If you are following the industry debates around Software Defined Networking (SDN), and are wondering “What really is SDN?”, “How the concepts of network virtualization and network programmability relate to SDN?” and perhaps more pertinently, “What can it do for my business” and “What network problems, indeed what IT problems, could it solve for my organization?” Well, don’t worry, you are in good company. Many customers looking at SDN are asking exactly these questions.  When I blogged the other week on “The Missing ‘S’ in the SDN Debate”, I mentioned I would write again in more depth on the offerings from Cisco Services that would help you identify and benefit from SDN, the next evolution in the network.  Today, then, I will share more information on the “Cisco Strategy and Analysis Services for Open Network Environment (ONE)”, which helps you gain an appreciation of what SDN is, what Cisco ONE is, and how it will help you.  This service has been design specifically to answer the questions above for you, enabling you to optimize your IT strategy to greatest effect.

First, if you are attending CiscoLive in Orlando this coming week (week of 24 June 2013), please do look out for our “Design Centers” in the Data Center Cloud or Enterprise Networks areas of the Cisco booth.  Here you can discuss your SDN and Cisco ONE questions with Cisco Services’ solutions architects, who have already been running strategy workshops with some of the early adopters of SDN and beta customers of Cisco ONE.


Cisco Strategy and Analysis Services for ONE
Cisco Strategy and Analysis Services for ONE

The “Cisco Strategy and Analysis Services for Open Network Environment (ONE)” takes the form of a workshop session with the line-of-business sponsor(s), enterprise architects, network manager, data center manager (as appropriate – SDN is not just a data center play, it has much broader implications) and other senior stakeholders.  These sessions designed in order to understand your business challenges and associated IT strategy, and then map out and validate specific “use cases” of Cisco ONE, to show how and where – only if appropriate – Cisco ONE, our approach to SDN, can help add value to your IT strategy, to your network architecture, in order to solve specific business challenges.  As the diagram above shows, we’ll help you assess and prioritise the most appropriate SDN-related use cases specific to your network challenges and opportunities, and devise a set of high level architecture strategy recommendations.

Why do we focus on the ‘use cases’ of this new technology?  First, there is significant confusion and hype in the industry around SDN.  By focusing on the key use cases, we will bring clarity to this debate, aligned to your specific business and network problems.  Second, the Cisco ONE strategy gives you choices, or “pillars” as I think of them:

(1)    You can choose a network API onto existing network features.

(2)    You can take the OpenFlow route.

(3)    Or you can exploit network overlay virtualization.

(4)    And – of course – you can choose to stick with the proven mechanisms in the existing network technologies.

My advice? I’m not going to advocate a particular mechanism here.  What I advocate is that you examine your choices.  As my favourite MBA strategy book advises, strategy formulation is all about identifying choices, and about examining each option or scenario in detail to understand the impact and benefit for your business.  And if you omit consideration of an option, you may end up building your future business and IT strategy on shaky foundations that won’t be robust to the changing demands we will all undoubtedly face in future.   Therefore I advocate that you don’t engage with a supplier, be they product and/or professional services supplier, who will restrict your range of choices.

The outcomes and value for you are very clear.  You’ll come out of this service with ….

  1. A number deeper understanding of SDN and Cisco ONE
  2. Insights into how the various “pillars” of the Cisco ONE strategy can help you
  3. Clear guidance on if, how and where SDN and Cisco ONE can solve pertinent business challenges,
  4. Insights into the business case for your specific organization
  5. And a set of next steps for you to consider if and when you are ready to design and implement

After we’ve helped you work out your SDN adoption strategy – in particular where it will and won’t help solve your business and networking technical problems – we can then help you prove that it will (or won’t!) work for you – via our Validation services for Cisco ONE.  And I’ll leave that as a topic for a future blog.  In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you on your thoughts, concerns and opportunities you see in SDN and Cisco ONE.  Feel free to respond here for discussion.


Stephen Speirs

SP Product Management

Cisco Customer Experience (CX)