There is greenfield innovation. And then there is innovation that shakes you out of your own comfort zone. Without comparing the two, our story is steeped in the second. There was an era when Cisco’s enterprise products not only looked very different from each other but also operated on completely different operating systems. These products were generally built in parallel, from the ground up, and were often tailor-made for specific segments. What this meant was that although the products worked effectively, they weren’t standardized. The lack of standardization was especially apparent when one examined the numerous different operating systems that existed. Innovation is about finding new ways to deal with pain points, and we decided it was time to fix this particular one.

We wanted all our enterprise hardware platforms to run on a unified software stack. Which is why we created a modernized IOS XE software stack for all of our enterprise routing, switching and wireless products, internally code named Polaris. This groundbreaking common software stack allows us to offer a completely consistent user experience across our entire portfolio while at the same time using a common platform to continue our industry-leading innovation. Releasing features has become vastly more efficient as they can be developed in a single release train across all enterprise platforms. And, as we continue to build next-generations platforms and capabilities we can do so with hitherto unmatched engineering efficiency.

Single Pane of Glass

So what does this mean for the future?  We are on a path to making enterprise-grade software as intuitive and adaptive as consumer technology. For the first time in the history of Cisco, we have a single software stack across the enterprise routing and switching product lines. Polaris not only brings together a single software stack across enterprise, it also lays a modern infrastructure foundation. A foundation that will help define enterprise networks of the future by enabling automation and programmability for network management and a slew of advanced functionalities like serviceability, device and network analytics, smart licensing, and more. For instance, streaming telemetry, built natively and deep into the software stack, will allow network data from the devices to be consumed and processed by controller layers to create information and actionable insights for new forms of innovation in network monitoring and control. We will also bring together wired and wireless functionality together for seamless operation and consistent policies across wired and mobile devices. Just as for smartphones and other consumer devices, we can make available an app store-like experience for enterprise third party apps to run on the network devices for fog computing.

A common software stack for the enterprise is the way of the future. It allows for increased efficiency, ease-of-use, consistency in operation as well as new innovation and much more.  At the end of the day, however, delivering the best possible product and experience to our customers is what drove this re-invention of enterprise networking.  Onward and forward!

Look forward to continuing the discussion @aoswal1234.



Anand Oswal

No Longer with Cisco