Light Reading

Controller Freak

Dan O'Shea

When Cisco Systems President Rob Lloyd talked with the media this week about changes in Cisco's enterprise strategy, one of the things he mentioned was that enterprise customers had told Cisco that the vendor has too many controllers, making it too confusing to know which controller they need, and which controller controls what. (See Cisco Tweaks Enterprise Marketing Model.)

That sounds like a great argument for Cisco to adopt the OpenDaylight Project's Hydrogen open source controller, but Lloyd didn't give reporters much time to think about that shocking prospect before adding that Cisco would de-emphasize a plethora of its infrastructure controllers in favor of a single controller -- its Application Policy Infrastructure Controller. This is no real surprise, since Cisco has suggested that consolidation since the day it announced its Application Centric Infrastructure. (See Cisco's ACI Gets Physical With SDN and OpenDaylight Unveils Open-Source SDN Controller.)

Cisco now supports only one controller? Not exactly. Lloyd said Cisco still plans to support OpenDaylight's controller in a multi-vendor setting if people ask for it, which they probably won't unless they somehow wade through the Cisco APIC sales pitch designed to obfuscate the idea that it actually does support an open source controller. It sounds to me like ODL (as some SDNsters call OpenDaylight) is still SOL with Cisco.

Let's face it: If you are really intent on having a multi-vendor network, you have probably already decided against Cisco, or wouldn’t consider Cisco to begin with, or are struggling to wrestle free from your current reliance on Cisco. For those not so intent, the APIC is still on track to become available next quarter.

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/10/2014 | 8:48:37 PM
Re: Not really simplifying
Cisco might be justified resisting OpenDaylight if OpenDaylight isn't fit for purpose. Do we know that it is? Has it been battle-tested?
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/10/2014 | 8:47:20 PM
Re: Not really simplifying
It makes sense for Cisco to be reluctant to help move people away from all-Cisco networks. It also makes sense for carriers to resist Cisco's resistance.
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/10/2014 | 11:04:12 AM
Re: Not really simplifying
@DOShea -- Sounds to me like Cisco isn't thinking very long term.  The more difficult they make it to leave also makes it more difficult to come back due to the lack of flexibility.  

"If you are really intent on having a multi-vendor network, you have probably already decided against Cisco, or wouldn't consider Cisco to begin with".

That means if OpenDaylight becomes more dominant down the road, Cisco's going to have to back-peddal and it's going to be harder to get people who've already invested in non-Cisco solutions by that point.  In comparison, if they embrace OpenDaylight now, that won't be an issue later and the greater flexiility would be more attractive.

Not that I think Cisco is endangered by this decision in any way, but it seems to me that more and more businesses want greater flexibility.
User Rank: Blogger
3/7/2014 | 10:21:37 PM
Re: Not really simplifying
That has been the story so far, and one which they are trying to change. The simple thing would be to push OpenDaylight Hydrogen because a lot of it is Cisco's code anyway, but that would also enable more companies to move away from all-Cisco networks.
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/7/2014 | 5:54:15 PM
Not really simplifying
The Application Policy Infrastructure Controller sounds not so much like simplifying. It sounds like yet another controller to manage. 
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