This blog provides a brief update on Cisco onePK. As part of Network Field Day 5 (#NFD5) the group of delegates spent all day yesterday at Cisco. Some of the time was spent talking about onePK and SDN, and the rest about borderless topics. I hope to blog further about both topics when time permits. We had some really good discussions. I cannot report that we achieved agreement or anything resembling convergence of opinion.
I will freely admit I’ve only been lightly tracking onePK. Mindset: “that’s for programmers.” So apologies to anyone who feels I’m repeating old news. The following goes to the point “I’m not a programmer, so why do I care about onePK?”
My short take on what I heard was that Cisco has made a major commitment to onePK. It will be in all their major products. This is not just the appearance of SDN (“SDN-washing?”). Cisco has realized that with a common API, they can implement new features in device-neutral format. They can manage the code separately from the IOS or IOS-XE, etc., images, and they don’t have to wait for each product manager to get around to inserting the code into their product code tree, integration coding, testing, etc. In other words, it allows them a much more modular way to deploy new features on top of basic core functionality coded to leverage the ASICs in each platform. (My words for it, not Cisco’s.)
This is seen as providing a mechanism for much more agile feature development within Cisco. I imagine the coding efficiencies and time to market effects could become a Big Deal. The discussion segued into each new app written using onePK will still need testing etc. on the various platforms, but the time to roll out the feature will still be far lower.
One of the other aspects of the discussion that caught my attention was the deep thinking Cisco has apparently put into the operational side of having onePK applications. Namely, security, digital signatures to prevent illicit app alteration, and the issue of how to support different versions of an application. (Hopefully avoiding problems. The one that comes to mind is the Java version quagmire on the Mac platform, where for security Apple is attempting to enforce policy of only the latest Java code / fixes, which is fairly desirable, yet some applications require specific dis-allowed Java versions.) My other reaction to this was that is all sounded rather complicated, but then again, getting those other aspects right and sustainable does require thought to make it work reasonably well.
The other tidbit was that Cisco is planning a Java based SDN controller that uses onePK. Java for portability. The perspective is that one might not run just one controller, but different ones for different purposes and in different devices, possibly in the routers and switches in some cases, and possibly centralized.
That’s all for now — we’re about to start a hectic Thursday of presentations!
The vendors for NFD 5 are paying my travel expenses and providing small gift items (T-shirts, etc.), so I wish to disclose that in my blogs now. The vendors in question are: Cisco, Brocade, Juniper, Plexxi, Ruckus, and SolarWinds. I’d like to think that my blogs aren’t influenced by that. Yes, the time spent in presentations and discussion gets me and the other attendees looking at and thinking about the various vendors’ products, marketing spin, and their points of view. I intend to try to remain as objective as possible in my blogs. I’ll concede that cool technology gets my attention! Stay tuned!