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Summary: Cisco is bringing together networking and programming

January 29, 2014 at 9:00 am PST

With the announcements on NX-OS APIs, Application Centric infrastructure APIs, python scripting support, SDN, open source projects OpenStack, OpenDaylight, and Puppet, I have opened an account at codecademy.com and will start with Python and Java. I see many late nights in my future. This stubborn old networker is finally onboard.

Read my full article for a closer look!

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IT’s New Role in Strategic Cloud Services

As cloud-enabled services transform IT departments everywhere, your path to success as an IT professional was made easier today with Cisco’s announcement to expand its cloud portfolio. With Cisco’s comprehensive cloud portfolio offerings, you can easily and securely combine workloads to manage cloud services across different clouds. By increasing your flexibility for strategic sourcing of cloud-enabled IT services, you can increase your influence as a trusted business partner to your stakeholders. And, as you take on these new strategic roles, Cisco and our channel partners can help you and your organization gain control of cloud services.

While defining and deploying a comprehensive cloud architecture presents tremendous opportunity for IT chiefs, this task is not without its challenges. Successful cloud implementation requires a cloud governance model fueled by strategic vision and a holistic approach that addresses all aspects of your data center and IT operations in the new application economy fueled by cloud.

ScottClark

Cisco: Cloud, ACI and the Application Economy

Following on the heels of our launch last fall of Application Centric Infrastructure, our enhanced Cisco Services for cloud portfolio provides strategic assistance to transition to a cloud governance model within your organization based on business outcomes. With our solutions spanning the plan, build, manage, and go-to-market phases of the cloud project lifecycle, Cisco Services has been recognized as an industry leader in cloud services by both IDC and Forrester.

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Top Things to Know About DFA Before Cisco Live Milan

January 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm PST

Two weeks ago, I presented a webinar on Dynamic Fabric Automation (DFA) and went over the allocated 1 hour to cover the content.  Yesterday, as I was doing follow up with a hands-on demo, I went over time too. This illustrates how rich DFA is, and how much there is to say about it! Dynamic Fabric Automation is an environment for data center automation that is centered on the CPOM (Central Point of Management), a set of services that are provided with the new Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) release 7.0(1).

The services available on the CPOM provide the following:

  1. Power On Auto Provisioning (POAP)
  2. Inter-switch link connection verification
  3. A single console for configuration
  4. Network Auto-Config Profile provisioning
  5. Message processing for external orchestrator
  6. Automatic host provisioning
  7. Embedded management for network monitoring and data collection

All of these services are provided using standard protocols and applications. For example, the POAP service uses DHCP, TFTP and SCP/SFTP, but using a combination of templates and a very intuitive and easy-to-use GUI, DCNM provides a simplified and systematic way of bringing up your data center fabric. The inter-switch link validation or cable consistency check allows the operator to verify the fabric connections against a predefined template and prevent unexpected connections to come up.

The Jabber process provides the single console for configuration, statistics and troubleshooting. Using any XMPP client, an operator can “chat” with the fabric devices; this approach offers the possibility to organize devices in chat groups that match their role, their location or simply some administrative set. With XMPP, a single command can be sent to multiple devices in a secure way.

The most important element of the CPOM is certainly the network profile provisioning. Read More »

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Is ACI Really SDN? One Point of View to Clarify the Conversation

January 22, 2014 at 10:00 am PST
rose

Would SDN, by any other name, still smell as sweet?

Perhaps I’m in the minority that is still frustrated by this, but as a marketing person who is tasked with explaining technology and solutions to customers and prospects, I feel hamstrung by a lack of a widely agreed upon definition of what is and is not “SDN” still. This usually comes up in discussions about our new Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), and how it compares to traditional SDN concepts, as well as alternative approaches, such as overlay networks advocated by VMware.

The topic came up again this with a NetworkWorld article in which the head of VMware’s network virtualization business is now saying, “SDN will never happen” (our rebuttal). Well, what is happening, if it’s not SDN? Or just because the technology has evolved, do we need to create a new term just because some early assumptions the industry made have changed?  As we start out a new year, I thought it a good time to try and reframe the definition, and look at how the trends in SDN may be shaping up to extend the concept into new areas.

Why do customers need SDN?

By early 2012, there was so much hype and expectations around Software Defined Networking, focused on the ability to “program” the network, that real customer use cases and the killer SDN app was lost in the conversation. But what slowly emerged, that is driving all the investment, pilots and product designs is a much better way to manage the data center and cloud network, and to automate IT tasks so that the infrastructure could respond dynamically to rapidly changing business conditions and requirements. The “intelligence” to make all that happen is moving from the network devices and device management consoles, to centralized policy-management platforms, orchestration tools and cloud-managers.

What’s caused the biggest evolution in SDN is the realization that very few organizations really have the desire, skills and incentives to write a new class of applications to a published API to program the network. These users are outlying use cases compared to the vast majority of organizations just looking to automate IT tasks, accelerate application deployment, make their cloud networks more flexible, and better align their IT infrastructure with business requirements. The focus has shifted from SDN being an open API/controller platform, to a platform capable of hosting a myriad of orchestration and IT workflow automation solutions that drive customers to their end goal. To that end, ACI is meeting all those objectives, and in more advanced and innovative ways than earlier SDN approaches.

Read More »

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My Top 7 Predictions for Open Source in 2014

My 2014 predictions are finally complete.  If Open Source equals collaboration or credibility, 2013 has been nothing short of spectacular.  As an eternal optimist, I believe 2014 will be even better:

  1. Big data’s biggest play will be in meatspace, not cyberspace.  There is just so much data we produce and give away, great opportunity for analytics in the real world.
  2. Privacy and security will become ever more important, particularly using Open Source, not closed. Paradoxically, this is actually good news as Open Source shows us again, transparency wins and just as we see in biological systems, the most robust mechanisms do so with fewer secrets than we think.
  3. The rise of “fog” computing as a consequence of the Internet of Things (IoT) will unfortunately be driven by fashion for now (wearable computers), it will make us think again what have we done to give up our data and start reading #1 and #2 above with a different and more open mind. Again!
  4. Virtualization will enter the biggest year yet in networking.  Just like the hypervisor rode Moore’s Law in server virtualization and found a neat application in #2 above, a different breed of projects like OpenDaylight will emerge. But the drama is a bit more challenging because the network scales very differently than CPU and memory, it is a much more challenging problem. Thus, networking vendors embracing Open Source may fare well.
  5. Those that didn’t quite “get” Open Source as the ultimate development model will re-discover it as Inner Source (ACM, April 1999), as the only long-term viable development model.  Or so they think, as the glamor of new-style Open Source projects (OpenStack, OpenDaylight, AllSeen) with big budgets, big marketing, big drama, may in fact be too seductive.  Only those that truly understand the two key things that make an Open Source project successful will endure.
  6. AI recently morphed will make a comeback, not just robotics, but something different AI did not anticipate a generation ago, something one calls cognitive computing, perhaps indeed the third era in computing!  The story of Watson going beyond obliterating Jeopardy contestants, looking to open up and find commercial applications, is a truly remarkable thing to observe in our lifespan.  This may in fact be a much more noble use of big data analytics (and other key Open Source projects) than #1 above. But can it exist without it?
  7. Finally, Gen Z developers discover Open Source and embrace it just like their Millennials (Gen Y) predecessors. The level of sophistication and interaction rises and projects ranging from Bitcoin to qCraft become intriguing, presenting a different kind of challenge.  More importantly, the previous generation can now begin to relax knowing the gap is closing, the ultimate development model is in good hands, and can begin to give back more than ever before. Ah, the beauty of Open Source…

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