Tag Archives: cisco

Artificial Intelligence and Bots Can Drive Self Driving Networks

Self-driving cars are set to disrupt transportation as we know it, and the basis for that is Artificial Intelligence (AI). In the age of autonomous vehicles we will tell our car something like “let’s go pick up Jane” and the car will use AI to figure out that Jane is the young daughter who needs to be picked up from kindergarten which ends in 15 minutes time, and derive the destination and best route to get there safely and on time, including all real-time driving decisions to follow law and safety of passengers and surrounding (to get a taste of just how complex that is, check out Tesla’s autonomous driving experiments).

The same concept is now applied in networking to achieve self-driving networks. While traditionally configuring networks has been very complex, laborsome and detail-heavy, new concepts such as Software Defined Networking and Intent-Based Networking arise to enable self-driving networks. In such networks, the operator will only have to provide the “how” (the intent) and let AI figure out the “how”.

An example of this new trend is Juniper’s recent announcement of AI-backed Bot applications to automate network management tasks:

  • Contrail PeerBot automates the traditionally cumbersome process of network peering to simplify policy enforcement and on-demand scaling.
  • Contrail TestBot automates the continuous auditing of design, provisioning, and deployment changes in the network.
  • AppFormix HealthBot translates troubleshooting, maintenance, and real-time analytics into an intuitive user experience to give network operators actionable insights into the health of the overall network. This one is the result of Juniper’s 2016 acquisition of AppFormix.

Juniper is but the latest announcement on the quest to fulfill the Self Driving Network vision. June this year Cisco also announced intent-based networking solutions, which Cisco says is

… the culmination of Cisco’s vision to create an intuitive system that anticipates actions, stops security threats in their tracks, and continues to evolve and learn.

The quest for self driving networks will only accelerate, driven not only by the networking giants but also by startups such as Apstra, Forward Networks, Waltz and Veriflow. So get ready to take your hands off the wheel and let AI Bots drive for your network.

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Filed under Big Data, Real Time Analytics, SDN, Telecommunications

Cisco Is Shutting Down Its Public Cloud, Exploring Hybrid IT Strategy

Cisco just confirmed it’ll shut down its Intercloud by March 2017. Intercloud was supposed to be Cisco’s move in public cloud, addressing both businesses and service providers. But Cisco learned the painful lesson of the cloud, same lesson learned by HPE which shut down its Helion public cloud a year ago and Verizon which shut down its cloud earlier this year. On its statement, Cisco explained:

Cisco has evolved its cloud strategy from federating clouds to helping customers build and manage hybrid IT environments.

It appears Cisco realized that hybrid cloud may be its answer to Amazon, Microsoft and Google. It may have learned from Rackspace, which abandoned its cloud product and turned to partnering with Amazon, a strategy shift which paid off big time a few months ago. VMware is another datacenter giant that realized it’d better off partnering with Amazon for cloud services, and announced partnership a couple of months ago.

With open source taking over networking, Cisco foresees rough times also on traditional networking side. The big guys go as far as building their own datacenters from the ground up from simple hardware, skipping Cisco’s expansive purpose-built high-end boxes.

While many abandon their public cloud aspirations, it’s interesting to see that last month Oracle launched bare metal cloud services, which is in fact just the first step of its new cloud strategy announced back in September. Will it succeed where the others have failed?

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Filed under Cloud, OpenStack

Facebook Shares Open Networking Switch Design, Part of its Next Gen Networking

Facebook’s enormous scale comes with enormous technological challenges, which go beyond conventional available solutions. For example, Facebook decided to abandon Microsoft’s Bing search engine and instead develop its own revamped search capabilities. Another important area is Facebook’s massive networking needs, which called for a whole new paradigm, code named data center fabric.

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The next step in Facebook’s next-gen networking architecture is “6-pack” – a new open and modular switch announced just a few days ago. Interesting to note that Facebook chose to announce the new switch the same day Cisco reported its earnings. This is more than a hint at the Networking equipment giant, representing the “traditional networking”. As Facebook says in its announcement, it started the quest for next-gen networking due to

the limits of traditional networking technologies, which tend to be too closed, too monolithic, and too iterative for the scale at which we operate and the pace at which we move.

The new “6-pack” is a modular high volume switch built on merchant silicon based hardware. It enables you to build any size switch using a simple set of common building blocks. The design uses Software Defined Networking (SDN) hybrid approach: While classic SDN separates control plane from forwarding plane and centralizes control decisions, in Facebook’s hybrid architecture each switching element contains a full local control plane on a microserver that communicates with a centralized controller.

Facebook made the design of “6-pack” open as part of the Open Compute Project, together with all the other components of its data center fabric. This is certainly not good news for Cisco and the other vendors, but great news for the community. You can find the full technical design details in Facebook’s post.

Faceook is not the only one in the front line of scaling challenges. The open cloud community OpenStack, as well as the leading public cloud vendors Google and Amazon also shared networking strategies to meet the new challenges coming with the new workloads in modern cloud computing environment.

Cloud and Big Data innovations were born out of necessity in IT, driven by companies with the most challenging use cases and backed by open community. The same innovation is now happening with networking, paving the way to simpler, scalable, virtual and programmable networking based on merchant silicon.

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Filed under Cloud, IT, SDN