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Greg Ferro
Greg Ferro
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Cisco's ONE Controller Debuts; Targets SDN

Cisco's SDN architecture gets its keystone with the launch of the Cisco ONE Controller, a software package that supports OpenFlow and its own onePK APIs. Cisco also announced support for hybrid clouds with its Nexus 1000V product and the Nexus 6000, a new data center switch.

Cisco also made several other announcements today, including the Nexus 1000V InterCloud, which expands the Nexus 1000V virtual switch portfolio. InterCloud aims to make it easier for enterprises to connect a private cloud to a public cloud, for services such as cloud bursting that let an enterprise take advantage of extra capacity from a public cloud provider. Cisco says the 1000V InterCloud gives IT full visibility into virtual containers as they move from a private cloud to a public cloud. Cisco also says InterCloud will preserve a virtual machine's profile and security policy when it moves to the public cloud.

Cisco says it is targeting Amazon Web Services out of the gate, and will add other providers over time. InterCloud is expected to be available in the first half of 2013. Cisco did not release pricing details.

Cisco also announced that its Network Analysis Module (NAM) will be available on the Nexus 7000. The NAM provides a variety of services including performance analysis of voice and video traffic. As with Cisco's other announcements, NAM for the Nexus 7000 will be available in the first half of this year.

Finally, Cisco released the Nexus 6000, a new chassis-based Ethernet switch series. I covered that release in detail (and engaged in a bit of debate with Cisco representatives) in the post Cisco Nexus 6000: First Impressions.

Controller Commitment?

Although Cisco has announced its network controller, it seems there is limited buy-in from many business units within Cisco. It's not uncommon for Cisco's business units to have competing strategies, roadmaps and revenue streams. This can lead to the failure of "big picture" technologies unless Cisco executives mandate company-wide commitment.

It's been two years since controller-based networking arrived on the scene; the limited product support of the ONE Controller might be a marker that the mandate is missing. If so, Cisco's commitment to onePK and the controller may be limited to the Service Provider and Data Center business units. This is not what a customer or developer wants to hear.

The other elephant in this room is the highly public spinout of Insieme last year to develop new technology for the data center. Rumors continue to swirl about its purpose, but the strongest rumors suggest Insieme is building a controller. This further confounds Cisco's long-term strategy and undermines confidence.

The good news is that Cisco has been busy. Even though its controller is late to the market, it is on target. It also has market dominance on its side, and the company likely hopes this dominance will make the ONE Controller a focal point for application development for customers and ISVs. Now we have to see if customers and ISVs will play along.

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Etherealmind
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Etherealmind,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/14/2013 | 9:43:57 AM
re: Cisco's ONE Controller Debuts; Targets SDN
You failed to address "licensing insults".

Notwithstanding, it's becoming increasingly difficult to do business with Cisco. Products are overlapping, with confusing feature sets, inconsistent lines.

I understand quite well how Cisco thinks and believe in the short term it might make sense, but large conglomerates like Ford & General Motors failed, in large part, to having too many product lines. Cisco's hubris in believing they can be everything to everybody is a major problem.

I'm turning away from Cisco because of product complexity - licensing, features, SKU plethora are costing me enormous sums in research and lost productivity.

On automation/orchestration, I perceive (rightly or wrongly) that Cisco has about six separate product lines in production today. This has led to a lack of focus and lack of quality in ALL of these platforms.

I could go on & on but I weary.
David Klebanov
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David Klebanov,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/7/2013 | 1:39:40 AM
re: Cisco's ONE Controller Debuts; Targets SDN
Hi Greg,

I am still not quite sure why your original comment about undermined confidence came in the context of Insieme discussion...

#You said: "Cisco products don't arrive on time or as planned"

I would love to hear more details and maybe specific cases where Cisco failed to deliver on time or as planned. I will be transparent with you, since you asked for it :-), when developing new products and offerings, slippages are possible and Cisco is no exception. It takes time until internal initiatives are communicated publicly and there are slippages internally, BUT once public announcements come, Cisco stands firm behind the committed timeline. This is contrary to some other vendors who over promise and underdeliver (or never deliver). Sorry to have used this somewhat controversial slogan...

