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SDN Reflections on the London Gartner Data Center Conference – Part 1

December 6, 2013 at 4:58 am PST

Last week I was in London for the Gartner Data Center Conference.  As always there was a wide range of interesting topics being discussed, all very useful.  Working in Cisco Data Center Services, I am interested in many data center topics, however this year I was interested to hear perspectives on SDN, how the market is evolving, and how the attendees -- including many senior IT practitioners -- are considering SDN adoption.

London's Big Ben at Night

London’s Big Ben at Night

From a Cisco perspective, we were showcasing the recently launched Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), which generated a lot of interest.  There is growing awareness among our customers that ACI could do for networks and applications what the Cisco UCS has done for the server market (with UCS server profiles in the latter proving a good analogy to help customers understand the potential of ACI).

So what were some of my key takeaways from the SDN discussion I heard here?  And what were the questions that in my view are still not being discussed sufficiently across the industry?

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Cisco Domain Ten: The Compendium

October 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm PST

It’s hard to believe but it’s ten months since I first blogged on  Cisco Domain TenSM,  which is Cisco Service’s framework to guide you on your path to data center and cloud transformation. I’ve now covered all ten domains of this concise and powerful model.  I’ll now collect all articles -- including my most Cisco Domain Ten article around the breadth of SDN adoption challenges -- into this one article as a useful summary.  So forgive the brevity and please do dive into the links/URLs for more information if indeed you missed these articles first time. And if you’ve read every article and watched our VoDs, please do let me know what you thought of the series -- oh, and thanks!

Going back, now, I started in December 2012, with our launch of Cisco Domain Ten, where I set the focus for my series of articles as cloud transformation.  Let me summarize each article with (and for those that know me you’ll know this is a struggle :-) ) just one sentence with the key message from each blog/domain.

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#EngineersUnplugged S3|Ep9: The Underlay Network (SDN w/PacketPushers)

August 21, 2013 at 4:13 pm PST

Welcome back loyal viewers--this is an episode not to be missed. Engineers Unplugged is thrilled to welcome the Packet Pushers (@packetpushers), aka Greg Ferro (@etherealmind) and Ethan Banks (@ecbanks), as they discuss the underlay network. Yes, they’re showing us the underside and future of software defined networking.

Watch and see:

Welcome to Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:

  1. Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
  2. Subscribe to the podcast here: engineersunplugged.com
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

And it wouldn’t be Engineers Unplugged without unicorns, a software defined one here.

Packet Pushers, aka Greg Ferro and Ethan Banks, plus unicorn!

Packet Pushers, aka Greg Ferro and Ethan Banks, plus unicorn!

We’ll see you next week at VMworld! Be sure to drop by the Cisco booth and try your hand at unicorn whiteboarding.

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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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Emerging SDN Skills and the Cisco Approach

The Software Defined Networking (SDN) market evolution is having a major effect on networking job roles. New careers in IT are being built, focusing more on complex services and architectures rather than systems.

A recent survey by Cisco found that 71 percent of IT professionals intend on using SDN technology this year for a number of reasons, ranging from creating more programmable networks to simply reducing costs.

With these shifts in mind, new talent needs arise for IT professionals to accommodate evolving industry job roles.

Through the years, market transitions and technology disruptions have introduced IT knowledge gaps. Knowledge of networking fundamentals is no longer enough. Now, network professionals must understand networking systems with integrated security, wireless and voice capabilities. Cisco is leading the charge to provide direction and proper learning paths and resources to help address these challenges.

Listening to our community, we’ve determined new skills and job roles require a deeper understanding of deployments and troubleshooting of SDN architectures, as well as familiarity with SDN specific troubleshooting tools.

Just as we have been all along, Learning@Cisco is investing heavily in creating education and certifications programs to help our community evolve skills in order to continue to be the driving force of innovation in networking.

Watch below as I discuss Learning@Cisco’s efforts around SDN further.

Stay tuned for future updates to our certification and education program at: www.ciscolearningnetwork.com

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