By John Chapman, Cisco Fellow, CTO, Cable Access BU
This week, we and 10,000 or so hard-core engineering colleagues within the cable industry descend upon the city once known as the cable capital of the world — Denver, Colorado — and, like it’s been since the earliest days of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers’ annual Cable-Tec Expo, a trending topic, now and forever, is bandwidth.
The reasons why are obvious, but indulge me a brief recap: Consumer usage of broadband grows at an compound annual rate of 50% or more, ever since about 2009, when Netflix began streaming video, in addition to mailing DVDs. Add to that the sheer number of video-capable, IP-connected screens we all use, and the fact that video itself is only scheduled to get bigger (we’re looking at you 4K), and it’s easy to envision why it’s a considerable challenge to keep the cable infrastructure updated, and capable of ever-increasing carrying capacities.
Here in Denver, we are focused on this challenge. Big picture, we are “transforming” cable access from a DOCSIS focus, to integrate DOCSIS with service provider WiFi, PON & FTTx, and MetroE into a single, easily- managed portfolio, which only Cisco can deliver. Doubleclicking on the DOCSIS pillar alone, we are taking the CMTS architecture and redefining it to deliver far more bandwidth, for far less cost. We see two technologies that stand out: Read More »
The last several months have been a roll with several customers, channel partner and technology partner engagements. With the ACI starter kits and lab bundles shipping, customers can bring this solution into their labs and subsequently into their production Pods with the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) and the Nexus switching platforms. We see a healthy interest in these kits with customers as they explore its SDN capabilities. Several ecosystem partners like F5 and Citrix have started to ship device packages. We just came off a company wide sales conference at Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago that was hugely energizing. Policy as a means to drive automation, security and scale is now the major focus area for SDN as outlined originally by Cisco as more industry vendors now endorse the vision as evidenced by initiatives like OpenStack Congress. Investment protection continues to be a major Overall the new fiscal year promises to be an exciting one.
Soni Jiandani on SDN Central -- Click for Q&A
Following up on the Unleashing IT magazine (ACI special edition) released last month, I wanted to share the momentum we’re experiencing with customers and partners as the acceleration continues. As John Chambers had outlined during the last earnings call, the adoption rate has been off to a tremendous start with some of the customers and partners featured in the video above.
We also continue to take the opportunity to answer questions as the vision around ACI continues to crystallize and rapidly evolves from concept to hard reality. This week we took the opportunity to have a Q&A session with SDN central. Soni Jiandani, SVP of Insieme Networks Business Unit at Cisco led the conversation. The featured interview can be accessed here. Soni crisply articulates the ACI value proposition while addressing some of the top of mind questions that come from the media.
As new technologies emerge and replace traditional ones, IT teams are discovering that building an infrastructure around new functionality is advantageous in a slew of ways.
One such disruptive technology gaining ground is software defined networking, or SDN.
The premise of SDN is to allow the user to determine how the network behaves by decoupling the control plane from the data plane. Control planes are essentially the “data directors,” instructing the data plane on where to transfer packets of data. The data plane then establishes the best path and carries the data to its destination. By separating these two functions, the user can program the open-source network to act in accordance with business requirements—using a central management interface in a vendor-neutral manner.
Cisco ACI combines hardware, policy-based control systems, and software to deliver management automation, programmatic policy, and dynamic workloads. It’s built around the application, not the network.
What’s the advantage? Doing so enables greater support for scalability, a more dynamic network, and centrally-defined portable policies—all of which lend to faster application provisioning and a more efficient environment.
While many SDN solutions are focused solely on software and virtualization, the reality is that hardware still exists and is an integral part of the network. Cisco ACI leverages existing hardware—because no matter how de-emphasized it may become, the physical infrastructure remains important.
As Cisco senior vice president of marketing Soni Jiandani tells Unleashing IT, “ACI is SDN plus a whole lot more. Other SDN models stop at the network. ACI extends the promise of SDN—namely agility and automation—to the applications themselves. Through a policy-driven model, the network can cater to the needs of each application, with security, network segmentation, and automation at scale. And it can do so across physical and virtual environments, with a single pane of management.”
And Shashi Kiran, senior director of market management at Cisco, shares his views on Cisco ACI in this blog.
When was the last time you won the lottery? If you are like me, it’s a pretty rare occasion indeed. The same probability can be applied to increasing the budget allocation for any business and especially for service providers. What can service providers do to save money now, enabling them to invest in new services and boost revenues? Network functions virtualization (NFV) comes to the rescue, with help of course, from software defined networking (SDN), and open source innovations.
SDN and NFV represent a significant change in networking as we currently know it. Together and separately, both target cost savings, operational complexity, and network optimization – and both hold much promise for the operator. As with all things offering great potential rewards, one must balance these benefits and address the associated risks accordingly when deploying them.
For service providers, the data center is leading target for SDN and NFV deployments. Given all the activity focused on cloud computing, content delivery, and anything-as-a-service (XaaS) offerings, the service provider data centers must advance across many fronts (security, automation, mobility, reliability analytics, and provisioning) to be successful.
Service provider customers expect more. The pace of change around us is not just constant but continuing to accelerate. To stay competitive with the nimble new players in the market, service providers need to change how they engage all of their end customers. Not exactly an easy challenge to overcome, but rapid and successful business transformation will put operators right in the middle of a world of new opportunities to capture customer mindshare. Exciting times are ahead!
So, what will it take for service providers to save money on their current service offerings, enabling them to invest and expand their businesses? Positive outcomes are made possible by an open, agile, and application centric approach, combining emerging Software-Defined Network (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), and Open API technologies … not just to the network… but to all of their business processes.