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Cisco ONE Webcast Series: An Introduction to OpenFlow

UntitledTopics such as Software Defined Networking and programmable networks are of great interest to many network operators these days. With that in mind we’re pleased to kick off a new series of Webcasts to help our customer learn more about Cisco’s Open Network Environment strategy.

Please join us on February 14, 2013 (9:00 am PST, 5:00 pm GMT) for an educational webcast featuring David Ward, Cisco CTO, Engineering and SP Chief Architect, and Chair of the Technical Advisory Group at the Open Network Foundation (ONF). It’s a chance to learn more about OpenFlow and its components, the protocol evolution and use cases, as well as its integration into existing networks. Read More »

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Scaling the next frontier: Hybrid Clouds, Fabric Innovations and the Cisco Open Network Environment

First, the Internet of Things:

Consider these impressive stats shared in a keynote from Cisco’s CTO and CSO Padmasree Warrior last week at Cisco Live, London:   

  • 50 Billion “things” including trees, vehicles, traffic signals, devices and what not will be connected together by 2020 (vs. 1000 devices connected in 1984)
  • 2012 created more information than the past 5000 years combined!
  • 2/3rd of the world’s mobile data will be video by 2015.  

These statistics may seem a bit surprising, but the fact is, they cannot be ignored by CIOs and others chartered with the responsibility of managing IT infrastructure.

Impact on Enterprise and SP Infrastructure strategies

Further, these trends are not silo’d and are certainly not happening in a vacuum. For example, Bring-your-Own Device (BYOD) and the exponential growth of video endpoints, may be happening in the “access”, but they are causing a ripple effect upstream in the data center and cloud environments, and coupled with new application requirements, are triggering CIOs across larger Enterprise and Service Providers to rapidly evolve their IT infrastructure strategies.   

It is much the same with cloud infrastructure strategies. Even as Enterprises have aggressively adopted the journey to Private Cloud, their preference for hybrid clouds, where they can enjoy the “best of both worlds” – public and private have grown as well. However, the move to hybrid clouds has been somewhat hampered by challenges as outlined in my previous blog: Lowering barriers to hybrid cloud adoption – challenges and opportunities.

The Fabric approach

To address many of these issues, Cisco has long advocated the concept of a holistic data center fabric, heart of its Unified Data Center philosophy. The fundamental premise of breaking silos, and bringing together disparate technology silos across network, compute and storage is what makes this so compelling. At the heart of it, is the Cisco Unified Fabric, serving as the glue.

As we continue to evolve this fabric, we’re making three industry-leading announcements today that help make the fabric more scalable, extensible and open.

Let’s talk about SCALING the fabric first:

  1. Industry’s highest density L2/L3 10G/40G switch: Building upon our previous announcement of redefining fabric scale, this time we introduces a New Nexus 6000 family with two form factors – 6004 and 6001. We expect these switches to be positioned to meet increasing bandwidth demands, for spine/leaf architectures, and for 40G aggregation in fixed switching deployments. We expect the Nexus 6000 to be complementary to the Nexus 5500  and Nexus 7000 series deployments, and is not to be confused with the Catalyst 6500 or Nexus fabric interconnects.

Nexus 6000

The Nexus 6000 is built with Cisco’s custom silicon, and 1 micro-second port to port latency. It has forward propagated some of the architectural successes of the Nexus 3548, the industry’s lowest latency switch that we introduced last year. Clearly, as in the past, Cisco’s ASICs have differentiated themselves against the lowest common denominator approach of the merchant silicon, by delivering both better performance as well as greater value due to the tight integration with the software stack.

The Nexus 5500 incidentally gets 40G expansion modules, and is accompanied by a brand new Fabric Extender – the 2248PQ, which comes with 40G uplinks as well. All of these, along with the 10G server interfaces, help pair the 10G server access with 40G server aggregation.

Also as part of the first step in making the physical Nexus switches services ready in the data center, a new Network Analysis Module (NAM) on the Nexus 7000 also brings in performance analytics, application visibility and network intelligence. This is the first services module with others to follow, and brings in parity with the new vNAM functionality as well.

Next, EXTENSIBILITY:

  1. Industry’s simplest hybrid cloud solution: Over the last few years, we have introduced several technologies that help build fabric extensibility -- the Fabric Extender or FEX solution is very popular extending the fabric to the server/VM,  as are some of the Data Center Interconnect technologies like Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) or Location ID Separation Protocol (LISP), among others. Obviously each have their benefits.

The Nexus 1000V Intercloud takes these to the next level by allowing the data center fabric to be extended to provider cloud environments in a secure, transparent manner, while preserving L4-7 services and policies. This is meant to help lower the barriers for hybrid cloud deployments and is designed to be a multi-hypervisor, multi-cloud solution. It is expected to ship in the summer timeframe, by 1H CY13.

This video does a good job of explaining the concepts of the Intercloud solution:

Read More »

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Virtualization, SDN, and Radically Simplified Operations

January 2, 2013 at 8:37 am PST

Today many look to SDN as the next big revolution in Networking.  But why is there such hype?  What radical change in the economics of networking will shift the industry?  The answer is Virtualization.

Virtualization’s growth is still in its infancy, and many aspects remain unexplored.  Still there are aspects of which we are certain:

  • With an explosion in the number of Virtual devices, it is unaffordable for humans to remain in the loop for routine network operations.
  • Emerging business models are not achievable when (slow) humans are involved in the provisioning process. Read More »

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SDN: Are We There Yet?

October 19, 2012 at 11:12 am PST

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.

Read More »

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History as a guide to SDN’s coming evolution

August 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm PST

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 »

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