Networking systems are going to need their developer teams as badly as enterprise applications and operations need DevOps, Cisco decided three-and-a-half years ago. Networks were moving toward a software-defined existence, and developers who wished to program on them were going to need to learn modern development's ropes. Its answer was a new developer unit, DevNet.
Named to head the unit was Susie Wee, now VP and CTO of DevNet Innovations at Cisco. DevNet, explained Wee, is where "Applications meet programmable infrastructure." Wee addressed the 3,000 attendees at the morning keynote session of Interop Thursday May 18 in Las Vegas.
"Four to five years ago, software-defined networking was OpenFlow. How many people remember that?" she asked the crowd. OpenFlow was a trend-setting SDN protocol but software-defined networking quickly expanded its horizons beyond the limits of OpenFlow to include many additional aspects of network engineers and management.
Today, applications need to be written for programmable networks to address automation of network operations, orchestration of new network segments and services, provisioning of services and monitoring and managing network characteristics. Today's network infrastructure reaches beyond the enterprise data center into the cloud. Accessing the many elements of the network means accessing its services through APIs, a key element of the programmable network.
Wee illustrated the point by asking attendee to take out their smart phones, access a Cisco API gateway and say hello in their native languages. Everything from "Hey, y'all" to "Hola" and "Bonjour" appeared on the screen.
Wee said software needs to be developed to "make the network a sensor (of malware) and an enforcer," applications that can tap into knowledge bases of malicious software and recognize its code pattern or behavioral pattern on the network.
Cisco detects and blocks 19.7 billion threats a day on the networks that its monitoring, a figure that dwarfs the number of searches that Google conducts each day – 3 billion. In the future, the programmable network infrastructure will have security built into it, along with other forms of intelligence.
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