Cisco Live Milan is around the corner and I’m getting my session, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to onePK, ready for it’s European debut.  While it’s lovely to be in the CiscoLive Distinguished Speaker Hall of Fame, putting a good presentation together hasn’t gotten any easier.  The hard questions still need to be asked:  Do I have too many slides?  Have I crossed the line between technical and boring?  Will the demos work?  Will anyone laugh at my jokes?

And perhaps most importantly for this session: does anyone read Douglas Adams any more?

Here’s why.  I borrowed the title of Douglas Adam’s iconic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for good reason.  The original Hitchhiker’s Guide follows an ordinary guy, Arthur Dent, as he is unwillingly dragged into an intra-galactic adventure, with little more than the Guide, a pint of beer and a packet of peanuts to see him through.  Faced with the vast and confusing world of Software Defined Networking (SDN) and programmability, network engineers are in a position to know exactly how Arthur Dent felt.  New buzzwords, emerging standards, an abundance of marketing slides with vague but brightly colored blobs, and a lot of talk about programming languages can be disorienting to the best of us.

Enter the Hitchhiker’s Guide to onePK.

Notice that I did not call my session the Hitchhiker’s Guide to SDN.  SDN calls for more of an Encyclopedia Galactica than a Hitchhiker’s Guide, if you know what I mean.  Instead, my aim is to take a deep dive into one aspect of network programmability that network engineers can really relate to: onePK.

onePK (One Platform Kit) is a toolkit that enables Cisco routers and switches to talk to applications.  That may sound mysterious, but it really isn’t.  You enable onePK with CLI, you can monitor it with show commands and syslogs, and, best of all, you can repel any application from your router with a simple exec command.

Now I can’t talk about onePK without showing a few examples of code, but the only thing that surprises most people is that the basics are really not that hard to grasp.

Yes, networks in the future will be programmable, but that doesn’t mean we all have to become application developers tomorrow.  After all, you probably understand how SNMP works and how to provision and monitor it on a router…without knowing how to program an SNMP server application.

So given that network engineers are still coming to terms with what programmability means to them, a Hitchhiker’s Guide to onePK might just come in handy.  For me, understanding one concrete example has given me a good foundation for understanding the rest of the SDN universe.

There’s still time before the final revision is due, so if you have suggestions or requests, please let me know!

As for funny jokes… well, that remains to be seen.  I’m just not that funny.  However, if you come to my session, you really should try to laugh anyway.  It’s the right thing to do.  And if you really need a laugh, read Douglas Adams.

See you in Milan!