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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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BYOD: Extending the Network Edge into the Connected Home

By Ross Fujii, CTO of Cisco Network Management Technology Group (NMTG)

Up to this point, I’ve made a strong case for how important visibility into the connected home network is to service providers.  I’ve shown how the culture of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is already taking root, and why it is essential for service providers to meet the needs of consumers and businesses if they want to stay competitive.  The question remains, how will service providers achieve this?

On March 28, 2012, Cisco announced its intent to acquire privately-held ClearAccess, a provider of TR-069-based software to service providers for the provisioning and management of residential and mobile devices.  ClearAccess management and software capabilities will augment Cisco Prime – Cisco’s network management software portfolio – by offering a set of powerful and sophisticated tools for provisioning, monitoring and managing bandwidth usage, parental controls, and diagnostics to connected devices in the home.

TR-069 technology provides a standardized means for describing remote home gateways.  TR-069 can be likened to the DOCSIS standard used by cable companies, and there are many flavors to Read More »

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BYOD: Beyond the Triple Play

By Ross Fujii, CTO of Cisco Network Management Technology Group (NMTG)

Service providers have already penetrated the connected home network with equipment such as set-top boxes and Internet gateway routers to provide Triple Play services – voice, video, and data.  From this established base, Service providers have the opportunity to further extend into quad and quintuple plays by offering additional services such as wireless/cellular and security-based/home automation.  In fact, with the right infrastructure, the connected home network becomes extremely flexible and capable of supporting a wide range of new and innovative services.  Service providers are the natural candidate to offer – and capitalize upon – these services.

The key to generating more than just Triple Play revenues is visibility into the home network.  Effectively, Service providers need to push the edge of their networks further into the connected home.  In this way, they can enable the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) reality by: Read More »

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BYOD: What Businesses Need

By Ross Fujii, CTO of Cisco Network Management Technology Group (NMTG)

Bring Own Your Device (BYOD) in the context of the business world reflects the fact that many consumers bring their work home with them.  Specifically, they connect devices they have received as part of their job – laptops, smartphones, and tablets – to the home network and use them as they would at the workplace.

While the added productivity of BYOD and working at home is attractive to businesses, the risk of exposure is not.  Laptops, for example, can store or access sensitive data like financial information or critical trade secrets that need to be protected.  In some cases, such as personal or health data, the law requires that this information must be secured.

The reality is that it is not always possible to ensure that a device is secure.  As a consequence, Read More »

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BYOD: What Consumers Want

By Ross Fujii, CTO of Cisco Network Management Technology Group (NMTG)

Before exploring how service providers can capitalize upon the opportunities that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) offers, it is critical to understand what consumers actually need and want from their home network.  A few usage scenarios will illustrate the key characteristics of the next-generation connected home:

  • You’re watching the news on your smartphone as you take a walk around the neighborhood.  When you get home, you pause the video stream and resume it on your IPTV in the comfort of your living room couch.
  • You’ve heard about a new TV show you want to check out.  You have no idea whether Read More »

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