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Open Networking with Cisco ACI and Open NX-OS

Over the last couple of years, Data Centers have become a key focus on networking innovations, particularly around the broad area of Software Defined Networking (SDN).  At Cisco, for nearly one year, we have been shipping our new way to build a Data Center with our Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) solution. ACI relies on the vision of using a policy based methodology to enable network switches, services, and hypervisors to establish network connectivity among each other.

At the Open Networking User Group (ONUG), a survey reports that 3% of the networks run by ONUG members are built on open networking whereas 71% are not open at all.  The assessment of any system being declared “open” is a subjective term.  At Cisco we have built a foundational infrastructure in ACI, that relies on open protocols and programming constructs such as APIs, in order to provide a solution where the network becomes ‘invisible’ to the end user, and the network devices and services modules, such as firewalls, load balancers, physical and, virtual switches are automatically configured based on the end user intent. Read More »

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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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ESG Webinar on Virtual Networking and Physical-Virtual Consistency

Last quarter I had the chance to record a video webinar with Bob Laliberte, Senior Analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), where we talked about the basics of virtual networking, as well as why organizations need consistency across their physical and virtual network infrastructures.

Bob presents some great research data on virtual network overlays, and talks about what features customers are looking for, some of the technical challenges in maintaining consistency with the physical infrastructure, and how organizations are rolling out this key technology. Naturally, I relate a lot of his insights to our own Nexus 1000V portfolio, and our own virtual networking strategy. It’s about 36 mins and I really enjoyed working with Bob on this video. Hopefully you’ll find it informative as well.

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