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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

NW:     I don't know what you classify as big, but I talked to an NSX customer recently, WestJet, that was impressed by the technology.

SJ:        Right. But for a product out there for seven years, I would expect more.

NW:     Speaking of timeframes, how do you expect customers to adopt this stuff? How does it ramp?

SJ:        We are already seeing a rapid adoption of the Nexus 9K and, with ACI products shipping at the end of this quarter, we have enabled both the standalone and ACI modes within the 9K. The underlying fabric and the hardware building blocks are identical. When you combine that with a growing ecosystem, it's going to make for a cohesive evolution for customers as they embrace it at their own pace.

So we are not going in and telling a customer, "By embracing the 9K you have ACI inserted into your data center." Quite the contrary. The 9K is enabling successful adoption of 10-Gig and 40-Gig in existing data centers. When customers are ready to adopt the ACI policy model on their investment they made with us five years ago, seven years ago, we will be able to push those policies out by merely upgrading their Nexus 9300 and deploying application-centric virtual switches in their hypervisor-centric environments.

NW:     A lot of the SDN discussion has been around data center networks, but we're starting to hear more about wide area software-defined networks. What is your impression about how that will evolve?

SJ:        I think that the next stop would be that, because customers expect this to be one network. The vision is to have a common application-centric policy model that delivers significant advantages across all parts of the network. After all, these policies are portable. You can ensure the same application behavior in any network can happen in a consistent manner by copying those application profiles. You can centrally manage these policies which eases auditing and compliance, so your compliance teams are coming to one place for auditing, to understand the state of the network. And you also make your IT resources more efficient when you achieve dynamic control driven by policies rather than hard-core reconfigurations.

NW:     Are there any potential stumbling points for adoption?

SJ:        It's all going to be in the execution. We have to keep an eye on the ball, stay close to customers and deliver kick-ass products for the wide market we serve. 

 

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