Cisco Live 2012 Musings

I’ll describe my random musings from the Cisco Live conference. I had a great experience and met a lot of interesting people.

Keynotes

  • LISP is likely an important technology, but it seemed as an odd demo for the Opening Keynote (John Chambers). It doesn’t seem to have the widespread appeal…and certainly not compared to the enormous amount of chatter/hype around SDN, OpenFlow, Cisco ONE, etc. LISP isn’t really even new…they’ve been doing Cisco Live presentations on it for several years now (and of course the IETF has been working on it for many years prior to that).
  • Overall, The Opening Keynote was a little underwhelming compared to the past. The slides were are bit complex  dull. Once again…this may be a bit attributed to the fact that LISP was the primary feature presentation.
  • Next Generation Enterprise WANs – This was discussed in the Padmasree Warrior Keynote as well as several breakout sessions. One thing that resonates with me is that branch internet connections are likely to proliferate (per the Borderless WAN concept) in order to improve performance and offload Internet traffic from the WAN. This will bring interesting challenges to Security teams who have likely been working on consolidating their internet connections over the past several years.
  • Cisco ONE / SDN / OpenFlow / OpenStack / OnePK – I won’t attempt to rehash the current discourse, but my current takeaways are the following:
    • SDN is still too broad off term to be useful. Networks have always been running on software. Cisco is preferring the term “network programmability” to represent the ability to program/automate networks.
    • All of Cisco’s recent announcements indicate a “wait and see” approach. I don’t blame Cisco for doing this – it makes sense – but it will likely take several years to make a real difference to most enterprise networks

Unified Communications / Collaboration

  • If you haven’t widely deployed Jabber already, it’s likely going to be wise to wait until Communications Manager 9.x to do so. One key reason is that All of the User-side configuration of Presence is moving to CM (certainly a welcome change). CM 9 will also greatly increase support for interoperability between different Video platforms.
  • Dial-via-Office is coming back to the Jabber clients by the end of the year (this once existed on the Mobile Communicator platform). This is certainly helpful for folks who want to use Jabber over secure connections outside the office, but don’t really want to rely on the Internet for the actual voice traffic (i.e. signaling only).
  • Cisco is about to release Unified SRST Manager 9.0 (FCS August 2012). This has the potential to make it much easier for customers to centrally manage their branch SRST and E-SRST configurations.  There is a lot of value in this. However, the first version will have a few drawbacks:
    • It will only support MGCP gateways at FCS. SIP / H.323 versions are supposedly in the works.
    • Though it will run as a virtual appliance, each instance will only support one CM Cluster. For enterprises or service providers that manage several clusters, this could be a drawback. I wouldn’t be surprised if this limitation is lifted in the future.

Other Rumors:

  • Cisco is working towards having an official IOS simulator / modeling tool. No real details beyond that, but certainly welcome to those of us who rely on network modeling to perform complex network migrations and develop POCs. It’s about time! Other competitors, including Juniper, have been doing this for quite a while.