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Application Developers and Network Programmers: The Superheroes of Cisco Live

- July 6, 2017 - 8 Comments

An explosive opening


Picture this… I’m at the Cisco Live opening keynote.  Chuck Robbins has an explosive opening with heart-pounding Thunder and immersive light visuals.  Over 26,000 people are in the stands cheering.  Chuck Robbins opens by introducing the new era in networking and makes Cisco’s biggest networking launch in over a decade.  And, Chuck talks about how the new network is programmable!  Then, I hear Chuck say “Susie Wee and the team… DevNet… DevNet… DevNet…” and he jokes “I get twenty bucks every time I say DevNet!”

Then, Chuck is on stage with Apple CEO Tim Cook.  I’m thinking, “this is epic. I’m here with two of the most important leaders of global digital transformation.  They’re discussing applications and the network!  This is huge!”  Tim Cook is talking about the importance of developers when I hear Chuck say, “DevNet… Susie that’s 80 bucks.”  Boom!  Chuck’s on stage with Tim Cook … and he’s talking about DevNet!

“80 bucks” becomes the joke of Cisco Live… and I feel compelled to tell everyone that I never asked Chuck to say DevNet. But inside the DevNet team and I are thinking— This is so cool! It is awesome to have a CEO who fully understands and appreciates APIs, developers, the ecosystem, and DevNet, the developer program and community we have been building with all our hearts.  Chuck understands how strategic DevNet is to Cisco.  He fully appreciates the value of APIs for empowering Cisco partners and customers to build solutions, to innovate, on top of Cisco platforms.

As always, the DevNet team was in full gear for Cisco Live. Let me share some of the highlights.

DevNet launches the DevNet DNA developer center for programming the intent-based network

The main theme of Cisco Live was the launch of the Intent-based Network, which is Cisco’s biggest networking launch in over a decade. In my opinion, the most exciting feature of the new network is that programmability is now built into the network from top to bottom – from apps to infrastructure – from DNA Center to the Cat 9k to the ASIC in the Cat 9k. DevNet played a major role in this launch and we created a whole set of resources to help app developers and network developers learn about and get hands on with network programmability. Check out our new DevNet DNA Developer Center to see demos, take learning labs, and program on real kit in the developer sandbox.

The Data Center is programmable too

We kicked off our Cisco Live DevNet activities the weekend before Cisco Live… We held two DevNet Express events: one on Cloud Collaboration and our first-ever DevNet Express on Data Center Programmability! We covered data center programmability starting with coding basics, working our way through UCS programmability, and making our way to IOS-XE and ACI. Don’t worry if you missed it- together with our Cisco SEs and partners we host DevNet express events around the world and there is sure to be one coming to a location near you!

Innovation keynote on the Rise of the Network-Powered Developer

I gave an innovation keynote where I discussed the opportunities that arise for application developers and network developers now that the new network is truly programmable. I built on the theme I discussed at DevNet Create and InterOp ITX keynotes on the changing boundaries of where applications meet infrastructure, now that the infrastructure is programmable, but I was able to dive in deeper now that we unveiled the programmable intent-based network. I had a guest speaker from Apple join me on stage to share the details of the innovations we developed together with our Apple-Cisco relationship, ranging from wireless to security to collaboration. Together we showed the benefits that app developers and network developers have when using APIs in the network. We discussed the Apple-Cisco Fast Lane offering where fast-lane enabled iOS apps can work better on a fast-lane enabled enterprise network. I discussed the new DevNet Fast Lane validation program that gives DevNet fast-lane validation to these iOS apps. This is a true demonstration of the benefits app developers can get from a programmable network.

Cisco CTOs discuss APIs and the future of IoT, Networking, Security, Collaboration, and the Cloud

We hosted a CTO panel in the DevNet Zone with Cisco CTOs John Apostolopoulos (Enterprise Networking), Shaun Cooley (IoT and Industry Verticals), Colin Kincaid (Service Provider), Jonathan Rosenberg (Collaboration), Lew Tucker (Cloud), and myself. The conversation ranged from machine learning and artificial intelligence in networks to new wireless technologies that can detect people’s heartbeats in neighboring rooms to application and infrastructure technologies needed for AR/VR and gaming applications (yes, we talked about Zork). Colin observed that we have entered an era where cross training of skills is critical to project success, career success, and indeed to innovation.  Network engineers need to acquire coding skills.  Developers need to understand how to interface with network infrastructure.  That’s why, for the past three years, DevNet has been developing learning labs, building developer sandboxes, and growing a community to help networkers and application developer alike acquire the skills they need to realize success and grow their careers.

DevNet sits squarely at the intersection of programmable networks and application development.  There are now literally hundreds of learning labs on DevNet, organized into learning tracks.  Hundreds of well documented APIs ready to download and use.

Activity in the DevNet Zone

Getting back to the DevNet Zone … I knew people were psyched about the programmability aspects of Cisco’s ground shaking intent-based network announcement.  Still, the stampede to the DevNet Zone when they opened the doors on Tuesday morning, was quite a sight to see.  It’s day two…it’s Vegas.  You’d think maybe the first sessions of the morning would get off to a slow start.  No way, and a quick look at the morning session line-up tells you what triggered the stampede:

  • Hank Preston’s “How to be a Network Engineer in a Programmable Age.”
  • Karthik Kumaravel’s “Exploring Network Programmability with Python and YANG.
  • Ralph Schmieder’s workshop on “NETCONF/RESTCONF/YANG API.”

