Evolving our Software Stack – The Inside Story
Suresh leads the effort to reinvent the software stack that powers Cisco’s enterprise network portfolio. He spends his (long) days pushing the envelope on the infrastructure and networking technology needed to influence and lead the transformation of enterprises of the future.
Customers worldwide have been using Cisco’s Enterprise Networking portfolio of routers, switches, access points and management systems to solve their networking needs for over three decades. And for the most part this has been an excellent win-win partnership that has proven the test of time.
As a member one of the engineering groups that develop these products I am proud that we have consistently led the networking industry by delivering breakthrough products and technologies that combine innovation with a healthy dose of reliability. We have been able to stay ahead by embracing the mantra that the only constant in this ever-accelerating technology landscape is change.
And so, now, we march towards the next big change in networking – a software-driven network. Perhaps, the biggest change in a decade. And part of this change includes an evolution of the Cisco IOS.
The software for the Enterprise Networking portfolio has its roots in Cisco’s IOS software stack, which was modernized in 2008 with IOS XE that first shipped on the ASR1000 series of routers. Our enterprise networking engineering team has now been working for over two years to lead the charge in evolving IOS XE to the next level to meet the needs of today’s enterprise networks encompassing routing, switching, wireless and also IoT. This evolved IOS XE will accelerate IT’s ability to embrace the Cisco Digital Network Architecture and prepare the network for the agility, simplicity and security demanded by the new digital era. It will make the enterprise network ready for a controller-driven, open and extensible future that will ease and simplify network operations by allowing programmability and automation. This is achieved in the evolved IOS XE with a technology leap in the software stack while building on the excellent foundational capabilities already present in IOS and IOS XE.
There are three main benefits that these IOS XE enhancements offer:
- Consistency: By delivering a common software base across the entire enterprise networking portfolio, customers can experience the benefits of consistency of capabilities, validations and operations network-wide. Evolved IOS XE delivers on that demand even as it enables significant new operational and serviceability capabilities to reduce the time to deploy while driving down the costs of running the network.
- Open and extensible. By offering open, north-bound interfaces at device and controller layers, IOS XE enhancements allow for easier and more sustainable programmability and automation. This allows much better and deeper integration with the Cisco APIC-EM controller, and development of better, more impactful controller-based applications.
- Resiliency, scale and performance. The high availability and resiliency capabilities across the entire portfolio will be advanced in a consistent manner along with improvements in scale and performance made possible by the technological evolution of the existing software for future needs.
In an upcoming series of blog posts, senior engineers working on the evolved IOS XE software stack will go under the hood on how Cisco is bringing enterprise networking into a new age and enabling the outcomes our customers are looking for with their mission-critical enterprise networks.
In the meantime you can learn more about evolved IOS XE here. I look forward to hearing what you think about these developments.