When I started working with Cisco technology it was 1999. Back then I didn’t have much exposure to it, and frankly I had no idea what was what. In fact, sitting at dinner tonight with Terry Slattery didn’t help matters much after hearing his experience contributing to the creation of the Cisco IOS CLI as we know it. But for as long as I remember, we have been told that IOS would come under one common train. For 17 years that’s been a big load of horse manure. After listening to Jagbir Kang, Product Manager for Enterprise Switching, I think this might actually happen.
Yeah Right. How?
Basically Cisco has been working for a while on Cisco IOS XE Denali 16.1.1. And under the new IOS XE 16.1.1, any feature on Catalyst with 3.7.2 gets feature parity with 16.1.1. Moreover, Cisco says that March will bring in ISR, 4K, ASR1K, CSR. Wow! Could this be what I’ve always hoped we would have? A single IOS release that spans multiple platforms, features limited where appropriate of course. So where DMVPN would only be appropriate on a Cisco Router, this feature would not be available on a Catalyst Switch, but the IOS version would be the same and the command syntax would be consistent between them. You would still have a different binary for each hardware architecture, but a lot of the confusion that customers have would be a thing of the past. Just think about it. Right now you have and ASR1k 3.7(16) with 15.3(2) but that Catalyst 3850 runs 3.7.3 with 15.2(3). How do I know that? Why are they different? I just bought them both!
The Issues Finally Identified
I honestly don’t know why it took so long to identify the issues with multiple IOS trains but it seems that Cisco has identified them. In the Network Field Day presention, Kang indicated that Cisco has identified the following problems:
- People are confusion about multiple release trains.
- Feature consistency makes absolutely no sense either. Features here are not available there. No clue why!
- Different engineering resources and different people worked on each train so configurations and show commands are not even consistent.
So with these issues identified it appears that Cisco has invested a considerable amount of effort into merging the base code.
What This Means For Us
For us this means that Cisco is finally getting proper guidance in terms of listening to what the customer asks and delivering it. I’m not saying that they haven’t listened to the customer up to this point, but let’s face it, some areas have been a bit more deaf than others. So if Cisco can pull this off they might have a great deal of customers who have since bailed on the notion of a unified code start to have faith again. There’s still a long road ahead, but maybe with the new guy at the helm, Chuck Robbins, different pain points will be addressed that have not been a priority in the past. We’re going to have to see how this plays out, but I have hope again. Watch the presentation and decide for yourself. Share you thoughts below. I’d love to have the conversation with you.
I attended Networking Field Day 11 and certain vendors, including Cisco, provided us with marketing material and access to live equipment, lab equipment, or the like. Food and meals were also provided by the sponsoring organizations. None of these things have swayed my thoughts on the individual presentations of any vendor at Network Field Day 11.