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Cisco Insieme: It'll Do Stuff, But We Won't Tell You

A live Cisco Webcast about Insieme, a Cisco-backed venture, provided remarkably little detail about the startup or its forthcoming products.

Lots of people in the tech industry are curious about Insieme, a Cisco-backed venture about which few details are known, though many observers assume Insieme is doing something related to SDN. Today, Cisco failed to provide any significant new information during an Insieme Webcast at Cisco Live in Orlando.

Soni Jiandani, Senior VP of Insieme Networks, spoke in broad terms about the company and its forthcoming products: broad terms like “next generation” “paradigm shift” and “tight integration.” Also, silos. Insieme will make silos go away.

Insieme seems to also want to make VMware/Nicira go away, because Jiandani noted that network virtualization is a “first-generation” technology.

Basically, the presentation offered a vision in in which Insieme would do some stuff, and that stuff would be awesome, and would magically fix all the problems in your data center. With stuff like that, who needs actual information?

A couple of details did slip through. Insieme will offer both hardware and software, and the hardware will be ASIC-based, though the company aims to cover its bases by promising to support both merchant and custom silicon.

Jiandani also noted that at the end of the year, Insieme would deliver 40Gig optical transceivers that would let Cisco customers use their existing 10Gig cables.

All in all, however, it was frustratingly information-free, especially compared to the follow-on presentation about Cisco’s new Dynamic Fabric Automation and Nexus 7700 switch, which was chock-full of details.

Jiandani promised that more information on Insieme and its products would come at the end of the year. I think both Cisco and Insieme missed an opportunity to get people excited about what’s coming. Instead, they offered up a marketing-drenched vision full of empty calories and generic promises.

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User Rank: Apprentice
7/7/2013 | 7:57:28 PM
re: Cisco Insieme: It'll Do Stuff, But We Won't Tell You
I judge it more likely that Cisco's bureaucracy attempted to change the "vision" to map to "corporate strategy" and caused problems. While the execs are Chambers chosen children and blessed with magic powers, the "system" can cause hiccups.

Of course, maybe the technology didn't work as planned. Or the market is ahead of itself. Until then, customers are well advised to keep their powder dry, stop spending with Cisco and wait to see what unfolds in the next year or so. That vision is supported by the "more of the same" Catalyst 6500 refresh.

Just you wait, it will great tomorrow when it's finished. In Cisco terms, this means nothing until H2 2014 (actually Q2 2015 in Cisco speak)
User Rank: Apprentice
6/26/2013 | 10:56:31 PM
re: Cisco Insieme: It'll Do Stuff, But We Won't Tell You
Totally agree. I suspect they carved out the slot and then backed away. There is nothing in this announcement that says "We planned this months ahead of time." It looks more like "We planned a slot. Oops, need to fill that slot. Let's talk vision to fill the void." The difference in elevation between this session and the ones surrounding it are kind of my barometers.

Of course, I have no idea what really happened, and it is easy for me to armchair-quarterback from the sidelines :)

But I agree that if I was in the press and there was a 5:30a PDT briefing and it was just vision, I might be disappointed. And tired.

Drew Conry-Murray
Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Strategist
6/26/2013 | 9:33:53 PM
re: Cisco Insieme: It'll Do Stuff, But We Won't Tell You
Hi Mike,

Thanks for the response. I realize that getting this kind of thing right is hard, because it's a complex problem with lots of moving parts. I'm not faulting Insieme for not having product ready. They should take the time to get it right. But if you don't actually have anything meaningful to say about what the product is going to do, don't say anything. I'd rather have silence than the banal marketing speak of a "vision statement."
User Rank: Apprentice
6/26/2013 | 8:01:41 PM
re: Cisco Insieme: It'll Do Stuff, But We Won't Tell You
I understand the frustration at the lack of detail, but I suspect that is tied more closely to product progress than lack of direction. Getting this stuff right is hard, and I think the move to a more application-centric model requires more than just the underlying bits to move traffic.

Once you put the application at the center, you have to decide how you will talk to the application. This will put the somewhat notorious northbound API discussion back in full view. What abstractions are the right ones?

Cisco seems a little bit split on this as they talk about deep programmatic APIs (ONE and onePK) alongside applications. These are different, and I suspect the one is not useful for the other. Applications don't need deep control so much as they need a language to express their requirements and communicate their intent.

But I do love the Cisco thesis that applications should be the focus. It validates our own strategies, and it does draw a line between those that think the network should live in isolation (VMW) and those who think intelligence is key.

I commented on this a bit today as well. For reference:

-Mike Bushong
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