Reflections on Cisco Live

Cisco Live was held this week in Orlando Florida. It was a well-attended event with over 20,000 people in person and another 250,000 viewing over the web. Over the course of several days Cisco described its overall direction, announced a number of new products, and even provided a sneak peek at upcoming Insieme solutions.

John Chambers did a great job kicking off the event by talking about the transition that is occurring in IT and how this one is occurring at a much faster pace. He conveyed that one of the keys to Cisco’s success over the years has been its ability to recognize the major transitions and develop products and solutions to help customers take advantage of them. Sounding more like IBM than Cisco, he talked about the Internet of Everything and the potential it had to drive significant growth and efficiency, and not just in the network or at an enterprise level, but to have an impact at a country level. Perhaps not surprising given Cisco’s stated ambition to shift from being the number one network company to the number one IT company. To help make that transition it will focus on developing the appropriate architectures and platforms (enabled by ASICs, software, hardware, and services) that adapt to your environment. Cisco also announced that they have developed new certification programs to enable its customers to better handle the transition.

New products were in abundance this week, especially from the Enterprise Networking Group, with one senior Cisco exec quipping, “I think they announced one new product a minute.” It wasn’t quite that many, but there were a lot. Some of the new products included new Catalyst 6800 series switches, ISR 4451-AX for branch services, the ASR 1000-AX WAN aggregation services, the 4500E Supervisor Engine, the Dynamic Fabric Automation (DFA) software and the Nexus 7700. The 7700 received special attention as it represented a significant upgrade in performance and capabilities. Most notable was the 83 Tbps throughput, and for those of you keeping count of ports, this one has 768 of 10gbps or is capable of 384 40 Gbps ports and 192 100 Gbps ports. Which should enable most organizations to have plenty of room to grow and helps to protect the Cisco product line against competitive threats. To further differentiate its products, the company also highlighted that it would leverage the best of merchant and custom silicon to differentiate and cited several examples of custom silicon in the 3850, 4500, and Router line.

Cisco also took the wraps of its Insieme project this week, disclosing just enough to generate interest and create some buzz, but without disclosing all the details. The focus of the Insieme group as it was revealed to me this week was to look at the real problems plaguing the enterprise network environment – (ESG research has highlighted many of these, too many manual processes, too long to provision, change or configure network, etc.) and come up with a solution, but by starting with a clean slate. The sneak peek provided to us focused on Application Centric Infrastructure. This would essentially be the architecture and platform that would enable the virtual, physical and cloud environments to be highly automated and orchestrated leveraging common policies. It also not so delicately announced it would provide penalty free network virtualization. I expect will be hearing more about the solutions coming out of the Insieme group in the coming months and how they will integrate with the existing Cisco product line to enable this Application Centric Infrastructure. And while many are left looking for more details on the solutions, Cisco has at least opened the door for those discussions to take place and more importantly, has begun the process for all of its customers to begin thinking about and getting comfortable with the concept of an Application Centric Infrastructure.

Topics: IT Infrastructure Networking