As the long awaited innovation in the networking space moves out of hype cycle and market interest in software defined networking (SDN) steadily rises, Cisco has been actively involved in these emerging trends, working with standards bodies and listening to the requirements of our global customer base.
As we continue to make our networks more open, programmable, and application aware, we believe we have the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio to help lead this change in an evolutionary manner.
During engagements with our global customer base, we have heard many claims about SDN. I will address these claims from a customer support point of view.
• SDN is about virtualizing the network. It is about migrating from a static, complex physical network platform to a dynamic simplified software enabled virtual platform
• SDN is about commoditizing network hardware because software can provide all functionalities in a centralized, limitless fashion.
• SDN is about reducing TCO and increasing agility. It is about reducing cost (OPEX) through simplification, virtualization, and automation, but also accelerating innovative business services for growth.
Let’s look at the implications of these.
#1: SDN is about virtualizing the network.
This is true and there are benefits. But before you think about virtualizing the network using “Software Defined Network” or “Software Defined Data Center”, let’s recap some core requirements any IT organization needs to take into account:
• Do you have an understanding of your business application environment?
• What are the key interdependencies between your application strategy and your infrastructure strategy?
• What implications would virtualizing the network layer have on your SLA’s? Are there performance penalties associated to your business if you don’t meet them?
If you have not explored these questions in details, then consider developing an “application to infrastructure” blueprint that is aligned to your business strategy. Leverage SDN as a crucial technology building block that can accelerate this process and provide solutions to any gaps identified hence simplifying your path towards network virtualization.
#2: SDN is about commoditizing network hardware because software can now provide all network functionalities.
This is not a reality today. The evolution of PaaS/SaaS and application providers support the fact that software is not “limitless.” The need for network intelligence, scale, performance, and security are still top priorities of most IT infrastructure. SDN does not promise to eliminate the importance hardware has, but simply illustrates the possibility of moving the decision intelligence from the hardware to software. What about speed and performance requirements on a software controller? Can it scale and grow as fast as the business (traffic) needs? How about the hardware that the controller software is running on — can it react fast enough to the ever-growing computing and storage demands? Can your “software only” infrastructure grow dynamically and as fast as your business application needs grow? Each organization needs to consider the implications of transferring the risk and complexity from infrastructure deployment to software (controller and agents) development.
#3: SDN is about reducing TCO and increasing Speed to Market for innovative business services.
Total Cost of Ownership calculations include both CAPEX and OPEX.In an “SDN” world, CAPEX = hardware cost + software cost which includes both development and maintenance, whether you choose to develop in-house (i.e. hiring new skills or transform your existing staff) or through a third-party software developer (i.e. licensing and upgrade costs). Is your operating model changing fast enough to utilize the benefit of SDN’s *simplified* management and operation? Have you broken down IT siloes between Security, Compute, Storage, and Operations? Is your organization ready to shift from managing infrastructure to managing software and changing the IT operation structure? Do you have the necessary tools and process to capture the rich data an “SDN” architecture now provides and turn them into new services for creating new revenue streams? In other words, is everything going to get more complicated before it can be “simplified”? Looking back to the server virtualization transition, very few IT organizations, if any, can claim that they realized the projected operating ROI within the first few years.
Now, let’s take a look at Cisco Open network Environment (ONE).
CiscoONE is more than just SDN. It offers a solution set that provides:
• A softwarecontroller that is centralized and separated from the local data planes
• Network programmability
• Network virtual overlays
We see the move to programmability and network virtualization as an evolution, not a revolution. CiscoONE creates incremental functionality that can be layered on existing infrastructure to deliver new functionality and provide SDN capabilities on top of both traditional technologies and modern business application needs. This enables you to continue leveraging value from the IT investments you’ve already made. We are working to help customers extract more value from the network by offering a broad network API, rich features, and analytics. The core value of the Cisco solution is an “Application Centric Infrastructure”, compare to the generic “Software Defined Network” term. Both software and hardware are a means for providing services business applications. And by making applications the center of everything, we take the broadest view to deliver openness, programmability and abstraction across multiple layers, to the line of business owners.
