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This is the first in a multi-part series where we cover ‘programmability’ for networking.  The idea is to fully review the programming options now available inside the Nexus switches, (3000, 9000).  This first episode covers new access with Linux tools, NX-API and more. Further shows will be diving into the details around Object Models and orchestration partners.

The primary point for any of these is to understand how Cisco Open NX-OS extensibility exposes greater programmability and automation capabilities.  It is fascinating and full of new learning opportunities.  It does not come without a few career questions of course…usually, something along the lines of: do network engineers need to become programmers now too?  

Two answers:  Yes.  It depends.

Networking knowledge and skill should not be undersold here.  Programming capabilities should be additive.  They are useful in just about any tech career and obviously affecting the networking space.  I think it’s foolish to ever quit learning but it does depend on your aspirations, your current level of satisfaction and perhaps how narrowly defined your skill set might be.

Full disclosure: I am not a programmer. I have been learning the fundamentals of python and a few others as I work on this series but I am not hire-able for this skill by any means. But the distinct feeling I get, and the feedback I hear from you guys: its not that hard.  You are probably well versed in scripting for various CLI operations…take it up a few notches and work on some of these ‘readable’ languages that will have similar syntax.  This will give you the ability to judge the appeal of what we are offering with ACI and other solutions much more credibly…and I guarantee you will find ways to get rid of redundant crap and stupid errors you may be fighting with yourself or your team.

JOIN US AT THE WORKSHOP

Live, interactive, never dull.

September 21, 2015

Programmable networks will forever change the way you manage infrastructure enabling you to dramatically accelerate configuration and deployment of your network, automate time consuming manual tasks, and allocate IT resources far more efficiently.  Are you ready for the revolution?  

Discover how to create a programmable network as we discuss and demonstrate the NX-API and NX-API REST (Object Model) in detail. Understand how Cisco Open NX-OS extensibility exposes greater programmability and automation capabilities that eliminate costly manual errors.

– You can sign up at the workshop tab when the date gets a bit closer, http://www.techwisetv.com

 

Nicolas Delecroix in the TechWiseTV Lab

Nicolas Delecroix in the TechWiseTV Lab

TechWiseTV 176: Open NX-OS: Programmability

Shownotes:

Two great experts on this episode.

Six Key Points: What OPEN means for NX-OS

Six Key Points: What OPEN means for NX-OS

Shane Corban shares Six Key Points: What OPEN means for NX-OS

Changes made across the software stack to address Extensibility, Openness, Programmability.

  1. Auto Deployment (Bootstrap and Provisioning)
    • Added support for PXE server, operationalize NX-OS software to match an existing server environment
  2. Extensibility – how we package software
    • We did not use to expose much beyond a bash shell
    • Now you can install native RPM’s, and third party applications running processes as they would on a Linux server
  3. Open Interfaces
    • We are now adding support to leverage Linux like tools for debugging, configuration and troubleshooting…manipulate those front panel ports as native Linux interfaces within our switch software stack.
  4. Application Integration (Adaptable SDK)
    • Published an SDK, a build environment that you can install on any Linux server, download the build agent, and put your source into that directory structure and build into an RPM for installation and run it natively.
    • Build your own custom automation apps, monitoring agents, and have them run natively on our platform
  5. Programmability Tool Choice
    • Sandbox
    • We have a native Python shell today that has a Native Cisco Library that you can utilize for automation
    • NX-API – the ability to embed CLI commands and structured data (JSON, XML) for execution on the switch via HTTP/HTTPS Interface to get back structured data back on show commands.
  6. Management Tools
    • Support for Chef and Puppet
    • Agents will be publicly available on the enterprise sites
    • Support for Open Stack, Neutron

NX-OS is now more modular, more open, more capable of third party integration providing a  wide variety of programmability choices ideal for Dev-Ops environments.  

Five case study examples

Five case study examples

Nicolas provides five case study examples. 

  1. Checking Software Version
  2. Using Python script with NXAPI and JSON to pull version numbers
  3. Python script to query multiple switches to check compliance against a specific version
  4. VLAN Provisioning
  5. Checking for proper VLAN provisioning

Special thanks behind the scenes to Rami Rammaha and Mark Jackson

_____

More Reading:

Cisco Nexus 9000 Programmability Guide

Matt Oswalt is a great writer. You should follow his blog: Keeping it Classless.   I enjoy his angles on things.  Read up on his blog entry: Evolution of Network Programmability, Nexus 9000 NX-API,NX-API Update.

Some Learning Basics:

What do you think still needs to be covered?  I would love any thoughts on how the rest of this series should be shaped.  Leave your comments below and just to make sure…tag me on twitter.  We are diving into Object Models (taping next week) and then some angle with the Orchestration Partners.   Case in point: Puppet Labs is making available today a native Puppet NX-OS agent and Cisco Puppet Module.

Let me know!

Robb

http:twitter.com/robbboyd

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usNIC inside Linux containers

Linux containers, as a lighter virtualization alternative to virtual machines, are gaining momentum. The High Performance Computing (HPC) community is eyeing Linux containers with interest, hoping that they can provide the isolation and configurability of Virtual Machines, but without the performance penalties.

In this article, I will show a simple example of libvirt-based container configuration in which I assign the container one of the ultra-low latency (usNIC) enabled Ethernet interfaces available in the host. This allows bare-metal performance of HPC applications, but within the confines of a Linux container.

