True Story: When my son was about 3, I took him to go see his first movie in an actual movie theater. They had just built a brand new theater near our home and he was suitably impressed with all the bright shiny lights. Anyway, we got our popcorn and grabbed our seats just as the lights were dimming (you never really go anywhere quickly when an inquisitive toddler is involved). We got through the movie trailers, then, to my surprise, my son popped out of his seat and said he was ready to go home. Being his first movie-going experience, he thought the trailers were the big deal and did not realize we had not yet gotten to the featured attraction.
I was reminded of this after watching some conversations around SDN and programmability unfold over the last few days. If you believe to some of the folks out there, SDN is a settled matter--the technology is done, use cases nailed, and winning vendors already crowned. All that’s left is for the janitors to sweep the popcorn off the floor.
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Tags: Cisco Open Network Environment, future, OpenFlow, OpenStack, SDN
I developed Intelligent Network (IN) services and platforms during the early 1990s. With IN, Unix based controllers were connected to traditional telephone switches to perform both obscure as well as massively deployed phone services. Some of these services had very large centralized routing databases controlling the ultimate trunk/path selection of calls. Read More »
Tags: AIN, controller, OpenFlow, policy, SDN, SS7
For me, even though I am mostly a hardware geek, one of the coolest parts of the Cisco ONE launch at CiscoLive was the introduction of onePK. We see onePK as an core enabling technology that will have some cool stuff down the road.
So, one of the more common questions I get is about the relationship between onePK and other technologies related to network programmability such as OpenFlow (OF). Many folks mistakenly view this as an either/or choice. To be honest, when I first heard about onePK, I thought it was OpenFlow on steroids too; however, I had some fine folks from NOSTG educate me on the difference between the two. They are, in fact, complementary and for many customer scenarios, we expect them to be used in concert. Take a look at the pic below, which shows how these technologies map against the multi-layer model we introduced with Cisco ONE:
As you can see, onePK gives developers comprehensive, granular programmatic access to Cisco infrastructure through a broad set of APIs. One the other hand, protocols such as OpenFlow concern themselves with communications and control amongst the different layers—in OpenFlow’s case, between the control plane and the forwarding plane. Some folks have referred to onePK as a “northbound” interface and protocols such as OpenFlow as “southbound” interfaces. While that might be helpful to understand the difference between the two technologies, I don’t think that this is a strictly accurate description. For one thing, developers can use onePK to directly interact with the hardware. Second, our support for other protocols such as OpenFlow is delivered through agents that are built using onePK.
That last part, about the agent support is actually pretty cool. We can create agents to provide support for whatever new protocols come down the pike by building them upon onePK. This allows flexibility and future-proofing while still maintaining a common underlying infrastructure for consistency and coherency.
For instance, we are delivering our experimental OF support by building it atop the onePK infrastructure. For customers this is a key point, they are not locked into a single approach—they can concurrently use native onePK access, protocol-based access, or traditional access (aka run in hybrid mode) as their needs dictate. Because we are building agents atop onePK, you don’t have to forgo any of the sophistication of the underlying infrastructure. For example, with the forthcoming agent for the ASR9K, we expect to have industry leading performance because of the level of integration between the OF agents and the underlying hardware made possible by onePK.
In closing, you can see how extensible our programmatic support is with the ability to use onePK natively or to support technologies and protocols as they are developed and released. This gives customers a remarkable level of flexibility, extensibility and risk mitigation.
Tags: ASIC, asr9k, ciscolive, netconf, onePK, OpenFlow, SDN
Part of the interest in programmatic interfaces is fueled by the desire to logically centralize network control functions. A global view of network state can have many benefits but it does not preclude the use of distributed protocols within the network. Network Programming Interfaces (NPIs) provide a facility to construct global state, mutate that state and distribute that state to the network which in combination with distributed protocols can aid in achieving greater network efficiencies, improve visibility, robustness and add to the value of the network overall. When used the right way, these NPIs will help set a new balance between centralized and distributed control. Key to this balance will be domain or deployment specific constraints. Read More »
Tags: API, Network programmability, onePK, OpenFlow, SDN
So, goings on with OpenFlow and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) are always lively topics for discussion. Since our announcement of Cisco ONE at CiscoLive, a number of folks have asked me if the announcement of our strategy changes our view of the ONF or the role of OpenFlow—the short answer is, simply, no.
We continue to strongly support ONF and its efforts related to SDN and our support has and will continue to been demonstrated in tangible ways. One of the elements of the Cisco ONE announcement is onePK, which is an enabling technology and one of the things it has enabled is the development of our OpenFlow agents. Similarly, we have introducing controllers and working with our customers to develop the technology.
What seems to surprise a lot of folks is that our contributions to ONF go beyond our own internal development efforts:
Technology Advisory Group - Chartered to provide high-level guidance on any technical issues faced by the ONF Board in which feedback is requested.
Hybrid Working Group - Document the requirements for a hybrid programmable forwarding plane (HPFP).
- Chaired by Jan Medved
- Hybrid Use-cases document: Co-author: Bhushan Kanekar
- Hybrid Switch Architecture -- Integrated: Co-author Bhushan Kanekar
- Hybrid Switch Architecture -- Ships in the night: Co-author Dave Meyer
- Terminology document: Co-authors: Dave Meyer, Bhushan Kanekar
Beyond these two working groups, the Cisco folks, including Jan Medved, David Meyer, Josh Littlefield, Andrew Thurber, Alex Clemm, Mark Szczesniak and Bhushan Kanekar have been active in other workgroups including the Configuration & Management Working Group and the Extensibility Working Group.
Beyond these efforts, David Meyer has been a rock star across the board including contributions to the “OF futures” discussions and recently received an award from the ONF for his contributions.
To net things out, Cisco expects to be a pacesetter with regards to network programmability and SDN and our efforts with ONF will continue to be part of that strategy.
Tags: ONF, Open Networking Foundation, OpenFlow, SDN, standards, Standrds