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Cisco describes its SDN vision: A Q&A with Soni Jiandani

John Dix | July 24, 2014
Jiandani talks about her take on how SDN plays out

Soni Jiandani is one of Cisco's serial entrepreneurs, having been a key member of the teams that developed everything from the Nexus 5000 to Cisco's Unified Computing System (which in five years has leapt to the top of the x86 blade server market in North America, according to IDC). Today Jiandani is Senior Vice President of Cisco's Insieme business unit, the group pushing the company's Software Defined Networking vision. Network World Editor in Chief John Dix caught with Jiandani to get her take on how SDN plays out.

NW:    Why does the world need Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI)?

SJ:        What customers care about most are the apps that drive their businesses, and IT infrastructure today is doing a poor job of supporting those applications. With ACI we're meeting the needs of applications that require dynamic, agile, fast, secure, scalable, reliable infrastructure that can respond to automation.

NW:     Since you folks built the majority of networks out there, is it a failing on Cisco's part to need to head off in this new direction? Why do we need to overhaul all these networks?

SJ:        We don't view this as an overhauling. I think that's a perception the competition is driving. We have articulated crisply to customers, as recently as Cisco Live, that our strategy with ACI is to migrate them towards a more application-centric, policy-oriented environment that allows them not only to embrace the design principals and the benefits of SDN, but to go beyond that.

The evolution to the cloud, for example, is a natural part of our strategy. People see the cloud as a way to gain agility and flexibility. They don't want to worry about applications physically tethered to the infrastructure, to an IP network. They want abstraction and the ability to define a policy model, whether it is through the lens of the networking person in terms of subnets and VLANs and quality of service and security capabilities, through the lens of a cloud architect looking to deliver a service-oriented model to various organizations, or through the lens of an application team that wants to submit requirements to the underlying infrastructure. So the goal focuses on agility and flexibility without compromising security and reliability and openness. I think this is a natural progression our customers would expect from Cisco.

We are also taking an extremely proactive role in driving standardization and open source efforts through various contributions. For example the group policy model in OpenDaylight is going to offer the industry a new northbound API that is identical to our ACI policy model. A number of vendors, including Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Barracuda, Plexxi, Red Hat, are contributing to that effort. So we are extremely excited to see this develop into a broad multivendor ecosystem around our policy-driven approach.

 

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