Ah, Cisco Live... that magical time of year when tens of thousands of like-minded techies gather in a city we'd not otherwise visit, to party in ways we'd otherwise never enjoy, and to hear a celebrity speaker whose name we've never before heard. We do all this while also learning the newest advances and roadmaps in technology.
And what a year for an update. If you haven't heard of Cisco's Intuitive Networks, be sure to read up on Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins' June 20 announcement here: https://blogs.cisco.com/news/the-need-for-more-intuitive-computing. This is an industry breakthrough that sets Cisco apart from the industry in a powerful, meaningful way. Still doubtful? What if I told you that the new Catalyst 9K switches can detect ransomware and other malware inside encrypted traffic with 99.9% accuracy? Still think that non-Cisco edge switch is worth a look? I didn't think so.
However, that was not my focus at Cisco Live this year. As the NSI Data Center team lead, I spent my time focused on advances in software, rather than hardware. Cisco has been heavily innovating in data center software, and now, more than ever, it's time to give this software a serious look. Here are some highlights from my trip so far:
If you're like me, you've heard the industry touting network programmability so much that I want to take a hammer to my Java guidebook (which is so thick that the hammer would be ineffective). However, programmability came to life for me in a meaningful way this year when I used a REST API to create a Spark room for my colleagues. I did it simply and easily using the Postman web app, and I may never look back. Being a CLI junky, I loved how REST delivered CLI-level configuration to a process that would otherwise be GUI-driven. Between Spark, APIC-EM, and DNA Center (to name just a few), RESTful programmability is going to be the new way of performing network configuration in the next few years, and I dare say it's time to get in or get out. I'll be getting in.
Automation, like Programmability, is often-misunderstood as a trend made for gigantic enterprises. However, nothing could be further from the truth - we can all benefit from leveraging automation in our day-to-day operations. Imagine leveraging a software package that front-ends vCenter with features such as user-based VM management, one-click datastore adds (including storage array and FC configuration), and even a repository for deleted VMs that allows us to realize "oops, I needed that" and quickly recover without restoring from last night's backup. These are real, tangible benefits for organizations of all sizes.
As our employers place greater emphasis on application resiliency and uptime, I find that finger-pointing is at an all-time high. NSI recently had two clients with major application performance issues that lasted for months. After many NSI engineers (including myself) invested dozens of hours into network, storage, and compute analysis, each issue ended up being with the application itself. Imagine how much time, effort, and money could have been saved with an analytics tool that accurately pinpoints the cause of the problem! There are packages available to troubleshoot issues and enable future planning, and oftentimes they pay for themselves by recovering lost productivity and downtime.
I'm limiting this post to three highlights, which is sad because I could come up with a dozen more. Security, self-service, NFVs, manageability, optimization, digitization... Cisco Live is certainly the place to go if you want exposure to the latest and greatest methodologies. If you weren't able to go this year, pencil it in for 2018 - and let NSI know if you need help with justification or affordability.
Can't wait to whiteboard this for you!
If you'd like to hear more, watch here as Network Solutions' President Bob Tadevich talks about this exciting development!
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