Speaking Notes: The Data Center Network Evolution

I will be presenting at the Cisco Connect Canada tour in Edmonton and Calgary on November 3rd and 5th, respectively. My presentation is about that three letter acronym that everyone loves to hate: SDN :-)

I will talk about SDN in general terms and describe what it really means; what we're really doing in the network when we say that it's "software defined". No unicorns or fairy tales here, just engineering.

Next I'll talk about three areas where Cisco is introducing programmability into its data center solutions:

  • Application Centric Infrastructure
  • Virtual Topology System
  • Open NX-OS

Below are the notes I made for myself while researching these topics and preparing for the presentation. At the bottom of this post is a Q&A section with some frequently asked questions.

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BRKARC-3004 APIC-EM Controller Workflow and Use Cases

Presenter: Markus Harbek, CCIE, CCDE

Who knows what SDN stands for?

  • Still Don't kNow
  • Still Does Nothing
  • Schnitzel Dinner Night
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Cisco onePK Screencast

As a follow-on to my previous article on onePK β€” Cisco onePK: Now I Get It β€” I recorded a screencast in which I talk about what a onePK-enabled network is capable of. I also demonstrate two applications which make use of onePK to gather telemetry from the network and also program the network. MTU Checker - Verifies that when the MTU of an interface is changed on the CLI, that the adjoining interface MTU matches Routing For Dollars - Programs the forwarding table of the routers in the network based on the cost β€” in terms of dollars β€” of the various links in the network Disclaimer: The opinions and information expressed in this blog article are my own and not necessarily those of Cisco Systems.
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Cisco onePK: Now I Get It

I had an opportunity recently to sit in a Cisco onePK lab and it opened my eyes to exactly what Cisco is doing with onePK, why it's going to be so important as Software Defined Networking (SDN) continues to gain traction, and why onePK is different than what anyone else is doing in the industry.

onePK is a key element within Cisco's announced Open Network Environment SDN strategy. onePK is an easy-to-use toolkit for development, automation, rapid service creation and more. It enables you to access the valuable data inside your network via easy-to-use APIs.

Source: www.cisco.com/go/onepk

Since having my own eyes opened, I've been pondering how to explain my new found understanding in a way that others will grasp. In particular to business decision makers (BDMs) and technical decision makers (TDMs). I'm really, really, struggling to come up with a good analogy for BDMs. I'm still working on that one. Surprisingly, I'm also struggling to come up with a sound analogy that will work with the majority of TDMs that I know. Maybe I shouldn't be so surprised at that since all the TDMs I deal with are on the infrastructure side of things (networks, storage, compute, platform) and really don't deal with software. There's a gap there that I somehow need to bridge. I'm still pondering how to successfully do that.

However, there is a slice of the TDM population that I believe I can reach right now. These folks, like myself, have software and network experience. Maybe through open source projects, previous careers, or just mucking about with LAMP stacks in their own lab/home network, they understand programming semantics, APIs, and extending the functionality of third-party software.

I'm going to use a popular open source software package to draw some parallels with what Cisco onePK will soon allow organizations to do to their networks.

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