#You said: "Building an automation suite from Cisco products is a complex undertaking..."

Automation, in my experience, is many times a factor of APIs available on the equipment. I agree that originally, it probably wasn't Cisco's stronghold (not counting good old SNMP or Perl/Shell/TCL scripting), but we definitely see a change with support for XML/REST and most importantly Openflow and onePK, which gives you the ultimate toolkit.

#You said: "...confusing plethora of products (FOUR chassis switches)..."

You can't blame Cisco for listening to its customers. We indeed have several families of modular switches, but they exist for a reason. Some people say "why don't you kill Cat6500"? There has never been a switch in a history of data switching that have had more success and deployment than this platform, although Cat4500 is creeping up on it ;-) Both platforms have great value, will continue their evolution and keep servicing Cisco's customers. If you consider Nexus 7K and Nexus 6K as the other two modular platforms, I think we had mouthful about those in other discussions. As Omar had rightfully mentioned, eventually we are going to have three types of operating systems. IOS-XE for the borderless products portfolio (containerized IOS), NX-OS for Data Center products and IOS-XR for high end routing platforms.

#You said: "...stupid product videos on Cisco.com website..."

Some videos on cisco.com are marketing videos and should be treated as such. If you want more technical in-depth ones, you are probably better off searching on Youtube. I know, I at times do :-) BTW, have you ever seen any other vendor ever release so much technical information on their website? I know it's not videos, but it should still count for something...

Thanks for reading.
David
@DavidKlebanov
omarsultan
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omarsultan,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 8:48:41 PM
re: Cisco's ONE Controller Debuts; Targets SDN
Greg:

Just to clarify on the point of BU support, when we made the initial announcement for Cisco ONE, we talked about support for three OSes: NX-OS, IOS, and IOS-XR, which addresses the question of BU support--in fact, the way development is structured, BU buy-in is a non-issue. The question of specific platform support is not "if" but "when". The "when" is being driven by what customers are asking for and right now, they are primarily looking for entry-level platforms that they can get in their labs and play with, which is why we have prioritized platforms like the N3K, the ASR 1K and the ISR G2. At the same time, we announced PoC support for the N7K and forthcoming support for the N6K. We also added the PoC support for the Cat6500 and the new Cat3850 to join the existing Cat3K model. Finally, we added PoC support for the ASR9K. While we are not done yet, I think we have done a good job of laying out an approach and they delivering on it.

Regards,

Omar (@omarsultan)
Cisco

Etherealmind
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Etherealmind,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 7:22:29 PM
re: Cisco's ONE Controller Debuts; Targets SDN
I'm tired of strategies that lack openness & transparency. I can only discuss & plan what I seen & have heard.

Permit me to be cynical about Cisco futures since they history shows that they simply don't arrive on time or as planned....

I figure that Cisco has most of the automation pieces although there is a lot of moving pieces. Building an automation suite from Cisco products is a complex undertaking and the licensing is so complex that I quail in the face the challenge.

So between the product quality issues I'm experiencing, the licensing insults I get every day, and confusing plethora of products (FOUR chassis switches) and those stupid product videos on Cisco.com website, I'm expected to believe that Uncle John can always come up with yet another strategy that will solve my problems ?

Colour me cynical. :)

greg
David Klebanov
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David Klebanov,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 6:55:00 AM
re: Cisco's ONE Controller Debuts; Targets SDN
Hi Greg,

Disclaimer: I work for Cisco.

Thank you for a good and informative article. I wanted to comment on:
"Rumors continue to swirl about its purpose, but the strongest rumors suggest Insieme is building a controller. This further confounds Cisco's long term strategy and undermines confidence."

Do you assume that if Insieme was building another form of SDN controller, it would obsolete or collide with Cisco ONE controller that was just publicly lunched and thus your comment about undermined confidence?

As you can imagine, there is no way I can directly comment on what Insieme is doing. Cisco ONE controller is one of the three pillars of Cisco's SDN strategy, along with Overlays and onePK. It is a *huge* and *very* comprehensive initiative across all of our products. There is no reason for you or anyone else to have their confidence undermined by the flying rumors of what Insieme is or is not doing. Sorry, I cannot provide more details.

Thank you,
David
@DavidKlebanov
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