Read More »

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Paradigm Shift with Edge Intelligence

In my Internet of Things keynote at LinuxCon 2014 in Chicago last week, I touched upon a new trend: the rise of a new kind of utility or service model, the so-called IoT specific service provider model, or IoT SP for short.

I had a recent conversation with a team of physicists at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. I told them they would be surprised to hear the new computer scientist’s talk these days, about Data Gravity.  Programmers are notorious for overloading common words, adding connotations galore, messing with meanings entrenched in our natural language.

We all laughed and then the conversation grew deeper:

  • Big data is very difficult to move around, it takes energy and time and bandwidth hence expensive. And it is growing exponentially larger at the outer edge, with tens of billions of devices producing it at an ever faster rate, from an ever increasing set of places on our planet and beyond.
  • As a consequence of the laws of physics, we know we have an impedance mismatch between the core and the edge, I coined this as the Moore-Nielsen paradigm (described in my talk as well): data gets accumulated at the edges faster than the network can push into the core.
  • Therefore big data accumulated at the edge will attract applications (little data or procedural code), so apps will move to data, not the other way around, behaving as if data has “gravity”

Therefore, the notion of a very large centralized cloud that would control the massive rise of data spewing from tens of billions of connected devices is pitched both against the laws of physics and Open Source not to mention the thirst for freedom (no vendor lock-in) and privacy (no data lock-in). The paradigm shifted, we entered the 3rd big wave (after the mainframe decentralization to client-server, which in turn centralized to cloud): the move to a highly decentralized compute model, where the intelligence is shifting to the edge, as apps come to the data, at much larger scale, machine to machine, with little or no human interface or intervention.

The age-old dilemma, do we go vertical (domain specific) or horizontal (application development or management platform) pops up again. The answer has to be based on necessity not fashion, we have to do this well; hence vertical domain knowledge is overriding. With the declining cost of computing, we finally have the technology to move to a much more scalable and empowering model, the new opportunity in our industry, the mega trend.

Very reminiscent of the early 90’s and the beginning of the ISPs era, isn’t it? This time much more vertical with deep domain knowledge: connected energy, connected manufacturing, connected cities, connected cars, connected home, safety and security.  These innovation hubs all share something in common: an Open and Interconnected model, made easy by the dramatically lower compute cost and ubiquity in open source, to overcome all barriers of adoption, including the previously weak security or privacy models predicated on a central core. We can divide and conquer, deal with data in motion, differently than we deal with data at rest.

The so-called “wheel of computer science” has completed one revolution, just as its socio-economic observation predicted, the next generation has arrived, ready to help evolve or replace its aging predecessor. Which one, or which vertical will it be first…?

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Cisco, Linux Foundation, and OpenSSL

The recent OpenSSL Heartbleed vulnerability has shown that technology leaders must work together to secure the Internet’s critical infrastructure. That’s why Cisco is proud to be a founding supporter of the Linux Foundation initiative announced yesterday (April 24th).

The initiative will fund open source projects that are critical to core computing and Internet functions, and Cisco sees security technologies as a fundamental infrastructure component. The first project being considered for funding is OpenSSL. As a longtime contributor to open source and user, we’ve offered code and intellectual property to enhance OpenSSL. We’ve also provided patches and testing results to help address vulnerabilities. Today’s announcement takes that commitment a step further.

We are pleased to help form a critical mass of governance, funding, and focus that will support the output of open source communities like OpenSSL. By working together as an industry, we can expect greater security, stability, and robustness for components that are critical to the Internet.

For more Cisco-specific information on the Heartbleed vulnerability, please visit our event response page and Security Advisory. You may also be interested in our April 23 webinar titled, Heartbleed: Assessing and Mitigating Your Risk.

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Open Source is just the other side, the wild side!

March is a rather event-laden month for Open Source and Open Standards in networking: the 89th IETF, EclipseCon 2014, RSA 2014, the Open Networking Summit, the IEEE International Conference on Cloud (where I’ll be talking about the role of Open Source as we morph the Cloud down to Fog computing) and my favorite, the one and only Open Source Think Tank where this year we dive into the not-so-small world (there is plenty of room at the bottom!) of machine-to-machine (m2m) and Open Source, that some call the Internet of Everything.

There is a lot more to March Madness, of course, in the case of Open Source, a good time to celebrate the 1st anniversary of “Meet Me on the Equinox“, the fleeting moment where daylight conquered the night the day that project Daylight became Open Daylight. As I reflect on how quickly it started and grew from the hearts and minds of folks more interested in writing code than talking about standards, I think about how much the Network, previously dominated, as it should, by Open Standards, is now beginning to run with Open Source, as it should. We captured that dialog with our partners and friends at the Linux Foundation in this webcast I hope you’ll enjoy. I hope you’ll join us in this month in one of these neat places.

As Open Source has become dominant in just about everything, Virtualization, Cloud, Mobility, Security, Social Networking, Big Data, the Internet of Things, the Internet of Everything, you name it, we get asked how do we get the balance right? How does one work with the rigidity of Open Standards and the fluidity of Open Source, particularly in the Network? There is only one answer, think of it as the Yang of Open Standards, the Yin of Open Source, they need each other, they can not function without the other, particularly in the Network.  Open Source is just the other side, the wild side!

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