Was Cisco Thinking about SDN and Orchestration Concepts Years Ago?

This little nugget comes from the Cisco Certification course ROUTE v1.0 which really has nothing to do with SDN, but this might get a little interesting. I must warn you now, this is not a post about certifications.

This is NOT a post about certifications!

Do any of you remember Cisco’s Service Oriented Architecture (SONA)? I had to teach it in my CCNP classes, after Cisco moved from the Architecture for Voice, Video, and Integrated Data (AVVID). Well the SONA framework shows how integrated systems can allow both for a dynamic, flexible architecture and provide for operational efficiency through standardization and virtualization. That actually sounds current right? Now here’s where things get interesting. I think that Cisco’s vision was kinda leading toward this SDN revolution we are seeing today. Here’s why.

The Intelligent Information Network (IIN), a path to SDN?

Part of the SONA discussion involves the Intelligent Information Network (IIN). What’s the IIN? Cisco says it’s the vision of more than basic connectivity provided by the network. The IIN offers end-to-end functionality and centralized, unified control. Below is a screen grab of one of the slides coverd in the ROUTE v1.0 course. Notice that the IIN involves three phases:

  1. Integrated transport
  2. Integrated Services
  3. Integrated applications

Cisco SONA and IIN: SDN Precursor?

Let’s talk about what each of these phases do according to Cisco.

Integrated transport

The integrated transport phase is where everything is consolidated onto an IP network. This means Voice, Video, Data. The whoe shabang! Guess what, We’re already done with this phase aren’t we? What doesn’t run on IP these days?

Integrated Services

What does the integrated services phase do? According to Cisco, once the network infrastructure has been converged (That last phase we talked about), IT resources can be pooled and shared or “virtualized” to flexibly address the changing needs of the organization. This would encompass server, storage, and network elements.

So how are we doing there? Well let’s see….a google search for server virtualization only returns 22,500,000 hits. But here are a few.

  • VMware
  • Microsoft
  • Citrix
  • Amazon…

I could keep going here you know.

What about Storage Virtualization? I think my friend Stephen Foskett would have a little to say about this topic, but.. yeah!

How about network virtualization? Heard of the Cisco Cloud Services Router 1000V Series or the newly announced VMware NSX? Yeah I think we are in that age now.

Now here’s the part that made me say “hmmm.”

makes me say hmmm.

Integrated Applications

Here’s what Cisco says about Integrated Applications.

With Cisco Application-Oriented Networking (AON) technology, Cisco has entered the third phase of building the IIN. This phase focuses on making the network “application-aware” so that it can optimize application performance and more efficiently deliver networked applications to users.

Ok. So to me, that sounds like what Plexxi can do with the DSE. By golly, I think that Cisco was WAAAAAAY ahead of their time with this concept and frankly, what did Cisco have when they wrote this? I mean they did say, “Cisco has entered the third phase of building the IIN.” How? They have been talking about this for years, but I don’t think they have ever accomplished this.

Now Here’s the Kicker

I personally feel like Cisco is late the the table on this one. The concept was there a long time ago but the execution has lacked. It’s like saying that we need to go deep for the endzone and score right now, but instead we decide to run the ball for three downs before we pass (Yes that’s a reference to the Pittsburgh Steelers offense who’s also lacking right now).

Wrap Up

I dont know what the future has in store for Cisco, but SONA is a thing of the past and the new hottness at Cisco is onePK. It’s probably a good idea to follow cisco and see where they end up, but don’t hesitate to pay attention to companies like Plexxi because some of these smaller companies have some really cool technology.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *