Guess what? Convergence is happening again, and it’s happening at a faster pace with more profound implications than I have never seen before.
Those of us who’ve been in the industry a long time have seen convergence happen over the years across various technologies and areas of IT. This time, we’re talking about convergence across the infrastructure—in wired and wireless, in physical and virtual, in collaboration and social, and in on-prem and off-prem resources. Convergence brings together the applications and infrastructure in new and more flexible ways, opening up new opportunities.
Getting this convergence right is a big deal. And it’s a key to becoming an innovative enterprise. It’s clear that if you’re not innovating, you’re going to miss out on opportunities to be strategically valuable to your organization.
This convergence is called different things by different people and firms. IDC calls it “third platform” while Gartner talks about ‘Nexus of Forces.’ In any case, they’re all talking about technologies, such as cloud, mobility, data and network programmability, which are blurring and blending. And in addition, the combination of these technologies is collectively making the Internet of Everything possible.
The industry has been buzzing over the past years around Next Generation of Software Defined and Application Centric networks. If you missed that, it means that you were probably on planet …Zircon (?).
In his recent blog, Colin Lynch @UCSguru and Cisco Champion talks about the skills that network engineers will need in order to design, support and deploy these new networks.
Colin designs and deploys large data centers for a Gold Partner in the UK, and is CCIE#7064 as well as holding certifications in VMware, EMC and NetApp. His Blog is http://ucsguru.com which covers all Datacenter topics but focuses on Cisco UCS. Recently Colin participated to a lively Cisco Champion podcast with Insieme/Cisco Joe Onisick @jonisick on ACI and Nexus 9000.
When recognizing that the traditional networks will not go away overnight , giving ample room for people with the current skill sets, Colin explains what he sees happening, and the course of actions he already took . “I’m certainly no programmer, but I see having basic programming competency as the next skill required to remain in that band of “High Demand” networking professionals.” A reality that many other network engineers start to embrace
A reality that Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior @padmasree emphasized at a recent NPR broadcast for the Commonwealth Club of California, as she highlighted the importance for the new generation of professionals to learn a programming language . Listen to Padmasree’s speech on “The Business of Innovation : Today and Tomorrow”
Without necessary being amongst those who tend to think “that not being able to code could well be the next definition of literacy” as Colin questions in his blog , more and more network engineers seems to take this steps , including Bill Carter @billyc5022 , who shared also his new skill sets in a recent blog Cisco is bringing together networking and programming .
To better understand Colin’s point of view and discover what are his first steps to be ready for this new breed of networks, read his blog The “Next Gen” Network Engineer” . Tell us what are your first steps , if any.
You may want also to check this video with Colin debating with Hal Rotenberg @harl9000 on the very same topic ”ACI and Traditional Networking”
Many of the existing switch and wireless infrastructures that were deployed 5 or more years ago were not designed for BYOD, pervasive mobility, advanced security, SDN and more. Let us look at these trends and the benefits of upgrading the network infrastructure to the latest switching and wireless products.
BYOD and Mobility
There are multiple dimensions in which BYOD and mobility are pressuring the existing network. An average user now has 3x more devices. A company of 1,000 users seems like a company of 3,000 users. And, Internet of Things devices like sensors, CCTVs, and building automation are being connected to the network. Yesterday’s network cannot sustainably handle the exponential growth of these devices and applications. Upgrade to the latest switches and wireless infrastructure will give you more performance in terms of higher switching capacity, converged wired-wireless access & more processing power to handle the growth of devices/apps. The benefits are network can scale easily to support the influx of mobile & connected devices and their applications and your users get the same excellent experience whether wired or mobile. Read More »
If you guessed that it logs into a switch at 172.16.66.1 and disables interface F0/1 for 5 seconds and re-enables it, then you guessed right.
Let us talk a little about putting the “ability” in programmability. Did I code in college? Yes. Was I good at it? Not really. Dijksta’s algorithm (the actual coding bit) drove me crazy, however, actually using and operating networks quickly became my cup of tea. I became a network geek. Subnets? Awesome! Cisco CLI? Sweet. Using Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol (EIGRP)? Yay! AVVID? Even better. But I never wanted to see C++ or another “program” again.
Fast forward to 2014. I’m still a networking guy but now I’m seeing code again. The good news is, maybe like you, I hang out with some really cool people. I challenged a couple of them to help me demonstrate program “ability” to networking people on the show floor at CiscoLive Milan…with me as the test subject! Read More »
Last week was a memorable one for me in more ways than one. First, the unveiling of Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) specifics by John Chambers and his Executive Management team via a public webcast on Nov 6. The announcement was a big success and received broad endorsement and support from a big eco-system of Partners, customers, Press and Analysts.
Second, personally it is special to me, as I became part of the ACI Marketing team two weeks ago, to join life in fast lane. In this blog I want to share my excitement with you, and focus on nuances of ACI that do not overlap with blogs already posted by Shashi Kiran and Harry Petty.
The excitement started with an ACI boot-camp, I attended last week. In 2 days, I got a good overview on the architectural advantages of Cisco ACI and the Datacenter pain-points it addresses. By now, many of you would have learnt that ACI is all about Datacenter agility and automation. Sounds easy, but you may be wondering how to attain this goal. I will give examples from my career as a software engineer in the 90’s, when I worked for Sun Microsystems. Those days, I wrote code for 2 –tier and three-tier enterprise software applications that required global deployment and access by users on the company-wide WAN.
My problem started as I went from the Application Development phase to Test/QA phase. I had to run from pillar to post coordinating my application deployment needs with security, network and database/storage admins to identify the best rollout strategy. There was no collaboration between Dev and Ops teams. The alpha and beta test phases required testing on multiple subnets, across geographies, via multiple protocols like to establish proper SLA/functioning of the application. If my application had to open say, a firewall port to allow a particular traffic type (non http) it was next to impossible to get security ops to agree. Opening non-http ports were considered a security risk. In addition, tight coupling of network constructs like subnets, VLAN, security, network services, IP addresses etc with one another, further impacted the network flexibility and application deployment process. (Refer to Figure-1 below for details)
With ACI architecture, tight coupling between network constructs can be eliminated. Figure-1 above, illustrates this approach via Abstraction.