As my colleague Stephen Speirs pointed out in his blog, Services is the missing S in SDN, I would also say Strategy is the starting point for SDN. Why Strategy?
With the right strategy, you can plan, build and manage an open, programmable, “virtualized” network that reduces your OPEX and delivers the business outcomes you need with the minimum level of risk.
- Customers are at various stages of SDN adoption, as with any new technology or network paradigm. We’ve heard a lot of questions from them: How do I build a business case for SDN? How do I validate the ROI? How do I manage SDN devices? How would SDN change my operations model? What new security vulnerabilities and regulatory issues will I have? How do I build the API applications that are needed for my use case? What do I do when something goes wrong?
- Few customers have a clear understanding of their application profiles. Without a clear view of your application profiles, there are risks to deploying SDN.
- Cisco Services can help you through the SDN journey starting from identify the right strategy to execution so that your organization can transform your business agenda to maximize business value and minimize risks.
Services help you address the areas of What, Why and How
The Cisco Services team is well-positioned to lead this transition for customers. Our work with enterprises, services providers and public sector organizations over past 20+ years has provided us with unique network insights and implementation experience. Cisco Services offer consulting, professional and technical services via strategy, assessment/planning (Why), design and development (What), deployment, validation and operations services (How). We have the experience to help you adopt open, programmable or virtualized networks based on where you are today and where you need to be in order to harness Network Intelligence through deep programmatic access to your networking platforms.
As part of the Cisco Open Network Environment approach, there’s a lot of news coming out of Orlando from this year’s Cisco Live US event, and a lot of it involves OpenStack. OpenStack has never been more prominent at Cisco Live – and there’s much more to come. This is significant not only because it demonstrates our continued commitment to OpenStack but also the progress of our ongoing product integration efforts.
We had multiple technical breakout sessions and technical seminars on OpenStack, delivered by Cisco OpenStack experts, throughout the event. Here are a few of them:
We’re also featuring six product demonstrations with OpenStack integration. If you are in Orlando this week, please visit the World of Solutions Expo and see them all:
OpenStack with Cisco Nexus 1000v
We’re showing an OpenStack deployment on UCS hardware that uses Nexus 1000v as the underlying host virtual switch. Nexus1000v solution on KVM hypervisor is going to be available soon. We’ve developed an OpenStack Networking (i.e. Neutron) plugin that communicates with the Nexus 1000v VSM module and also configures VEMs on the host. We have introduced network profile and port profile constructs in OpenStack Networking as well as provided enhancement to the OpenStack Horizon (GUI) for Nexus 1000v.
OpenStack Networking and Cisco Nexus plugin
Our OpenStack Networking Cisco Nexus plugin can provide isolated tenant network segments on Nexus physical hardware by provisioning and de-provisioning VLAN’s. The plugin works with Nexus 3K/5K/6K/7K line of switches. This data sheet captures more information.
OpenStack and Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud
Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (Cisco IAC) turns OpenStack into a production-ready cloud platform – using our service catalog, orchestration, and cloud management software to complement and extend OpenStack functionality. At Cisco Live, we’re demonstrating how end users can order a virtual machine from the Cisco IAC portal, with OpenStack integration to Nova to fulfill this request.
Cisco UCS Manager and OpenStack
Cisco UCS Manager has extensive hardware provisioning and diagnostic capabilities that will soon be brought into OpenStack. What we’re showing this week is the ability of UCS Manager to detect chassis and blade hardware configurations and initiate an automated OpenStack node deployment. The UCS Manager OpenStack developer community information can be accessed here. Additionally, we also had a breakout session that walked through deploying OpenStack using our Cisco OpenStack Installer (COI): starting from bare-metal provisioning all the way through the deployment of the controller and compute nodes as well as storage, and networking. Visit here for COI setup instructions.
Cisco Dynamic Fabric Automation with OpenStack
The newly announced Cisco Dynamic Fabric Automation is our next generation network fabric solution that provides high performance converged networking across the data center. This week, we’re showing OpenStack Networking with Dynamic Fabric Automation to provision network overlay within the Fabric.
