Cisco Addresses What Some See as the SDN Threat

By Paula Bernier January 15, 2013

The software-defined network has received a lot of attention in recent months as several leading companies have snapped up SDN suppliers. These SDN reports often include mentions about how traditional equipment outfits, particularly Cisco Systems, could be adversely affected by the trend toward software-based networking.

However, Shashi Kiran, senior director of data center and cloud networking at Cisco, says that the concept of SDN is nothing new. And he adds that while there’s a lot of SDN hype, it could be beneficial to those that supply network infrastructure, including Cisco.

“SDN put spotlight on the strategic nature of networks all over again,” he says.

The network has become far more central to the IT infrastructure than perhaps at any time in the past, he says, and trends like SDN and open networking are just enforcing that fact. SDN also could help bridge the gap between the infrastructure and developer communities, he adds.

“We think there is a lot of hype around SDN today,” he says. “At the same time, there is a lot of hope as well.”

To address the requirements SDN aims to meet, Cisco is investing in ASICs and opening up its gear – from the smallest router to biggest products – via developer kits, he says. The company also is investing in its own controller, which supports OpenFlow, he says, adding that really is what the SDN model is about. Kiran also points to the Cisco Nexus 1000V, which he describes as an overlay solution that mostly works in cloud/virtualized environments, and uses OpenStack and RESTful open source technology. Cisco’s onePK is also part of the company’s Open Network Environment, which involves SDN.

Elements of SDN are things that Cisco has been doing for some time, Kiran adds. And while there is a perception that SDN will commoditize network equipment, Cisco actually believes the opposite it true. Despite the fact that Ethernet and IP technologies both allow for commoditization, Cisco has grown its market share, he says, adding the degree of integration Cisco brings to the market is difficult to match.

To learn more about SDN, join me at the Software Defined Networking pre-conference workshop on Tuesday, Jan. 29. The SDN event will be part of TMC's (News - Alert) ITEXPO Miami 2013 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

Executive Editor, TMC

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