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Cisco's sour notes on SDN


By Newsha Sharifzadeh, Global Product Marketing Manager, HP Networking


Newsha Sharifzadeh.pngIt’s hard to deny that Cisco has been acting pretty high-handed in the Software-defined Networking space. Nobody who’s been following the SDN discussion can have missed Cisco’s constant sour notes, insisting that hardware still has to play into this. (And by the way if you want more of that conversation follow us on Twitter: #SwitchtoHP)


Cisco is intent on setting its own hardware/lock-in path while pretty much the whole SDN ecosystem is moving in the opposite direction. A reminder – the S in SDN is Software. Is anybody apart from Cisco really talking about Software-Plus-Proprietary-Hardware-defined Networking? I doubt it. Because that would be SPPHDN, and I just can’t see that catching on as an acronym.


At the same time, Cisco doesn’t really have a consistent vision. It changes on a fairly regular basis, as Gartner’s Mark Fabbi pointed out last week. “They have overlapping and conflicting sets of solutions," said Fabbi, vice president and lead author of Gartner's data center networking Magic Quadrant (quoted in this SearchNetworking article). "When you look at Cisco's portfolio, you really have to determine what problem you are solving, and that determines what hardware architecture you buy. And it's difficult to migrate between those architectures, as opposed to most of the other vendors on the market where you can start with a hardware approach, and if your architectural requirements change, it's a software load to move from one solution to another."


Hardware is important and that’s why you need to create a resilient fabric, but it has to be based on open standards and interoperability.


Not that all software approaches are created equal, of course. As was noted in a recent blog from Interop, there’s a ton of software-based products out there that in some way control part of a network, but don’t give you a comprehensive solution to control its full breadth, or solve the real problem that SDN addresses – a slow-to-adapt network infrastructure.


HP provides an end-to-end solution to automate the network from data center to campus and branch. HP’s open SDN ecosystem, including the Virtual Application Network (VAN) SDN controller, delivers resources to develop and create a marketplace for SDN applications. You can make the full move to SDN when you’re ready, with our 50 OpenFlow-enabled devices. We are focused on delivering greater network visibility and reduced complexity through a hybrid SDN approach that allows customers to migrate gradually to SDN, without requiring a rip-and-replace of the network.


Learn more about HP Software-defined Networking and how it brings automation and simplicity to your network. And if you want to try out our Virtual Application Networks SDN Controller, you can download a free 60-day trial here.


Important Update 8.27.14: If you’re considering a move to SDN for your organization, you won’t want to miss the news out of VMworld this week about the HP-VMware Networking Solution, now available as a standalone solution or as part of HP Converged Systems. Check out John Gray’s blog about the announcement here. It’s interesting that what I’ve called Cisco’s “sour notes” in SDN – especially the insistence on a proprietary, hardware-focused approach – are starting to bother some of Cisco’s own customers, according to this Bloomberg Businessweek article: Cisco CEO Pressured by Goldman Sachs to Embrace Software.


And don’t forget that Twitter hashtag: #SwitchtoHP


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About the Author


Editor and writer with 12+ years experience in the corporate software and technology sectors.

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