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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.

Greg has nearly 30 years of experience as an IT infrastructure engineer and has been focused on data networking for about 20, including 12 years as Cisco CCIE. He has worked in Asia and Europe as a network engineer and architect for a wide range of large and small firms in ... View Full Bio
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