David Ward is Vice President, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Architect, Service Provider Division, at Cisco Systems and is part of the opening day panel discussion at the Broadband World Forum 2012. Ahead of the show we catch-up with him to speak about the challenges facing Cisco and how the company’s innovative technologies are helping its customers maximize the potential of the network.
What are the challenges facing Cisco’s SP customers?
The proliferation of connected devices, new video offerings and dramatic changes in traffic patterns are exhausting the capabilities of traditional approaches to service delivery. Profitability for service providers hinges on their ability to monetise new services and optimise the use of their infrastructure by increasing performance and reducing costs. Advanced application delivery will require infrastructure that can simplify and automate key operations and bring greater application awareness throughout the network enabling on-demand responses to application requests and increased service velocity.
How is Cisco addressing these challenges?
In order to help our customers maximize the true potential of the network and maximize profitability Cisco has developed a comprehensive and unified reference architecture that encompasses a range of solutions and new innovations. Cisco’s Next Generation Internet Architecture leverages the latest technology breakthroughs and a design approach that addresses many issues and trends happening in the communications and IT markets. These trends include consolidation, virtualisation, Cloud computing, unified management, and “Software Defined Networking.”
Software Defined Networking seems to be an important topic right now. How does fit into Cisco’s strategy?
Cisco’s approach has been to enable all our customers, whether they are Enterprises or Service Providers, to leverage the full power of the network so the organisation can reach its business goals. To simplify this journey, in June 2012 at CiscoLive, Cisco introduced Open Network Environment (ONE). Cisco ONE is a multi-layer programmable network environment that enables entirely new levels of fluidity and interoperability between the underlying layers of the network and it is a customisable framework that harnesses the entire value of the intelligent network by offering openness, programmability and abstraction across multiple layers in an evolutionary manner.
To what extent will SDN commoditise network equipment? Are you concerned about that?
SDN is a trend we’ve been seeing for years and has many different components that impact different areas of the network and computing infrastructure. The key thing that reduces cost of equipment is significant volumes of shipments based on standardised technologies. By itself, SDN is not sufficient to achieve the diverse market requirements of our customers to build more agile networks and services. The goal of our customers is to reduce the total cost of ownership from networking and data center equipment, along with consistent, automated operations, service assurance, that can enable the acceleration of service creation. This evolution of the service providers’ operational environment will not necessarily result in the commoditisation of equipment or services.
In June, Cisco announced the Open Network Environment (ONE). Can you summarise the key components?
The Cisco ONE is a comprehensive framework is comprised of three key technology components
1. Programmable Interfaces
2. Agents and Controllers
3. Virtual Overlays
The framework uses a multi-pronged approach that harvests network intelligence through a programmatic bi-directional feedback loop and leverages a rich-set of multi-layer APIs and development kits. A key foundation of this framework is the OnePK API development kit that enables programmatic access to a comprehensive suite of functional attributes of Cisco’s portfolio of network and computing elements. Cisco ONE also provides linkages to analytics, policy engines, with subscriber and service orchestration capabilities across multiple network and computing domains. These integrated capabilities allow service providers to create scalable multi-tenant cloud, elastic service and application delivery infrastructures with consistent operational experience between physical and virtual elements to enable agile business models.
Is Cisco building new platforms or adding new products to the portfolio to support this vision?
We are constantly innovating here at Cisco to deliver on our vision to help our customers build the Next Generation Internet. However, we do not need to build ‘net new’ platforms to support our Open Network Environment (ONE). We have been and are enabling our entire network and data center portfolios to support deep multi-layer programmability as well as consistent operational and database configuration models that enable our customers to accelerate and automate service delivery.
How are our customers planning to use the Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE)?
Our customers will use Cisco ONE’s suite of capabilities to optimise investments in network and data centre infrastructure while adding new technology capabilities, services, and monetisation opportunities. They will use Cisco ONE to simplify network operations and increase overall service velocity in ways that were previously unachievable. The Cisco ONE framework leapfrogs current notions of software-defined networks (SDNs) and infrastructure programmability in terms of scope and richness of control. Extending and building upon the capabilities of existing, proven validated infrastructure significantly reduces time to value while protecting infrastructure investments.
What is Cisco’s position on OpenFlow and OpenStack?
OpenFlow is a protocol related to the configuration of the packet forwarding behaviour on network elements and OpenStack defines a programmatic interface (API) at the resource orchestration layer associated with the provisioning and configuration of data centre computing infrastructure. Cisco is a member of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) consortium dedicated to the transformation of networking through the development and standardisation of an architecture called Software Defined Networking (SDN). Cisco is also an active member of the OpenStack Foundation and is working with both groups to define and expand the capabilities offered by these technologies to meet our customers’ business requirements.
Cisco has made significant moves into mobile networking as well as cloud. How does Cisco’s ONE strategy help deliver better experiences both for your customers and your customers’ customers?
Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE) is a programmable network environment that enables entirely new levels of fluidity and interoperability for service delivery. It has been crafted to enhance the overall experience for on-demand, real-time service applications found in an ever-increasing mobile cloud-based service delivery environment. Cisco ONE creates a continuous bi-directional feedback loop between applications and the underlying network. Customer and consumer applications can now interact with data derived from the network and work with policy and analytics engines to interact directly with the network, in real-time, to address application requests that enhance the overall customer experience.
What is Cisco looking forward to at Broadband World Forum this year?
Cisco is looking forward to the Broadband Cloud Summit that has been added to the Broadband World Forum and the discussions of innovative approaches to service management, service assurance, analytics, and elastic cloud networks. Cisco sees a huge opportunity for service providers to leverage this opportunity to bring the value of the network to applications, which can significantly change the way in which the world does business.
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