Cisco created the Cisco XNC Controller, in order to keep up with the changing software-defined networking (SDN) environments. Its support of OpenFlow, the most widely used SDN communications standard, helps it integrate into varied SDN deployments to enable organizations to better control and scale their networks. As of mid-2015, Cisco has retired the Cisco XNC Controller — see What the Cisco XNC Controller Tells Us About OpenDaylight to learn about XNC’s demise. Check out the Cisco channel on SDxCentral learn more about Cisco’s current SDN strategy. Read on for a history lesson about Cisco’s first SDN Controller.
As an SDN Controller, which is the “brains” of the network, Cisco XNC uses OpenFlow to communicate information “down” to the forwarding plane (switches and routers), with southbound APIs, and “up” to the applications and business logic, with northbound APIs. It enables organizations to deploy and even develop a variety of network services, using representational state transfer application program interfaces (REST APIs), as well as Java APIs.
The XNC is Cisco’s implementation of the OpenDaylight stack. Cisco is a contributor to the OpenDaylight initiative, which is focused on developing open standards for SDN that promote innovation and interoperability. Cisco XNC is designed to deliver the cutting edge OpenDaylight technologies as commercial, enterprise-ready solutions.
As a result, Cisco XNC provides functionality required for production environments, such as:
- Monitoring, topology-independent forwarding (TIF), high availability and network slicing applications
- Advanced troubleshooting and debugging capabilities
- Support for the Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE) Platform Kit (onePK), in addition to its OpenFlow support
For detailed SDN Controller Vendor and Open Source SDN Controller comparisons, checkout the 2017 Future of Network Virtualization and SDN Controllers Report also available as PDF Download
Cisco XNC can run on a virtual machine (VM) or on a bare-metal service, and can be used to manage any third-party switches, as long as they support OpenFlow. It uses the Open Services Gateway Initiative (OSGi) framework, which offers the modular and extensibility needs that business-critical application require.