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Posts Tagged ‘Cisco Live’

This week, Cisco Live! kicks off in San Francisco. Live! is Cisco’s annual global user conference and it’s the place to be for anyone who wants to learn more about Cisco, or just networking trends in general. Formerly known as Networkers, the show has steadily increased in size as Cisco has grown from a small network pure-play to a massive vendor that now deals in many adjacent markets, such as servers, collaboration, cloud, security and mobility.

Recently though, Cisco’s business model and CEO have come under attack as the threat of SDNs loom large on the horizon. It seems not a week goes by that I don’t hear the chatter of how SDNs will commoditize the traditional network since the perception is that the world is embracing pure software solutions on commodity infrastructure.

My opinion is that this fear is highly over-rated. In fact, the commoditization of the network is something that’s been rumored and discussed for the past 20 years, but it’s never happened. My thesis is that most of the struggles that Cisco has faced over the past few years have been more product transition and global macro-oriented than anything, and this past quarter seems to have supported that.

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Day 1 of Cisco Live was all about the branch and campus with the release of the Cisco ONE Enterprise Network Architecture, coupled with a bevy of new products, including a new branch router, aggregation services appliance, and access switches, including the Catalyst 6800 – a replacement for the long-lived Cat 6500. The 6800 replacement is significant as I’ve long felt that the 6500 is the “Joe Montana” of Ethernet switches. Montana won early in his career, in the middle, and, of course, went out on top as the greatest QB ever. However, all good things must come to an end and Montana gave way to Steve Young. Similarly, the 6500 is giving way to the Cat 6800, which should be around for well over a decade.

Day 2 of Cisco Live was kicked off by Rob Lloyd, and he moved away from the broader network and focused squarely on the data center. Since the audience is primarily a bunch of geeks, he unveiled the new Nexus 7700 before he covered the new architecture. The Nexus 7700 is a beast of a switch. If the Cat6800 is the Montana of switching, the Nexus 7700 is the Ray Lewis of switching, in that it’s one mean switch that takes no prisoners.

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All eyes are on Orlando, Florida, this week as Cisco Live gets underway. With all due respect to Interop, the show formerly known as Networkers has become the place to be if you want to learn what’s going on in networking, with over 20,000 in attendances this year. I don’t think anyone would deny the fact that virtualization has become a huge issue for not just server managers but also network managers. In fact, in last year’s ZK Research/Tech Target network purchase intention survey, we asked what technology product was consuming more time and resources compared to the year prior. Server virtualization was the No. 1 response, with over 31% of respondents showing just how big an impact virtualization is having with network managers.

Just a few short years ago, network managers couldn’t have cared less about server virtualization, as it was a technology that was used to improve the utilization of servers and had little impact on the network. Obviously, things have changed significantly over the past few years as the use of virtualization technology has expanded past consolidation.

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It’s late June and school is almost out. High school seniors are getting ready for college, younger kids are planning end-of-year parties, and families are getting ready to head to Disney and other fun spots. However, fun isn’t just limited to kids – network managers are getting ready for their own fun in Florida sun, as Cisco Live this year heads to the heart of Disney, Orlando, Florida.

So, what should we expect to hear about at Cisco Live? I believe at this year’s conference, network administrators will get a big dose of simplification and automation as Cisco strives to make it easier for customers to turn on intelligent networks services and improve performance on converged networks.

This theme was actually a big part of Cisco Live London, and were a couple of the core principals behind the release of Cisco’s 3850 Unified Access Switch. The coming together of wired and wireless technologies means that customers no longer have to deploy a wired network with a wireless overlay and manage network services in parallel.

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There was no hotter topic at Cisco Live 2012 than software defined networks (SDN). The industry has been talking about the concept of SDN for a couple of years now but customer interest in it seems to be at an all-time high. Many of the primary network vendors have outlined their SDN strategy and Cisco used its user event, Cisco Live, to outline its strategy.

At the conference the company announced Open Network Environment (ONE), its approach to network programmability. Cisco ONE is similar to other SDN announcements I’ve seen over the past several months but broader than most. The focus from most in the industry has been on the control plane and data plane. Cisco’s ONE solution is a combination of agents, APIs, controllers and overlay technologies to bring programmability to each layer of the network stack. Cisco ONE starts at the transport layer and extends through the management and orchestration layer. This approach allows Cisco to bring a high level of programmability to the network with or without OpenFlow, and with a high level of customization.

Cisco ONE includes a software developer kit, One Platform Kit (OnePK), which brings programmability across Cisco’s switch and routing operating systems, including IOS, IOS-XR and NX-OS.

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One of the more interesting parts of the annual Cisco Live event is the “World of Solutions” exhibit hall. This is where many of Cisco’s vendor partners exhibit their wares and try to sell their products to the massive Cisco install base. Although the Analyst Relations team at Cisco didn’t give me that much time to walk the show floor I did find time to see a few of the vendors, one of which stood out for its unique approach.

ISI Telemanagement Solutions had a booth at the show it shared with VOSS Solutions and demonstrated what they called a UC Business Analytics Solution (UC-BAS). For those who don’t know these two companies, ISI provides cost management software for voice, data, wireless and UC. VOSS is one of the UC “middleware” vendors that provides design, configuration and management solutions for UC solutions, including the red hot Cisco Hosted Collaboration Service (HCS).

The joint solution, UC-BAS, attempts to provide business analytics to try and measure the value of UC, which has historically been a difficult, if not impossible thing to measure. In fact, one of the analyst roundtables I attended was on the ROI of collaboration and the primary take away from that was that the ROI is unique to each company and measuring the value had to be done almost on a case-by-case basis. The UC-BAS solution attempts to measure this by understanding who uses what tools and how often. Companies can use this to determine how the UC applications should be rolled out to its user base.

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