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Software Defined Wide Area Network Orchestration: Take Control of your Network

The WAN: Then and Now

The Wide Area Network (WAN) has been at the foundation of enterprise networks for decades: responsible Untitledfor connecting people, applications and data across a large number of locations.  Traditionally, the WAN was relatively static and a “set it and forget it” configuration methodology was acceptable and effective. Management tools were simple and straightforward, yet limited. As an example, while studying for my Routing and Switching CCIE lab exam 15 years ago, I had to become proficient in command line interface, node-by-node configuration and WAN troubleshooting.  In order to ensure timely completion of the exam, the use of notepad (scripts) and CLI shortcuts was imperative.

15 years later, many of us still manage our WAN’s in the same way: using text files, simple automation tools and scripting engines on a node-by-node basis.  While this is reasonably effective on a small-scale network, similar to Metcalfe’s Law, the complexity of the network is equal to the number of nodes on the network, squared.

Today, application, cloud, security and other imperatives require the WAN to be dynamic and flexible to meet business needs.  The agility and frequency of change the WAN requires is increasing exponentially.  In addition, the price/performance of broadband relative to private lines (MPLS/Frame Relay) and the availability of cellular (3G/4G/LTE) has encouraged the adoption of hybrid architectures reducing cost, but increasing complexity.  The business is asking IT to do more with less, leverage existing hardware to contain costs, support past and future applications, and be more agile. In order to keep up with these transitions and business requirements, the enterprise needs better tools.  Read More »

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Bringing Software-Defined Networking to the WAN

Today, I am pleased to announce that we will be showcasing the  Cisco Intelligent WAN (IWAN) Application for the APIC-EM controller with early adopter customers at Cisco Live San Diego next week. For those of you familiar with Cisco’s SDN solutions, the APIC-EM builds on Cisco’s ACI architecture to extend Software Defined Networking from the Data Center to the WAN and Access areas of your network.

Before diving into the IWAN App, you might be wondering what is “Software Defined Networking for the WAN” or “SD-WAN” is. The simple answer is that the same benefits that SDN brings to the Data Center can be applied to the Wide Area Network. SDN for the WAN is all about moving from feature by feature configuration to policy and intent driven management. Benefits achieved include reduced costs to operate the WAN and optimize bandwidth. It’s about improving your application experience, enabling digital experiences in your remote branches, and enabling you to move to cloud based applications without giving up on application performance. Finally, it’s about WAN resiliency. Crucially, you must achieve all of this while maintaining end-to-end security and this requires enhancing security capabilities.

Sounds like a lot? It is, and that’s why we (and most of the industry) are so excited about the changes happening in the WAN. To boil it down, as I talk to customers about evolving their WAN architecture to meet the growing bandwidth and performance demands generated by mobile devices, digital stores, cloud based applications, and IoT sensors – to name a few – customers are focused on a short list of business outcomes:

  • Greater business agility with faster application delivery
  • Reducing costs with simplified operations and management
  • Improving business continuity with high availability and resiliency

If these business outcomes sound familiar it is because we are addressing them today with our Intelligent WAN Solution (IWAN) and have been talking about them for the past few years. What’s unique about Cisco is that we have built IWAN to be integrated with our industry leading ISR and ASR 1000 routers while many others have chosen to go with a pure overlay. By combining the strengths of IOS XE software with rock solid hardware to provide detailed visibility across all layers of the network, the Cisco IWAN solution has a much more intimate understanding of network conditions and can make better and faster decisions about how to direct traffic over the WAN. IWAN also retains all of the inherent resiliency, security, and self-healing aspects that routing protocols were developed to provide. Combine this with Cisco’s industry-leading security portfolio as well as our end-to-end vision for policy based infrastructure (ACI) and we have a solution is pretty hard to beat. Read More »

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How We Migrate Hundreds of Applications to the New ACI Platform

I am in the trenches of our migration to an Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) platform, helping my team transition hundreds of applications. Cisco IT has broken down the migration process into nine steps: Read More »

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Criteria for SDN/NFV Vendor Selection – Heads Up on Cisco Live

Cisco Live US 2015 is just around the corner, and will start in San Diego on June 7th, running through Thursday 11th June.  I’m surprised and honoured to be one of the folks wearing a “Cisco Live Speaker” shirt, and I’m looking forward to sharing some of what I’ve been working on over the past year or two.

I’ll be basing a lot of my presentation off of as yet unpublished, independent market research, into the challenges of SDN and NFV adoption, some of which are illustrated in the diagram below.  The final copy of this brand new market research report landed on my desk just last weekend – May 23rd 2015.  Hot off the press, it was funded by Cisco but conducted completely independently by a leading market research company.  The intent of this report is to guide our SDN and NFV professional services strategy. Some of the insights, however, are too useful not to share with you!  Covering a global audience, with separate questionnaires for service provider and enterprise businesses, we had set out to increase our understanding of the latest challenges of adoption of SDN and NFV as appopriate in (enterprise) businesses, including public sector, and service provider markets.

Some of the Topics in my Cisco Live Presentation

Questions I Will Discuss In My Cisco Live Presentation

 

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ITD: Winner of the Best of Interop 2015

When the Best of Interop 2015 award winners were announced at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, the ITD team members couldn’t control their emotions. This team is well known to work in a startup-mode — comes up with new ideas, builds a prototype, demonstrates it to the executives and SEs, goes into execution mode, and delivers a world class solution.

As the leader of this team, I was asked by several media representatives for an interview. Here is an interview by Information Week news desk (watch full-screen for HD):

ITD (Intelligent Traffic Director) is now shipping on Nexus 9k/7k/5k series of switches.

Here is an informative blog on ITD.

 

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