Cisco Live 2017: Exploring Cloud, IoT, Automation, and More

Peter Welcher
Architect, Operations Technical Advisor

The big announcement at Cisco Live 2017 was, of course, the DNA offerings, featuring:

  • Intuitive, intent-based automation
  • Analytics and assurance
  • SDN using validated designs
  • Subscription service

I plan to comment further on this in a subsequent blog. There are pros and cons. Great vision; some real risks. The key components (APIC-EM, ISE, analytics) need to work in real customer networks, where things like DNS, reverse DNS, certificates, etc. may not be all done properly or consistently!

I always approach Cisco Live as a chance to go deeper on need-to-know topics, while exploring outside of my comfort zone. Historically, I’ve generally avoided unified communications — I know the flows and behaviors, and I won’t use anything deeper frequently enough to retain it. Lately, I’ve also avoided security (too many products, too little time, ditto retention). Generally, I want to be comfortable with features falling under route, switch, datacenter, WLAN.

However, I’ve been working to expand my Zone of Attention (to coin a name): to cloud, IoT, automation, application-centric tools.

My rationale:

  • Operations and troubleshooting (where I get all the hard ones) is already extending to cloud, IoT, automation processes. We all need to know what the tools are, what they do, and in particular how to identify traffic flows making up a given application.
  • My growing awareness that sites’ security, network, and operations teams may need to be more out in front of the above, i.e. dev awareness and support for operations/troubleshooting need to be baked in. “Trust the dev team (or app vendor best practices) to do the right thing” may well no longer apply. Are standard tools and architecture a good idea for supportability? AWS lock-in due to using capabilities like Lambda (“serverless”)?

What I think I’ve been seeing in the companies I’ve visited is either no obvious cloud/DevOps efforts, or what appear to be isolated efforts. The above aren’t on the radar yet. OK, you have to start somewhere. Who knows? Maybe I’m out in front on this. My PoV: Try to spot the landmines, and work checkpoints into project timelines, including some early ones for once real architecture and code are being generated.

I’ll probably end up ranting (er, blogging) at length on those at some point too.

So what talks did I attend, besides some of the keynotes?

  • TECCLD-1101 — Applications on vSphere, or AWS, or Anywhere Else (this is a paid TechTorial, so only paid attendees will be able to access the recording)
  • BRKDCN-2044 — Effective Evolution of the Data Center Virtual Network
  • BRKSPV-2201 — 5 Key Technology Transitions That You Need to be Making Now
  • BRKCRS-2810 — Cisco SD-Access – A Look Under the Hood
  • BRKCOC-2012 — Inside Cisco IT: A Day in the Life of a Network Engineer – Day 2 with ACI
  • BRKDCN-2050 — Automated Networks with Segment Routing in the Datacenter
  • BRKEWN-2010 — Design and Deployment of Enterprise WLANs
  • BRKACI-2300 — ACI for VMware Admins
  • BRKCOC-2021 — Inside Cisco IT: DNA and the Next Generation Network
  • DEVNET-1783 — Networking for Your Docker applications – from Dev/Test to Production
  • BRKCLD-1009 — Micro-Service Applications for Infrastructure People
  • BRKCLD-2215 — How to Be a Hybrid Cloud-Ready IT Department
  • BRKARC-2023 — Building Hybrid Clouds in Amazon Web Services with the CSR 1000v
  • BRKCOC-2014 — Inside Cisco IT: Increasing the Speed of Business Using AppDynamics

If you’re interested, you can find the above presentations on Cisco Live OnDemand (which the above links go to).

(If you’re puzzled by some of my choices, a lot of the top priority talks I wanted seemed to share a few time slot assignments, leaving the other time slots to be filled with lower priority topics.) Midweek at Cisco Live seems to be prime time!

Summary: A scosh of DevNet (start building up my tolerance level), plus some cloud, automation, AppDynamics. I already code (have done so in something like 20+ languages over time — remember Fortran, Ada, or Prolog and LISP?). I even wrote a large program complete with GUI in my spare time a while back. But I wanted to get a bit deeper with coding/DevOps tools. As Cisco suggests, we need to be able to speak the language (or troubleshoot the automation, perhaps). I personally think we need to be tuned into what it takes to make applications internet-ready and perform well in the clouds, much less advise on network automation. The former is key for business and has a big budget, the latter is a localized focus for the network/operations group, and may not have much or any budget. Look at the great talk BRKCLD-1009 listed above if you agree!

I’ve got more to say on several of these themes, but it will be best if I save details for upcoming single-topic blogs.


Comments are welcome, both in agreement or constructive disagreement about the above. I enjoy hearing from readers and carrying on deeper discussion via comments. Thanks in advance!

Disclosure Statement
Cisco Certified 20 Years

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