A lot of it relates to the Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI), Cisco’s policy-driven version of software-defined networking (SDN). But there’s also news related to network monitoring, WAN provisioning, and DevOps.
Here’s a rundown of the announcements we’ve encountered so far.
F5 and Citrix: Service Insertion in Cisco ACI
Cisco’s ACI includes what’s called a device package, a mechanism for an edge device to tell its capabilities to the APIC. The APIC then uses this knowledge to insert services into a flow; it’s a different spin on the idea of service chaining.
Citrix and F5 are both announcing they’ll work with Cisco’s ACI in this way, starting sometime this summer. It’s no surprise, considering Cisco has given up on the application delivery controller (ADC) market itself. Citrix is Cisco’s declared partner when it comes to ADCs, and they’ve already brought their products closer together — but naturally, F5 is on the hunt to gather up some of that business as well.
In F5’s case, ACI integration pertains to three functions available with F5’s BIG-IP devices: Layer 4-7 load balancing, SSL offload, and Sharepoint acceleration, with device packages to be made available as software downloads on F5’s web site.
The exact services aren’t as important as “showing the promise of how we can actually get that full slate of services into an SDN-like architecture,” says Lori MacVittie, F5 senior product manager.
Here’s how it works: A network admin would upload the device package to the APIC. The APIC would then know what that device can do and when it would be appropriate to call it up. Because ACI is a declarative framework, the APIC doesn’t have to know how the device gets the work done; rather, the APIC would tell it what the end result should be and let the device run its task by whatever means available.
“It doesn’t force someone like us or anybody else in the industry to conform to some view of: ‘Here’s what Layer 4-7 load balancing can do, and here’s the algorithms available,'” MacVittie says.
“The concept is something we’ve seen in the application development space before. I’m sure you’ve heard the term SOA [service-oriented architecture],” she adds. “It died, but not because the concepts were bad.”
VSS and Napatech: Network Monitoring at 100G
VSS Monitoring announced two new vBroker products for network monitoring. The VB6000 targets density; it can hold 10 blades with a claimed 600 Gb/s of throughput per blade. It also supports port speeds up to 100 Gb/s.
The VB520 specifically targets 100-Gb/s appliance, with a total of 400 Gb/s of line-rate throughput in a 2U appliance. (That’s two 100-Gb/s, two 40-Gb/s, and twelve 10-Gb/s ports.)
Napatech will also be showing off its new 100-Gb/s gear at Cisco Live, but with a bit difference: The company makes adapter cards rather than full appliances. Napatech actually made its announcement — the NT10E3-1-PTP card —last week, beating the rush. Among the company’s 100-Gb/s obsessions is time synchronization, based on the IEEE 1588-2008 Precision Time Protocol (PTP). It’s useful in keeping packets in the proper sequence, for applications such as video.
Glue Networks and Packet Design: Piecing Things Together
Packet Design will show off integration of its Route Explorer with the OpenDaylight controller. The demo will show the use of Route Explorer to plan an RSVP-TE tunnel, which would then be provisioned automatically by OpenDaylight.
Glue Networks will be showing its WAN orchestration for the enterprise, which is officially part of Cisco’s product list. While Glue’s orchestration could theoretically work with any vendor’s gear, the startup has chosen to hitch up to Cisco specifically.
Yes, Cisco announced orchestration yesterday in the form of the WAN Application Engine (WAE), but that’s for the service-provider network; Glue targets the enterprise WAN.
It’s worth noting that startups CloudGenix and vIPtela both recently announced their plans for SDN in the WAN as well. SDN is barely getting installed in the data center, and the WAN is suddenly becoming a hot topic.
QualiSystems: A Dose of DevOps
QualiSystems will show off orchestration and workflow automation with its CloudShell platform. The general idea is that IT configuration processes are represented as visual objects within CloudShell, supposedly making it easy to build and maintain automated processes. CloudShell was announced last fall and is shipping.