All three sessions, along with Ryan Shoemaker’s “Leveraging Python on IOS XE,” Bryan Byrne’s “Application Hosting on IOS XE,” and Adam Radford’s “APIC-EM API” were part of DevNet’s Network Programmability Foundations Learning Path that ran throughout Cisco Live.  All played to standing room only audiences.

Of course it wouldn’t be a DevNet Zone without mixing a healthy dose of fun in with the learning, and CLUS 2017 was no exception.  The Sandbox team brought their new IoT foosball table (featuring IOx, Docker, Python, Collaboration APIs, Arduinos and sensors) where participants could play and learn how any application can be integrated and tested with Cisco APIs via the Sandbox for rapid application development.

Also added for the first time was the DevNet Escape Room.  Attendees could grab a few friends and sign up to be locked into the Escape Room where they had to use their API skills to solve challenges in network programmability, IoT, and collaboration to pull off a superhero rescue of Captain Cloud from captivity by the evil Shadow.  Lots of fun.

There was far more happening in the DevNet Zone.  Sessions and hands-on workshops in IoT, Cloud, Data Center, Collaboration, Security, Mobility, and Open Source also drew crowds.  Session presentations for all are available now, and video replays will be available within a couple weeks.

Design thinking in the DevNet Zone

DevNet developers are solving problems and building solutions every day. We think it is important for our developers to have another skill in their tool chest… Design Thinking. I’m very excited to announce that we are adding Design Thinking to DevNet. We kickstarted this in the DevNet Zone with a Design Thinking panel with user experience and design leaders from across Cisco: Edwin Zhang (DevNet), Hallgrim Sagen (Collaboration), David Sward (Security), Matt Cutler (Collaboration), Dale Heninger (Enterprise Networking), and Michael Kopscak (Enterprise Networking). We also had a Design Thinking pod to help developers learn the basics of design thinking and use it to think through and frame some of the problems they are solving.

Where Apps meet Society with Project Opportunity

Finally, now that DevNet has built our foundation, we think it’s time to give back. We kickstarted a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Commerce on using open data to solve important problems that can help society. Project Opportunity frames important problems around open data. The U.S. government opened over 200,000 data sets in the last few years. This includes census data and data on public transportation routes and homeless shelters. This data can be used to solve interesting problems for society. Also, the 2020 census is coming up and it turns out that nearly 10% of the country is not counted properly in the census, which means that this segment of the population is not represented or served by government initiatives. DevNet is sponsoring Opportunity Projects by forming teams to solve specific problems, including the hard-to-count problem. We can also form projects to help with homelessness, education, and veterans affairs. I would like invite all of our DevNet developers to join a DevNet Opportunity Project — together we will define and solve a project that can help society and change people’s lives.

Final comments

As the network becomes code, app developers gain a new platform to innovate, to transform workflows, to build applications, and drive business results.  Through APIs, programmable ASICs and software layers,  apps can talk to the network, allowing for improved performance, analytics, intelligence, tighter security, and quick provisioning of network resources.

I loved meeting all the developers and developers-to-be in the DevNet Zone. I am truly humbled and inspired by our DevNet developers, who are actively learning new skills and driving our industry forward. That’s why I love taking selfies with all of you- you inspire me!

To finish the “80 bucks” story, we decided that this was the most effective marketing we could buy, so we gave Chuck a DevNet $100 when he visited the DevNet Zone. And sure enough, he earned the last 20 by showing the DevNet $100 in his closing keynote and making everyone say “DevNet”… twice!

The DevNet Zone at Cisco Live 2017 may now be in the rear view mirror, but we know that your learning and growth are not slowing down.  So neither are we.  Check out the schedule of live DevNet Express events to see if there’s one that’s convenient for you.  And, check out all of our free online resources at developer.cisco.com. And, let us know how we can make DevNet more valuable to you.

Join the evolution!  Become a DevNet member and join the community of more than 450,000 developers and network programmers who are learning and growing together.

But first, talk to me! What were your highlights and most memorable moments of Cisco Live?

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8 Comments

  1. This is a great post Susie! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Susie, It truly was an exceptional CiscoLive! With the capabilities of our new intent-based networks and DevNet leading the way in teaching, inspiring and connected us as a global community of network innovators... The future is bright, exciting and full of creative opportunities! Thank you to you and the entire DevNet team! This movement and industry transformation are incredible, and it is so wonderful to be on this journey together!!

      Thank you for joining us at DevNet and for sharing our excitement about the programmability of the "new network"!

  3. Amazing! Many congrats.

  4. Great post Susie! How come video is not mentioned anywhere in your article?

      Alejandro- Let's work together to bring on the best video platforms for our developers!

    DevNet Zone was awesome this year! I came away from the training ready to build my own bots for Spark, and excited to test out the Sandboxes. Great job!

      Glad you enjoyed the DevNet Zone, Adam! Hope you're still coding- let me know what new things you are building!

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