OpenFlow part 2, Cisco’s response

 

organic growth by jurvetson

organic growth by jurvetson

Cisco’s CTO Padmasree Warrior, was interviewed today by NetworkWorld discussing their response to all the recent press on OpenFlow coming out of the Open Networking Summit (see my OpenFlow the next wave in networking post).  Apparently, Cisco is funding a new spin-in company to implement new networking technology congruent with Cisco’s current and future switches and routers.

Spin-in to the rescue

We have seen this act before, Andiamo was another Cisco spin-in company (brought back in ~2002), only this time focused on FC or SAN switching technology.  Andiamo was successful in that it created FC switch technology which allowed Cisco to go after the storage networking market and probably even helped them design and implement FCoE.

This time’s, a little different however. It’s in Cisco’s backyard, so to speak.  The new spin-in is called Insieme and will be focused on “OpenStack switch hardware and distributed data storage”.

Distributed data storage sounds a lot like cloud storage to me.  OpenStack seems to be an open source approach to define cloud computing systems. What all that has to do with software defined networking I am unable to understand.

Nonetheless, Cisco has invested $100M in the startup and have capped their acquisition cost at $750M if it succeeds.

But is it SDN?

Ms. Warrior does go on to discuss that software programmable switches will be integrated across Cisco’s product line sometime in the near future but says that OpenFlow and OpenStack are only two ways to do that. Other ways exist, such as adding  new features to NX-OS today or modifying their Nexus 1000v (software only, VMware based, virtual switch) they have been shipping since 2009.

As for OpenFlow commoditizing networking technology, Ms. Warrior doesn’t believe that any single technology is going to change the leadership in networking.  Programmability is certainly of interest to one segment of users with massive infrastructure but most data centers have no desire to program their own switches.  And in the end, networking success depends as much channels and goto market programs as it does on great technology.

Cisco’s CTO was reluctant to claim that Insieme was their response to SDN but it seems patently evident to the rest of us that it’s at least one of its objectives.  Something like this is a two edged sword, on the one hand it helps Cisco go after and help define the new technology on the other hand it legitimizes the current players.

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Nicira is probably rejoicing today what with all the news coming out of the Summit and the creation of Insieme.  Probably yet another reason not to label it SDN…

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