Tag Archives: openflow

Managing the Network as a Fabric — About Time!

Earlier this September, I attended the Tech Field Day Networking Field Day 8 event. Over the course of three days, we saw presentations from many very interesting vendors including a mix of startups and established market leaders. One trend that really stuck out to me more this time around than at any previous NFD event was a nearly ubiquitous emphasis on data center network fabric management. In other words, truly managing an entire data center network (or at least a sub-block of it) as a single unit.

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Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure: Nexus 9000

On November 6, I was fortunate to attend the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure launch event in New York City as part of the Tech Field Day blogger delegation. This event was the much-anticipated unveiling (and acquisition announcement) of Insieme Networks, Cisco’s “SDN Spin-in” which maintained a pretty impressive amount of secrecy over its relatively short existence. The main keynote/announcement event consisted of a lot of flashy marketing videos and various tech executives praising each others’ companies. The tech press has been atwitter with coverage on Cisco’s ACI strategy and various components. I’m not going to try to recap the entire announcement, as others have done a much better job of that than I could, but I’m going to provide my take on each of what I considered to be four related, but somewhat distinct announcements that day. In this post, I cover the Nexus 9000 line of switches.
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Big Switch Networks and the (possible) Future of Networking Hardware

BSN-SDN-approach

Over the last couple of years, two major philosophies for SDN have evolved which I will call the overlay model, and the flow programmability model. Overlay networks are the notion of building multiple virtual networks in parallel on top of a physical network fabric, using some means of separating the virtual networks — typically an encapsulation method like VXLAN or NVGRE. Then we have the “flow programmability” model, based on the idea of programming SDN behaviors on a flow-by-flow basis into your existing (or new) physical and virtual network switches using a protocol like OpenFlow.

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