While there are definitely many trends, many sessions, and many perspectives, I can only speak to what I am seeing. Here are three (of many) things that I’ve seen a good amount of focus on in the breakouts I’ve attended. I would also say all three are highly strategic for Cisco in the Data Center and Cloud markets.
UCSM is getting a lot of attention in sessions that I thought were going to be much more holistic around Data Center. Pay close attention to the XML APIs available on UCS Manager. Cisco PowerTools also really caught my attention. Would find it interesting and intriguing making changes to the network the same way PowerTools can for UCS.
I’d expect the UCSM APIs to play a major role in the future of Cisco’s DC/Cloud story. Would expect they will feed into the Fabric Controller or Controller of Controllers coming with Insieme. Haven’t been briefed on Insieme, so that’s pure speculation.
ASICS and APIs
There is a lot of attention on ASICs and APIs all around. We all know ASICs are not new to Cisco, but they are now ensuring users of their technology realize that ASICs make a difference. I have never seen a presenter, an executive nonetheless, carry around ASICs like Rob Lloyd did Wednesday to show them off and talk about the number of transistors one has. Do we care? That’s for a different day. The interesting part --- it seems Cisco may be increasing the amount of off the shelf silicon it is using. APIs, on the other hand, are new to the majority of Cisco’s target customer base and end users. Since CLIs are for humans and APIs are for machines, and since we are in the machine and automated world today, we should start to make sure we understand the pros/cons of different device APIs --- Read-only APIs, Write-only APIs, bi-directional APIs --- are the tools just doing SNMP polling and SSH/CLI to push configs. Do the APIs convey real- time state information on the current systems? Start thinking about automation on a daily basis even if you don’t have a large scale deployment. This will only help in preparing for what is coming in the future.
I sat in one session dedicated for OpenStack and another that I thought was about programmability, but OpenStack kind of took over. For what it’s worth, I heard very little about CIAC in these sessions. It sounds like the industry will be seeing official documentation (maybe a CVD or multiple CVDs) on how to properly install and use OpenStack using Cisco/VBlock/FlexPod architectures. They will be based on particular distributions of OpenStack (possibly Redhat or Canonical). There will be OpenStack plugins for UCS, Nexus, and other hardware from the converged infrastructure stack. If this ends up being a CVD, I would expect it to drive more adoption of OpenStack especially within existing Cisco customers.
A few other notes…Cisco will not have their own OpenStack distribution, but have certain modules required to fully take advantage of Cisco hardware. Cisco Advanced Services will be offering OpenStack deployment services. As a person who works for a VAR, that was interesting to see. If Cisco publishes CVDs and Cisco VARs start to offer the same services, that can really be the catalyst for Enterprise OpenStack traction.
Yes, Insieme and the new Dynamic Fabric Architecture (DFA) were also announced and big topics. I had a pretty good session on DFA and hope to get that out soon.