OpenStack integration with Cisco onePK
Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE) architecture expands the capabilities of OpenStack Networking by providing a onePK plugin. We’ll be showing how various Cisco ONE elements can be programmed through OpenStack Neutron and offer Layer 2 and Layer 3 services in an OpenStack deployment. See here for more information.
At the recent Red Hat Summit , OpenStack was also very prominent; the launch of their commercially supported distribution of OpenStack (Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform) filled one of the few remaining gaps for mainstream customer deployment. We’re continuing to work with the OpenStack community and partners like Red Hat to advance the adoption and success of this open source cloud platform. If you want to learn more about OpenStack and Red Hat on Cisco UCS, you can watch these videos from the Red Hat Summit.
This new level of project maturity as well integration with the Cisco Nexus and UCS platforms is accelerating customer adoption of OpenStack. Cisco Live is the obvious place to showcase our success and ongoing commitment to OpenStack.
Stay tuned for more from the OpenStack team at Cisco!
Today, at Cisco Live! in Orlando, we shared a vision for a revolutionary networking architecture that will transform data centers and usher in a new era of Application-Centric Infrastructure.
The realization of this vision will optimize data center infrastructure for the new breed of mobile-cloud era applications that has evolved around the massive proliferation of connections between people, processes, information and devices that we call the Internet of Everything.
Big Data applications such as Hadoop, cloud applications such as Salesforce and Cisco WebEx, and massively scalable consumer video applications such as NetFlix and YouTube are typical of this new breed.
The challenge with these applications in particular, is that they need to be able to run across multiple servers and data centers, be able to parallel process asynchronous tasks, and be continually available, globally. These applications rely on both physical and virtual infrastructures and, as a result, place new demands on the data center to deliver applications at scale, with the level of availability, quality of service and flexibility that today’s businesses demand.
Through our Application Centric Infrastructure vision, we will help IT departments dramatically simplify how they provision their data center resources (networking, servers, storage and services) that are critical to the performance of their applications.It’s a key component in the evolution to the model for next generation IT that I detailed in my keynote at Cisco Live! Orlando.
In order to meet these demands, the infrastructure must evolve. It must become application-centric.Network, compute, and storage need to be able to operate as one high-performance resource pool that can be provisioned instantly and automatically according to the needs of the application and related IT policies with security pervasive throughout. This type of dynamic, automated infrastructure provisioning requires a single point of management for the integrated needs of application, network and security administrators that replaces the fragmented, siloed views they have today.
And it’s this vision for the next generation data center that we will deliver, to the market, while helping customers evolve their existing investments for the future.The Application Centric Infrastructure will give our customers the agility to deliver applications to end-users where they want, when they want, and to any device they want - securely, rapidly, and at a lower cost.
Why Isn’t the Traditional Model of Networking Sufficient for the Cloud, Mobile and Big Data Era?
But we’ll only meet future demands when we can bridge the gap between applications and infrastructure, in addition to unifying the siloes of infrastructure.The fabric is extremely valuable in bringing together disparate systems, and the logical next step would be convergence for applications deployment and performance. Let me use an analogy to explain.
In the consumer world, if you buy an approved Android App, you know it’s going to run well on your mobile device because the developer used an Android development toolkit to optimize the app for the O/S. Once bought, the App doesn’t need to know the details of your device, the O/S simply ‘tells’ the device which resources it needs to run really well.
No such abstraction layer exists in the data center today.To make applications run really well, apps need to be programmed to the individual networked elements at the command line level.Imagine if every time you bought a new smart phone app, you had to manually configure your device’s screen resolution, graphics card, keyboard, broadband connection etc. In the data center, the process is this manual, complicated, slow, and thereby expensive.
And why SDN is not the answer…
While it might seem that SDN is supposed to solve this exact challenge, I want to share my thoughts on where it falls short.
SDN promised to meet the needs of new apps by delivering greater scale, programmability, centralized management and automation.But SDN, to date, can’t meet the needs of applications because it mimics the old model of networking. It doesn’t unify physical and virtual. It is flow-based (focused on individual networking elements), and not object-oriented (creating a configurable system of all IT resources). It can’t offer dynamic centralized policy management, programmability because it is constrained by old proprietary-standards model.
