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Networking: Moving From Open to Closed (Part 2 of 2)

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”  -- William Faulkner

In the first half of this blog, I explained how MSDCs are like mainframes and super computers. In this half I develop on my thesis that the networks connecting compute and storage resources within the MSDC are becoming proprietary just like they are in mainframes to create a competitive advantage.

Continuing from where I left off, the internal architecture of a mainframe is parallel to MSDC architectures as shown in the figure to the right.

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Mainframe architectures were (and still are) proprietary, in that how the compute and storage resources are connected was an internal engineering design. Each vendor had their own internal design which served as a competitive differentiation. We are seeing the same thing happening in MSDCs. 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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Navigating Device Management and Control Interfaces in the Age of SDN

February 28, 2014 at 10:59 am PST

The proliferation of different types of device interfaces places a significant burden on application developers and equipment providers alike. One of the reasons for the rise of Software Defined Networking (SDN) is its promise to simplify management by providing a single point through which the entire network can be managed and administered. This raises the question whether this promise extends towards dramatic simplification of the device interface landscape as well, specifically, whether SDN can put an end to device interface proliferation and in the future a single management and control interface may be all that is required. Unfortunately, it turns out that this particular hope is unsubstantiated. Here is why.

The Promised SDN Land of Interface Simplification

Much has been made of the need to align the various interfaces through which networking devices can be managed and controlled. It has been difficult enough to just keep SNMP implementations consistent. Throw CLI, syslog, and Web Services into the mix, and the task becomes daunting indeed. One reason why different interfaces have to be supported has to do with customer preferences, of course. Chef is the new paradigm to support? Sure, we’ll add that. ReST is becoming en-vogue? We’ll support that too.

In the middle of all this, along comes SDN. “Don’t bother with individual devices and their legacy interfaces” is the siren call. “Use a controller to orchestrate the network instead” – a single point of control through which the network can be operated and maintained, an enticing value proposition indeed. Early SDN technology such as OpenFlow made a big splash and gained a lot of mind share this way. Rather than messing with the hodgepodge of existing interfaces, a single interface was introduced to control OpenFlow switches. Just support this one interface, or so the message went, and your equipment can join the New World of Software-Defined Networking, leaving the Old World of fragmented interfaces behind, much like early European settlers coming to America hoped for freedom and a better life, leaving behind constantly quarreling fiefdoms and many centuries of historical baggage. Read More »

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Looking Beyond Cost Savings with SDN and NFV

Cisco SDN and NFVA few weeks ago when we announced the Cisco APIC Enterprise Module, in response to a post by Cisco VP Jeff Reed, David had quite a lengthy comment to which I’d like to respond.  His specific question (within the full comment) was:

Do you see an upside for more value-added offerings — beyond the current anticipated cost-savings debate about the promise of SDN/NFV technologies?

First, thank you David for your questions.  In short, Yes.  At Cisco we see a lot of value in offering services to our Enterprise customers and also to our partners who offer managed services to their customers. Let me expand on this.

Cisco is fully aware of the emerging market segments with the still nascent SDN technology adoption. As you say, larger telcos and cloud service providers are looking at SDN/NFV with open hardware assessments and are more interested in scaling their deployments of multi-tenancy architectures. Whereas small and medium sized enterprises are evaluating SDN with a more application-centric approach. The main concern, given their modest investment infrastructure, (compared to the telcos and cloud service providers) is about having agile IT that can respond quickly to their business needs. Read More »

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