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

December 17, 2013 at 10:55 am PST

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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#EngineersUnplugged S3|Ep14: Application Affinity

October 2, 2013 at 9:00 am PST

It’s the Season 3 Grand Finale of Engineers Unplugged! Today’s guests, Joe Onisick and Nils Swart, take on Application Affinity: how to bridge the network world and the application world. Is it possible to remove the complexity to speed adoption?  Watch and see:

Welcome to Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:

  1. Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
  2. Subscribe to the podcast here: engineersunplugged.com
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

What’s your view--horse or unicorn? Join the conversation on Twitter with #EngineersUnplugged. Look for the Season 4 premiere, coming your way soon!

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Why virtualizing the Network is not the same as virtualizing the Server?

VMware launched NSX, its Network Virtualization platform at VMworld last week. In his keynote, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger portrayed Network Virtualization as a very natural extension to what VMware accomplished in Server Virtualization. However market fundamentals and early drivers for Server Virtualization are not quite the same as Network Virtualization. Hence any comparison and contrast between the two should be understood and weighed on in their respective contexts.

The drive for Server Virtualization fundamentally was an attempt to address the growing gulf between faster rate of technology advancement in server space relative to customer ability to utilize the excess capacity. It was a trend that was driven by the focus towards gaining efficiency in an era where cost was becoming important. Over nearly a decade now Server Virtualization has accomplished this goal of better utilization of assets:  And server utilization levels have increased by a factor of 4 over the years.

DC_tech

Networks in the data centers today however do not suffer from this excess capacity problem. If any, the problem is the reverse – user demand for networks capacity continues to outpace what is currently available. As long as there remains a growing gulf between user expectations for capacity relative to technology advancement there will remain opportunity for vendors to innovate in this space. In other words unlike the server world, network virtualization does not shift the value away from the underlying infrastructure.

Server Virtualization is transforming IT by providing greater business agility. Goal of Network Virtualization should be to bring similar business agility for the network. However, this goal need not require complete decoupling of the virtual network from underlying physical network as some vendors may lead you to believe. Any goal of gaining agility by completely decoupling physical and virtual network can only be done with some confidence, by significant under-provisioning of the physical network. For if the bandwidth is plenty the overlays have less dependency on understanding or integrating with the underlying infrastructure. This shortsighted approach, which focuses on business agility, but ignores business assurance, will increase the network capital expenditure and operating expense spend over time. Note that even in the server world where compute efficiency was attained, the benefit did not come at any capex or opex savings. Capex savings attained on server hardware was offset by increased cost of virtualization software. And we have seen opex continues to increase over the last decade.

As IT increasingly begins to take on a service centric view, more intelligence will be needed at the edge – physical or virtual edge.  Cisco’s launch of Dynamic Fabric Automation (DFA) last July, address this view of an optimized fabric infrastructure with a more intelligent network edge that can enable any network anywhere, supporting transparent mobility for physical servers and virtual machines. Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) takes this a step further by enabling application-driven policy automation, management and visibility of physical and virtual networks. They however also integrate the physical and the virtual network for an agile service delivery that also assures full lifecycle user experience.

 You may want also to read on this topic

Dynamic Fabric Automation : http://www.cisco.com/en/US/solutions/ns340/ns517/ns224/ns945/dynamic_fabric_automation.html

Shashi Kiran’s blog :  The Next Paradigm Shift: Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI) gets ready to rumble 

Padmasree Warrior’s blog : Limitations of a Software-Only Approach to Data Center Networking 

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The Next Paradigm Shift: Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI) gets ready to rumble

To know more about Application Centric Infrastructure join us for a special webcast
with John Chambers and Soni Jiandani
on November 6th at 10:30 am EST/7:30 pm PST/15:30 GMT
Register Here 

True Innovators are not easy to find. In fact, people who build next-generation innovations and succeed are certifiably rare. Repeat successes with these innovations are rarer still. Hatricks are legendary. Anything beyond is best relegated to a rarefied stratospheric atmosphere and dismissed as fiction.

Fortunately for us at Cisco, one need not look too far for such innovators. The team of Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, Luca Cafiero and Soni Jiandani (affectionately called by some in the industry as the MPLS team) has both the reputation as well as the track-record of not just building world-class innovations, but for successfully converting them into multi-billion dollar global businesses within the Cisco fold.   So, when they talk about networking, a subject which they know a thing or two about, most people find it worth their while to listen up.

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Celebrating 5 Year Anniversary of Cisco Nexus 1000V Launch

August 16, 2013 at 5:00 am PST

Today marks an important milestone for one of our most strategic data center products and the foundation of virtual networking portfolio. Five years ago, the Nexus 1000V virtual switch was the pioneer in the virtual networking market with its launch at VMworld in 2008. Since then it has been adopted by over 8000 customers and continues to grow on other platforms, such as Microsoft Hyper-V, and soon Linux/KVM. Today, Nexus 1000V represents the largest software controller-based networking solution (aka, Software Defined Networking or SDN) in the industry.

We continue to add hundreds of paying customers every quarter, in spite of offering a fully featured no-cost essential edition.   The interest in the virtual networking space also continues to increase ever since the SDN trend started.  There are also plenty of FUD or rumors being spread about the Cisco’s virtual networking solution.  On this 5th year anniversary, let’s do some myth busting focused on Nexus 1000V based solutions. Read More »

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