And with the changing applications world, we need more.We need an approach broader than what’s been defined as the separation of the control and data planes.Beyond SDN, the next generation data center must:
Be created with an object-oriented design
Provide a single point for dynamic policy management across physical and virtual resource pools
Be a system that is deeply programmable for rapid application provisioning and placement
Incorporate an open source approach to ensure total integration with RESTful interfaces into system-level management software
Enable multi-tenancy and virtualization, without performance penalties
And have deep ecosystem support from application, management, and services vendors.
That is precisely the type of Application Centric Infrastructure Cisco will deliver with our new networking architecture.
A Complete Solution: Application Centric Infrastructure
In the second half of 2013, Cisco will begin to introduce the elements of this new secure architecture, starting with best-in-class infrastructure components, and followed by software that enables centralized, application and policy-driven automation, and unified management of physical, virtual and cloud infrastructures.
Accelerated to market by Cisco’s investment in the data center start-up Insieme Networks, we think the benefits to customers will be huge, and include:
Application Velocity (Any workload, anywhere): Reducing application deployment time through a fully automated and programmatic infrastructure for provisioning and placement. Customers will be able to define the infrastructure requirements of the application, and then have those requirements applied automatically throughout the infrastructure.
A common platform for managing physical, virtual and cloud infrastructure: The complete integration across physical and virtual, normalizing endpoint access while delivering the flexibility of software and the performance, scale and visibility of hardware across multi-vendor, virtualized, bare metal, distributed scale out and cloud applications
Systems Architecture: A holistic approach with the integration of infrastructure, services and security along with the ability to deliver simplification of the infrastructure, integration of existing and future services with real time telemetry system wide.
Common Policy, Management and Operations for Network, Security, Applications: A common policy management framework and operational model driving automation across Network, Security and Application IT teams that is extensible to compute and storage in the future.
Open APIs, Open Source and Multivendor: A broad ecosystem of partners who will be empowered by a comprehensive published set of APIs and innovations contributed to open source.
The best of Custom and Merchant Silicon: To provide highly scalable, programmatic performance, low-power platforms and optics innovations that protect investments in existing cabling plants, and optimize capital and operational expenditures.
As we prepare to write the next chapter in the evolution of the data center, I couldn’t be more proud of our team.It is the true realization of Cisco’s innovation principles -- build, buy, partner and integrate. We’re delivering a fundamentally new vision with disruptive, breakthrough innovation.
Cisco today introduced Application-Centric Infrastructure as the vision for Next Generation Data Center architecture, built for both today’s physical and virtual workloads as well as tomorrow’s highly dynamic Cloud-based, and performance-intensive big data application environments. Please check out Padmasree Warrior’s blog or Cisco Unified Fabric to learn more.
What I would like to share with you is how we are evolving the Cisco Unified Fabric to deliver operational simplicity through superior integration.
Delivering Operational Simplicity through Superior Integration
As organizations accelerate private and public cloud deployments, IT organizations and data center networks must evolve to meet rapidly changing and growing requirements. Virtualized and cloud environments require more agility and simplicity to quickly deploy and migrate virtual machines. IT organizations, on the other hand, are challenged with operational complexity, architectural rigidity and infrastructure inefficiency with manual processes, disjointed provisioning, deficient software overlays, static resource allocations and disruptions when growth is needed.
The good news is that Cisco continues to evolve its Unified Fabric to address these needs. The new Cisco Dynamic Fabric Automation delivers unsurpassed operational simplicities through superior integration. It does this by …. Read More »
Having been part of the team who developed the Cisco Cloud Enablement Services, our professional services to help customers enable and adopt cloud computing, I was absolutely delighted watching the CiscoLive! keynote yesterday to hear Padmasree Warrior announce the results of the March 2013 IDC market research study that showed Cisco come out on top for cloud professional services [Source: “2013 U.S. Professional Services Opportunities Related to Cloud Services”, IDC Doc # 239862, March 2013].
In this survey, as the chart below shows (reproduced with the kind permission of IDC), respondents indicated that Cisco professional services were used most often across all of the three cloud categories that IDC measured: cloud applications, cloud application platforms, and cloud infrastructure. Ahead of Accenture, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle/Sun, HP and others.