infrastructure with business requirements. The focus has shifted from SDN being an open API/controller platform, to a platform capable of hosting a myriad of orchestration and IT workflow automation solutions that drive customers to their end goal. To that end, ACI is meeting all those objectives, and in more advanced and innovative ways than earlier SDN approaches.

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