Roundup: Cisco’s Approach to SDN

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Yesterday Cisco unveiled the Open Network Environment (ONE), Cisco’s approach to network programmability. The announcement of Cisco’s strategic response to the emergence of software defined networking (SDN) prompted reactions from analysts and tech watchers around the web. Here’s a roundup of notable analysis and commentary:

Cisco enters enemy camp with software-defined networking – From Network World: “The ambitious Cisco Open Network Environment package, introduced at Cisco Live in San Diego, aims to give cloud providers, service providers and academics comprehensive support for software-based and software-defined networking based on Cisco products.”With this announcement, we intend to put to rest all speculations and rumours on Cisco’s strategy for network programmability (including SDN) and put the focus back where it belongs — on our customers,” Shashi Kiran, a director of market management at the company, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “It will be interesting to see this transition play itself out.”

Cisco Describes SDN Strategy, Sets Industry Back 10 Years – From InformationWeek: “Cisco’s message was crafted to detail a highly useful direction for the Cisco faithful, and at the same time shows the company taking a deeply defensive position against the possibility that the technology could disrupt the networking leader’s number one position in switching and routing. Cisco’s core proposition is that while the industry is abuzz with OpenFlow and SDN, what customers really want is programmability of the network. So, while OpenFlow and SDN are important developments, the real thing that will get customers excited, according to Cisco, is exposing all that intelligence that’s already in the network and letting users program it.”

Cisco + OpenFlow + OpenStack = ONE software-defined network - From The Register: “It was David Ward, dressed in jeans and not wearing any shoes, who stole the show when he explained, at length and rather eloquently, why Cisco has been so quiet about how it was going to make networks externally programmable and why it has taken so long to come up with its Open Network Environment, or ONE for short. During a Q&A session following the press conference, Ward explained that software-defined networks violate the very tenets of routing and switching, where they state of the network is stored in a config file inside of the gear and also, equally importantly, provides a centralized view of the network topology surrounding any piece of gear. By definition, any SDN approach means making all of this malleable, changing topologies on the fly and having networks react to applications instead of the other way around, when networks simply and silently don’t give applications the resources they need if they don’t have them allocated.”

Cisco’s Answer to SDN: Open Network Environment – From Network Computing: “Rather than sticking with the definition of SDN that focuses on the separation of the control plane and the data plane, however, Cisco wants to keep the networking processes that work today and offer deeper integration with third-party software. It’s answer: Open Network Environment. The interesting aspect of SDN is that the network responds to not only application demands, but also to changes in network behaviors. Cisco’s view of SDN has a control mechanism, but more importantly it includes a feedback mechanism so the network paths can be recomputed on the fly, avoiding congestion because of impending oversubscription.”

For Cisco’s SDN strategy look North – From GigaOm: “Instead of letting the service providers, especially those who are running giant webscale networks in data centers, dictate the conversation around OpenFlow and software defined networks, Cisco is adapting the concepts to its own world of enterprise buyers and service providers. Much like Juniper, it recognizes the threat to its core business, but its strategy is less about interoperating and more about making sure it can cram as much software value into its hardware and then let developers build network applications on top. So while the webscale and Open Networking Foundation view of software defined networks centers on the decoupling of the switches and the intelligence required to move packets around the network, Cisco’s vision says as long as customers can access and program that intelligence on the switch why do they need that decoupling?”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.