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Will Software Defined Networking Actually Happen?

As a writer for the IT media, conference speaker, and co-host of the Packet Pushers podcast, I cover emerging networking technologies often. The new tech that comes across my screen ranges in value from “I can’t believe that got funded,” to “Why has no one thought of this before?” and everything in between. As a big idea, software defined networking (SDN) seems to generate about that same range of responses from network engineers. Some networkers think that SDN is an extraordinary technology that’s going to change the world of IT. Others see SDN as yet another in a long string of quirky networking ideas that never gained acceptance. In fact, as I’ve read responses to my SDN-related content over the last few years, I believe that more folks are in that latter camp. SDN is a fad. SDN is a buzzword. SDN will go nowhere useful. SDN will eventually fail to have a universal impact.

I understand the cynicism. After all, for a long time, networking had lapsed in an innovation coma, with nothing especially exciting coming along to really shake things up. Yes, Ethernet’s gotten faster. And that BYOD thing got everyone excited a couple of years ago. But for the most part, we design, build, and operate networks the same way today that we did fifteen or more years ago. The core underlying protocols have grown up or had new knobs and levers added, but generally speaking, if a networker of the past fell out of a time warp and into a design project today, it wouldn’t take them too terribly long to catch up. Read More »

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Providing the Right Platform is Sometimes All it Takes

Change is the only constant. Except that it isn’t; constant that is. We are seeing changes to IT services, infrastructure, eco-systems, and business models, with consequent demands and expectations that we have not witnessed before. Cisco is responding to all of this with new technologies for the DevOps community, including APIs, development tools, training and more, all of which I discuss below.

The Economist likens this to the Cambrian era that saw the multiplication of life forms that populate our world today: “… this time is … different, in an important way. Today’s entrepreneurial boom is based on more solid foundations than the 1990s internet bubble, which makes it more likely to continue for the foreseeable future.”

What has made this possible, which the Economist illustrates with a variety of examples, is the ubiquity of communications and open source platforms in a “cloud” environment. The Economist lists these elements:

  • …snippets of code that can be copied free from the internet, along with easy-to-learn programming frameworks (such as Ruby on Rails).
  • … services for … sharing code (GitHub) …
  • … “application programming interfaces” (APIs), digital plugs that are multiplying rapidly …
  • … “platforms”—services that can host startups’ offerings (Amazon’s cloud computing), distribute them (Apple’s App Store) and market them (Facebook, Twitter).
  • … the internet, the mother of all platforms, which is now fast, universal and wireless.

What has also changed is that the IT stack is, in effect, collapsing. The “separation of concerns”, that kept the network infrastructure distinct from the applications running over it, is being whittled away. In October 2013 we teamed up Read More »

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What’s New with onePK?

CiscoLive San Francisco is coming up so I’ve been updating my session, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to onePK, with the latest information and some new insights.

One new thing is that Cisco onePK (One Platform Kit) is now Generally Available! Anyone can go to onepkdeveloper.com, download the SDK, and take C, Java or Python for a test drive. And I really mean anyone. You don’t even need a Babel fish. Haven’t programmed since freshman year in college? Don’t worry. If you can click on an icon in a Linux desktop and type the name of a script, then you can use onePK.

The great thing about this is that now we can all get real. As a network engineer, technologies aren’t real to me until I see them running on a network. After all, you can read about LSA types and adjacencies all day long, but until you’ve deployed OSPF, you don’t really know OSPF. The same is true for onePK. Read More »

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Software Defined Networking and Network Programmability

Discover Cisco’s approach to software defined networking and how Federal Agencies can use network programmability and onePK to enhance their business and mission:

Software Defined Networking and Network Programmability: Use Cases for Defense and Intelligence Communities

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How a Snowboarding ‘Wipeout’ Can Guide You On SDN Deployment

February 27, 2014 at 10:49 am PST

 

As I was thinking about how best to advise you on how to “experiment” with SDN technologies, and more specifically why you should run a formal pilot to evaluate SDN technology options (a topic I covered in my previous blog), I was reminded of this “wipeout” picture I took last year at a “freeride” competition – the “Coe Cup”  -- at my local ski mountain, Glencoe Moutain Resort, here in the UK.   Let me tell you why!

Why you may want to "pilot" new technology adoption!

Why you may want to “pilot” new technology adoption!

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