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SDN 101: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Do It

Despite all the buzz about software-defined networking (SDN), many organizations don’t yet have a clear idea of how it will benefit them. In this blog, I’ll tackle the what and why of SDN, and explain the different approaches you can consider.

What: A Disruptive Approach to Network Control

For the last quarter century, network devices have performed two types of processing:

  • The data plane looks at a routing table to decide where to forward packets. This processing takes place in dedicated hardware ASICs.
  • The control plane takes care of everything else, such as spanning tree, AAA, exporting NetFlow statistics, SNMP, and more. The control plane is implemented in software, and you can think of it as the brains of the network element.

So, if your network includes 200, 2000, or 20,000 network devices, that means you’re managing 200, 2000, or 20,000 control planes and keeping all of them up to date. Read More »

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SDN in the Enterprise: aligning with business needs

July 31, 2013 at 8:00 am PST

There is always a well-known solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong. -- H.L. Mencken

As a long-time practitioner of the art of beating computers and communications systems into submission, I am as enamored with the latest gee-wiz technology trends and tools as the next self-respecting geek. I’m also not completely above the allure of the herd-mentality; all for one and all for the new tech. As an IT Director looking at the business side of the house, however, and having to translate all of the latest trends into actionable business intelligence and strategy, I am far less quick to jump on the latest bandwagon. Sometimes what my cohort are talking about, and what I find fascinating personally, isn’t what the business needs. Often, it’s not even close.

It can be a challenging thing, trying to match potential technology solutions to existing or future business problems. It can be even more challenging separating the latest trends and market buzz-word bingo, from the actual solutions that will help my company move forward. Finding those solutions can sometimes seem like a search through the proverbial haystack.

Read More »

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Securing the Open Network Environment

With all of the focus on Software Defined Networking, open networking, API’s, you name it, I do often wonder how, with all of this ‘openness’, does an Enterprise keep their network secure? After years of security teams working  tirelessly to protect their business critical infrastructure does this paradigm shift where anyone can write an application to control, get the intelligence from, and manipulate the network become the reason for many a sleepless night for security experts around the world? And on the other hand, can this new way to manage the network help in threat detection and prevention?

If you, like me, are wondering the same thing, I invite you to register here for the 5th session of the Cisco Open Network Environment Webcast Series titled “Securing the Open Network Environment” broadcasting on July 30th at 9 a.m. PST.

Jon Oltsik, ESG, Security, Mike Nielsen, Bret Hartman, ONE, SDN

Join Mike Nielsen and Bret Hartman from Cisco as well as Jon Oltsik from Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) for a great discussion featuring live Q&A throughout the session.

If you have missed any of our previous sessions featuring introductions to OpenFlow, OpenStack, Cisco’s onePK, and Using Open Source in Networked Environments, please visit www.cisco.com/go/onewebcasts.

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The Programmable Network: Elastic Services

In our last blog on “Advanced Flow Control” we used the metaphor of a three-dimensional collection of intersecting highways of many different kinds with a wide array of vehicles carrying various types of passengers to represent the Internet of Everything­ (IoE).  The IoE concept has come a long way since it was first coined by the Auto-ID Center. Today the concept has broadened into a catch all for current and future network-connected endpoints, from smart meters to vending machines, security cameras, all forms of transportation, and consumer electronics ─ not to mention PCs, tablets, and smartphones. People with electronic tags will one day be connected to the IoE to monitor their health. Many dogs and cats already have chips for location tracking. The opportunity for new services will be unlimited and customers will expect instant access to networking resources to launch, alter, or eliminate those services.

Instant Resources for a Spontaneous World Read More »

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Cisco at Hadoop Summit 2013

At this year’s Hadoop Summit 2013, I presented on the “The Data Center and Hadoop” which built upon the past two years of testing the effects of Hadoop on the data center infrastructure. What makes Hadoop an important framework to study in the data center is that it contains a distributed system that combines both a distributed file system (HDFS) along with an execution framework (Map/Reduce). Further it builds upon itself and can provide other real-time or key/value stores(HBASE) along with many other possibilities. Each comes with its own set of infrastructure requirements that include throughput sensitive components along with latency sensitive components. Further in the Data Center,  understanding how all these components work together is key to optimized deployments.

After studying many of these components and their effects, the very data we were alanyzing became a topic of a lot of our discussions. We combined application performance data, application logs, compute data AND network data to build a complete picture of what is happening in the data center.

With the advent of programmable networks (aka “Software Defined Networking”) it is not only important to make the network more application aware, but to also know where and how to analyze and make the right connections between the application and the network.

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