SAN FRANCISCO -- Cisco Live -- A top Cisco executive dropped the S-bomb at Cisco Live Sunday, touting the company's SDN message. David Ward, Cisco's SVP engineering, CTO and chief architect, also said "shit" a few times, which is not something I've heard before at an opening keynote of a customer conference for a $49 billion multinational corporation.
Ward even included the word in a slide. ("Shit," that is. Not SDN. Although "SDN" came up a lot too.)
Ward, resplendent in no shoes, brightly colored socks, and faded jeans, along with other Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) executives, talked up network automation, virtualization, SDN, and NFV.
"We know that what you are being asked to do is to deliver services and capabilities to these demanding clients, these enterprises, and these consumers. We've seen how quickly this industry changes. You know, the iPhone was announced in this building seven years ago," Kit Beall, VP, Cisco global service provider segment, said on stage at the Moscone Center. "The iPhone is only seven years old." Innovation is happening fast -- but not fast enough.
Beall added, "So when the boss comes back -- and this has happened to all of us -- and says, 'Tell me about SDN. Tell me abut virtualization. What's going on with NFV?' we stop and we say, 'Hold on a second, there are some challenges here.'" Networks today are difficult to configure. "Innovation costs are pretty high." Integrating with billing systems, provisioning systems, and other back-office systems takes time.
Virtualization can streamline innovation, Ward said. "The point of what we're trying to build is to orchestrate the entire network and make it go faster. We've virtualized as much of the catalog as we possibly can, and we're going to continue to virtualize it: Mobility, security, video, collab[oration], voice-over-IP." He added, "Network functions virtualization is directly in our target zone and it's a pillar of our architecture.”
Virtualization can help companies find unused capacity on the network and manage network resources, which include the data center and cloud. Automated tools can find resources available in the data center to determine where workloads should be placed. And making more efficient use of the network can cut capex by about half, Ward said.
These are problems Cisco has been working to solve and releasing code to solve the problems in open source, Ward said.
Ward had the socks, but Kelly Ahuja, SVP/GM mobility business group, had the catchphrases. "The world of virtualization is very green. It is a greenfield network. But unfortunately none of us live in that kind of environment." We have existing technology to manage as well as build the new generation of virtualized networks, he said.
SDN can help manage the mix of existing and new equipment. "SDN does not stand for 'Still Does Nothing' -- it actually does a lot now," Ahuja said. SDN makes the network programmable and automated.
Virtualization can help service providers save 65% on opex and increase revenue 15%, while service providers' enterprise customers save 70% on operations, Ahuja added.
Cisco got an early start on its Cisco Live, with announcements in the days leading up to the event. Cisco introduced its WAN Automation Engine Sunday and tools for integrating virtual and physical networks on Friday. (See: Cisco Intros Automated WAN Management and Cisco Integrates Virtual, Physical Networks.)
We'll have more coverage of Cisco Live -- including photos of Ward's socks -- later this week.
Want to learn more about SDN and the transport network? Check out the agenda for Light Reading's Big Telecom Event (BTE), which will take place on June 17 and 18 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. The event combines the educational power of interactive conference sessions devised and hosted by Heavy Reading's experienced industry analysts with multi-vendor interoperability and proof-of-concept networking and application showcases. For more on the event, the topics, and the stellar service provider speaker lineup, see Telecommunication Luminaries to Discuss the Hottest Industry Trends at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event in June.