So, as the dust settles on Cisco Live 2014, here’s my thoughts on Cisco’s SDN stance as of today.

Cisco are undoubtedly “hanging their hat” on their Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). Instead of focusing on networking solutions, they’re focusing on Application challenges – rather than configuring the network device, APIC pushes policy to it. At the heart of this brave new world is their APIC Controller (Application Policy Infrastructure Controller).

Cisco Live US 2014

Having sat through a number of SDN-flavoured sessions, and by speaking to a number of Cisco representatives, I can report that the APIC controller is the answer to all your needs – regardless of what they are. The APIC controller will just “program” all your problems away. From datacentre network virtualisation, through WAN Path Computation, through NFV orchestration.

So, from not even mentioning the term “SDN” at all just a few months ago, ACI was at the heart of John Chamber’s Keynote this year. “Cisco will lead the industry in SDN” was the charge. Sounds great, let’s go…

There’s only one problem. It’s not actually here yet! I visited the myriad of Cisco stands at the “World of Solutions”, I explained the great features I’d heard about in my technical breakout sessions, only to hear “Oh no, that’s all roadmap…”. “Can I see a demo of your NFV orchestration?”. “Sorry no, but I can show you a video about it…?”

The other thing that I see largely differentiates Cisco from other vendors is that firmly sitting alongside their SDN story is the Nexus 9000 Series of switches. Many SDN solutions out there (Juniper Contrail, VMware NSX etc) rely on an “overlay” model, with inter-device traffic “tunnelled” via software on an x86 server. Cisco were actively slating the overlay model (singling out VMware’s NSX in particular), saying it simply didn’t scale. Nexus 9000 is the answer. Rip & replace, once again. Hardware Defined Networking anyone?The Official Chambers Shot

Cisco’s presentations were very slick. The software looks great. They’re saying all the right things. But, it isn’t here yet, and you’ll need to replace your datacentre network… again!

Watch this space and subscribe to this blog to keep updated.


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Opinions are from Alex Walker, photos are also owned by Alex Walker. 

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