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OPEN: A Fundamental Part of the Network of the Future

- November 6, 2014 - 1 Comment

Over the past several years, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of two important trends in the networking industry – the evolution of open standards and open APIs, and the definition of policy as the key interface to the network.

Open is an extremely important word to the future of networking. The simple dictionary definition for open means not closed or locked, allowing access to inside, and freely accessible.

The ultimate networking environment will allow a user the freedom to connect anything together in the cloud and to an existing environment. In order for this vision to happen, companies must work together to create a common language.

OpenStack has garnered a lot of interest in the development community and among our customers.  We at Cisco have been actively helping to shape the discussion around policy.  Working collaboratively with our partners and competitors, we helped create Group-Based Policy (GBP), an intent-driven policy API for OpenStack.

The Group-Based Policy initiative represents a significant innovation in how users conceive, manage, deploy, and scale their applications in OpenStack clouds.  And its now available as a 100% open source solution available to any vendor.  When coupled with Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure, we are able to offer our customers a completely policy-driven network.

Simplification through group-based policy

Thank you, Dibakar Sen and David Deans, for your excellent comments from my earlier blog.  I’d like to expand on a discussion point that David brought up, focusing on the statement about a fundamental change of transforming IT to “intent” rather than process-driven, and how this relates to Group-Based Policy.

One of the primary goals of GBP is to separate application intent from the underlying network infrastructure.  By providing application-oriented APIs for application developers and deployers, the APIs allow the user to express intent, abstracting the application policy from the network specifics.

The ability to simplify the complexity of networking for application deployers is the ultimate goal of GBP. Simplicity comes through easier application-focused networking, improved automation, consistency, extensible policy model, and a user-defined policy.  Simply put by a recent TechTarget article, “GBP lets developers request network resources for specific applications without having to worry about underlying infrastructure details.”

In the past, Cisco has been cited as having a closed networking solution. But we have listened to our customers – you all want operational choice. You want simplicity of use. You want investment protection.

Cisco ACI has been built from the ground-up with an open approach. Our open NXOS allows you to make decisions in how you want to deploy to meet the needs of your company.

We provide open, programmable and RESTful APIs , providing you with the performance, scalability, simplicity, modifiability, visibility, portability and reliability you expect.

Embracing open standards and open source, we are active contributors to OpenStack, Open Daylight, and Open vSwitch and have contributed open protocols such as OpFlex and NSH to the IETF.  This allows application intent to be described via OpenStack, delivered via a central controller via Open Daylight and implemented on a platform of choice, such as OVS via the OpFlex protocol.

open source policy stack

Customers like Qatar University and QBranch – a leading supplier of Hybrid IT solutions based in Europe with global operations – chose ACI partly due to the open APIs, extensible solutions and ease of services integration.

ACI’s open APIs and our collaboration with ecosystem partners enable our customers to seamlessly integrate with existing infrastructure and migrate to ACI – all with the investment protection of being able to migrate without having to rip and replace current systems.

In David’s response, he pointed out that the potential for applications to tap into open APIs is a “powerful combination that every network engineer and architect should explore.”

We at Cisco want to enable Fast IT. What it takes months to do is now just weeks or even days. We are driving IT automation through an agile infrastructure.

Imagine the network of the past out of the way, allowing your business to focus on results: accelerating time to service.

Imagine creating a cloud environment that you can easily and quickly build, operate and scale.

How has your company embraced openness?

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1 Comments

  1. You said, "Thank you, Dibakar Sen and David Deans, for your excellent comments from my earlier blog." I want to thank you, Soni, for helping me to better understand and fully appreciate the meaning of the Fast IT model. I'm confident that Cisco's customers also welcome this valuable insight. Most multinational companies have significant investments in legacy infrastructure, and so I suspect that demand for professional services might increase as they move towards this model. Are there proven network coexistence strategies that might ease the transition? Do you have some thoughts or guidance for CIOs that will need to orchestrate a frictionless and progressive shift from their current environment to the one that you describe? How are the early adopters of ACI addressing this type of scenario?

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