2013 was the year I started working on SDN – specifically in the area of devising professional services for Cisco ONE and Application Centric Infrastructure, ACI.  A few months ago, I used a compendium to summarize my Cisco Domain TenSM blogs.  This was well received, so  I thought it would be a good idea to wrap up the year with a summary of my 2013 journey into the SDN world, and in particular the adoption challenges I learned about along the way, some of which are illustrated in the diagram below.

SDN Adoption Challenges
SDN Adoption Challenges

As I started to learn about SDN earlier this year, I immediately noticed that the industry focus was squarely on the technology debate.  Few – and industry consultant Jim Meltzer talking in a Cisco blog was one of the first – were talking about the adoption challenges.   Hence my focus on shedding some light on this area.

Starting out, I asserted that – with the industry focusing on the “what”, the “why” (is it good for me) and “how” (do we get it done) aspects of SDN needed urgent focus.  I asserted that “services” constituted the missing “S” in the SDN debate.  I followed up by advocating that Cisco’s professional services for Cisco ONE were the best way to address this “why” and “how”.  And that the Cisco Strategy Workshop for Cisco ONE is the place to start – where Cisco Services experts will help brainstorm and evaluate the business relevance of key SDN use cases with you and your team, so that you can leverage our Cisco ONE consultants’ expertise directly.

Of course, the impacts of SDN are not only in the network layer.  Using the Cisco Domain Ten model, I showed how the impact of SDN and Cisco ONE is in fact much broader.  Operations management is one key area where these SDN impacts are often underestimated, for example – which is why we’ve made operations management a central component in our Cisco ONE professional services.

The introduction of Cisco ACI just last month (November 2013) – Application Centric Infrastructure – gives early adopters the chance to take a transformational step change in how they support applications in their network.  This is one key technology to watch in 2014.  And as I wrote, Cisco Services are already geared up to help customers assess the opportunity and impact of ACI in customer’s network.

I had the opportunity to talk to customers and partners at the London Gartner Data Center Conference at the end of November (2013) – it was terrific to hear their early excitement about the November ACI launch first hand.  In part 1 of my blog on this conference, I discussed how Gartner used their hype cycle concept to clearly place SDN at the “Peak of Inflated Expectations”.  and how they cautioned the conference attendees to expect “The Trough of Disillusionment” as issues are uncovered when the technologies start being used “in anger”.  In part 2 of my blog around this event, I covered some of the limitations of VMware NSX – which assumes that the network itself and sufficient bandwidth are always available.  And if you’ve ever had to troubleshoot a network, report a network fault, or suffer from poor bandwidth connections impacting your applications, you’ll realize the challenges here with NSX.

Finally, I most recently blogged about SDN use cases – and how we in Cisco recognize that you don’t always need SDN to address network challenges of today. Certainly, my advice is to figure out how to apply SDN, Cisco ONE and ACI strategically: use SDN to transform your network operations and develop new IT services – don’t simply use it to patch problems that should have been solved by your network and applications vendors – don’t, as one of our competitors advised, use SDN as a “band aid” to fix inherent design limitations of certain desktop sharing collaboration applications, for example.

2013 has been an exciting year – I look forward to writing more on SDN adoption challenges in 2014 – and showing you how we in Cisco Services can help you avoid, solve and exploit  them!





Stephen Speirs

SP Product Management

Cisco Customer Experience (CX)