To me, every day is a learning day and as some of my luckiest colleagues have just returned from a trip to Barcelona to take part in the latest Cisco Live Event, I wanted to find out all about it. So, I had a chat with Marc Mawson, one of our Senior Network Consultants and he talked me through all the latest from Cisco and explained in more detail about the technology.
FJ: You’ve just got back from Barcelona, how long were you there?
MM: Five days in total, so I flew out on the Sunday, and was there ready for the start on Monday morning.
FJ: Tell me about Cisco Live?
MM: The whole purpose of Cisco Live is to promote the new technologies to partners and customers alike, to get partners talking to each other and to Cisco, it’s a very social event, but perhaps most importantly it’s a great opportunity to learn.
FJ: What types of activities are there?
MM: Breakout sessions enable you to go and learn about a very particular technology, there are “meet the engineer” events which means you can get the opportunity to talk to the people behind the technology. Another thing that I particularly enjoyed was they had interactive labs.
They also had all of the Cisco Teams there too; for instance there was an ACI team there and a Software Defined team to name a couple.
MM: Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) is to the data centre what SD-Access is to the campus. It is a very similar technology structured almost in an identical fashion that you would typically use in the data centre because it has various enhancements specifically designed for it.
You’ve basically got access to all these teams and they’re very friendly, you can go up and talk to them etc, so based upon that it’s been a very good experience, they’re probably sick of me to be perfectly fair, I did have a lot of questions!
FJ: So, what was top of your list with regards to questions to ask?
MM: When I went to the Opening Keynote speech there were a few things that stood out from that, one of which was that 400Gb Ethernet is a thing now, so that’s sort of the logical evolution of speeds, it’s not such a huge thing because not everyone is going to be using 400Gb, there’s barely a use case for 10Gb now, it’s more likely the ISPs are going to be excited about that. Whereas in the past the most they could get down one single cable would have been 100Gb, it's now 400Gb, so it’s a big advancement.
Another thing was ACI Anywhere, so I’ve just mentioned ACI is a software-defined solution for the data centre, you have a concept now of ACI Anywhere, which means your data centre can extend into the cloud, so with AWS and Azure you can now run that like its part of your own ACI environment. It’s very good at “glueing” hybrid cloud together, so that’s going to be something to watch.
There was also mention about various new enhancements for Hyper-converged. So Hyper-converged is a really big thing for Cisco and currently, there are a lot of cool things happening in this space, for example, they are changing the way it is deployed now. You can have what’s known as a Hyperflex Edge pod, which doesn’t have as many constraining factors as having standard Hyper-converged.
The final main thing for me was an announcement about the management of SD-WAN (Viptella). As you may well know, the management part of SD-Access is DNA Centre, the management portion of SD-WAN is vManage, those two things are going to become one single product. vManage is likely to be depricated as its functionality will become part of DNA Centre now, so we’re looking at a Zen-like place where you can manage your WAN and your LAN from one single interface, so that’s massively beneficial.
FJ: So, it’s just about complete simplicity for the end-user?
MM: For sure yes, that’s exactly right.
So, in terms of technology roadmaps and things that are being released that’s pretty much it for my main take homes.
FJ: So, for our customers, the end-users, what are the key benefits from all these advancements?
MM: ACI Anywhere is going to be a really big thing, it’s going to enable us to help customers with something that we haven’t really been able to do before, which is to tie together the public cloud with the private cloud. It was a bit messy in the past trying to do this and there was no one single point of management, so the need to treat your public and private clouds as separate entities, that’s gone away a bit now.
FJ: So, it simplifies the use of the cloud in a hybrid environment for the end user?
FJ: What about Hyper-converged?
MM: From a customer perspective this saves time and money, because storage and compute are combined, therefore less space is required, you don’t need to have a specific storage array or a specific network for that storage and you don’t need to employ someone to maintain the storage array, so it’s a real time and money saver. The other big advantage is the set-up time, which can be done quickly, 25mins is the aim, from box to fully operational setup, which is pretty impressive.
FJ: It sounds like Cisco are making big priorities of simplifying and speeding things up and for all their customers, which is ultimately some big wins all round.
So, what was the party like?
MM: Well, the Customer Appreciation Party was cool, it certainly exceeded my expectations quite significantly based on the fact that I had no real expectations to start with! Gnarly is one word I’d use!
FJ: Haha, so for those of us who don’t know, Gnarly?
MM: California Surfer slang circa 1990s, basically it means awesome and dangerous!
Well, thanks Marc for sharing your insights and explaining more about the technologies (and Surfer slang!) to me, as I said, every day is a learning day. It does look like Cisco Live was the place to be; educational, inspirational and fun. Watching the video I suspect “Gnarly” might be an understatement!
One thing’s for sure, next year, I’m coming with you!