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Use SDN Strategically – and NOT as a “Band Aid”

hammer nut

The other week I attended the “Software Defined Networking 2013” conference in London.  This is a UK-based event for the discussion of SDN, OpenFlow and Network Virtualisation Solutions from a strategic perspective.  There were quite a few interesting perspective s I picked up at this conference.  In particular, the conference for me reinforced the potential of SDN – but if you apply it to the wrong problem, you may not get the return you hope for!

Top of mind for me, then, coming out of this conference was a demo of “What SDN Can Do For You” from one of our competitors.  At best, the phrase “using a sledge hammer to crack a nut” comes to mind.

The demo came from our friends in Palo Alto, who once (boldly but incorrectly!) predicted  that “Cisco UCS would be dead a year after launch”. They gave a SDN-focused demo that, when I “peeled back the onion”, didn’t demonstrate a compelling SDN use case.  Rather, it convinced me that if you have this particular problem as illustrated in their demo, you don’t need SDN: you need a new vendor!

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SDN Reflections on the London Gartner Data Center Conference – Part 2

The London Eye

The London Eye

Last week I started my SDN reflections on the London Gartner Data Center Conference, and I found I had quite a lot to discuss.

Last week I covered:

  • Do we need SDN?
  • SDN and the Gartner Hype Cycle
  • SDN Deployment Models

So here is the concluding part. This week I’ll cover:

  • Overlay-Based SDN — and the questionable assumptions being made by others in this area (good for Gartner for calling these out!)
  • The SDN Vendor Explosion Challenge,
  • The “Unspoken Costs” of SDN Deployment, and
  • The “How” of SDN is still missing.

I hope you find this useful and informative and as always, feel free to debate with me around my observations!

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SDN Reflections on the London Gartner Data Center Conference – Part 1

Last week I was in London for the Gartner Data Center Conference.  As always there was a wide range of interesting topics being discussed, all very useful.  Working in Cisco Data Center Services, I am interested in many data center topics, however this year I was interested to hear perspectives on SDN, how the market is evolving, and how the attendees – including many senior IT practitioners – are considering SDN adoption.

London's Big Ben at Night

London’s Big Ben at Night

From a Cisco perspective, we were showcasing the recently launched Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), which generated a lot of interest.  There is growing awareness among our customers that ACI could do for networks and applications what the Cisco UCS has done for the server market (with UCS server profiles in the latter proving a good analogy to help customers understand the potential of ACI).

So what were some of my key takeaways from the SDN discussion I heard here?  And what were the questions that in my view are still not being discussed sufficiently across the industry?

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The Quickest Way To Get Started with ACI

By now, given all the launch and blogging activity activity over the past week or so, I am sure your understanding of and interest in Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) will have grown.   Many of you will be asking “how do I get started as quickly as possible?”, and “how can I free up some time and resources to investigate?”  You understand the “what” – now, as I blogged recently on SDN, it’s time to understand more about the “why” and take action on the “how”.   How then do you get off that start line as quickly as possible?

Get Set To Go With ACI

Get Set To Go With ACI

As with many things in life, it helps if you get help from someone who has “been there” and “done that”.  And that’s where Cisco Services comes in, as Scott Clark, the VP for our Data Center Services team, introduced  last week.  So let’s talk about why Cisco Services should be your partner in this application centric world, and what services can help you.

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Navigating Your OpenStack Roadmap: Why You Should Run a “Pilot”

The road in my picture below – the A82 that winds through Glencoe in Scotland – was used in the James Bond “Skyfall” movie in one of the amazing car chase scenes.  This road winds through sparsely inhabited territory, has lots of ups, downs, bumps and turns and if you’re not careful it can be a dangerous road.  I’ll draw the analogy here with the challenges of introducing new technologies: there can be ups, downs, bumps and turns into the unknown, if you are not careful.  And in my case here, I’ll use this analogy to illustrate the challenges of adopting OpenStack: without the right kind of approach, without a carefully managed exploratory “pilot” investigation and subsequent roadmap planning, you may find that adopting OpenStack – or any other open source software solution, for that matter – has its share of challenges, ups, downs, bumps and turns into the unknown.

The Road Along Which James Bond Raced!

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