Cisco Data Center – Network Field Day 2


Our first presenters up on the block for day 1 of Network Field Day 2 were from the Cisco Data Center team. We arrived at Building Seven at the mothership and walked into the Cisco Cloud Innovation Center (CCIC). We were greeted by Omar Sultan and found our seats in the briefing center. Omar gave us a brief introduction, followed by Ron Fuller, Cisco’s TME for Nexus switching. In fact, he may have written a book about it.  Ron gave us an overview of the Nexus line, as well as some recent additions in the form of line cards and OS updates. His slides seemed somewhat familiar by now, but having Ron explain them was great for us as we could ask questions about reference designs and capabilities. There were even hints about things like PONG, a layer 2 traceroute across the fabric. I am very interested to hear a little more about this particular little enhancement.

Next up were representatives from two of Cisco’s recent acquisitions related to cloud-based services, Linesider and NewScale (Cisco Cloud Portal). They started out their presentations similarly, reminding us of “The Problem”:

The Probelm

The Problem - courtesy of Tony Bourke

You might want to bookmark this picture, I’m going to be referring to it a lot. The cloud guys were the first example of a familiar theme from day 1 – Defining the Problem. It seems that all cloud service providers feel the need to spend the beginning of the presentation telling us what’s wrong. As I tweeted the next day, I’m pretty sick of seeing that same old drawing over and over again. By now, I think we have managed to identify the problem down to the DNA level. There is very little we don’t know about the desire to automate provisioning of services in the cloud so customers in a multi-tenancy environment can seamlessly click their way into building application infrastructure. That being said, with the brain trust represented by the Network Field Day 2 delegates, it should be assumed that we already know the problem. What needs to happen is that the presenters need to show us how they plan to address it. In fact, over the course of Network Field Day, we found that the vendors have identified the problem to death, but their methods of approaching the solution are all quite different. I don’t mean to pick on Cisco here, but they were first up and did get “The Problem” ball rolling, so I wanted to set the stage for later discussion. Once we got to the Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services (CITEIS) demo, however, the ability to quickly create a backend application infrastructure was rather impressive. I’m sure for providers in a multitenancy environment that will be a huge help going forward to reduce the need to have staff sitting around just to spin up new resource pools. If this whole process can truly be automated as outlined by Cisco, the factor by which we can scale infrastructure will greatly increase.

After the cloud discussion, Cisco brought Prashant Ghandi from the Nexus 1000V virtual switching line to talk to us. Ivan Pepelnjak and Greg Ferro perked up and started asking some really good questions during the discussion of the capabilities of the 1000V and what kinds of things were going to be considered in the future. We ended up running a bit long on the presentation which set the whole day back a bit, but the ability to ask questions of key people involved in virtual switching infrastructure is a rare treat that shoud be taken advantage of whenever possible.

<<EDIT>>

Now with video goodness! Part 1: Nexus

Part 2: Cloud Orchestration and Automation

Part 3: Nexus 1000V


Tom’s Take

I must say that Cisco didn’t really bring us much more than what we’ve already seen. Maybe that’s a big credit to Cisco for putting so much information out there for everyone to digest when it comes to data center networking. Much like their presentation at Wireless Field Day, Cisco spends the beginning and end of the presentation reviewing things with us that we’re familiar with allowing for Q&A time with the key engineers. The middle is reserved for new technology discussion that may not be immediately relevant but represents product direction for what Cisco sees as important in the coming months. It’s a good formula, but when it comes to Tech Field Day, I would rather Cisco take a chance to let us poke around on new gear or let us ask the really good questions about what kind of things Cisco sees coming down the road.


Tech Field Day Disclaimer

Cisco was a sponsor of Network Field Day 2, as as such was responsible for paying a portion of my travel and lodging fees. At no time did Cisco ask for, nor where they promised any kind of consideration in the drafting of this review. The analysis and opinions herein are mine and mine alone.

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3 thoughts on “Cisco Data Center – Network Field Day 2

  1. Pingback: Networking Field Day 2: The Links

  2. Tom:

    It was great to be able to host the team and kick-off NFD2 — thanks for the write-up. I certainly agree with your last comment about Q&A–some of the “off-topic” discussions we had were very helpful (and entertaining). I have a couple of ideas around being able to do more of that–its on my to-do list to chat with Stephen and Greg about some options.

    Regards,

    Omar

  3. Thanks for posting this! Great questions and very informative. I am a huge reader of all of your blogs. I recently did something similar myself with Cisco, and two things that did not come up in the Nexus video about the F2 cards limitations were that it needs a dedicated VDC (no other card types in its VDC), and no netflow day 1. We were told that sampled netflow is on the road map though.

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