Cisco recently announced its Open Network Environment, or Cisco ONE, strategy. The new architecture is the foundation by which Cisco networks will eventually be provisioned entirely through software APIs, otherwise known as cloudbursting, which I have discussed before.
At a high level, software-defined networks (SDNs) are becoming the rage because of the pace of change. Since the dawn of time (Unix epoch time at least), networks have been built with hard wires between hardware. As companies innovate with new information-based products and services, developers want to be able to test out their ideas in a real network setting without going through the process of provisioning telecom circuits the old-fashioned way. When a product or service launches, companies may want to set up a huge network one week and tear it down the next— akin to a traveling circus rolling from town to town.
Cloud-based computing allows this kind of dynamic, on-demand architecture, but without SDNs, the networks can’t keep up. As a result, issues with security, robustness, manageability, mobility and evolution are slowing down cloud-based adoption. Cisco ONE looks to be a part of the solution. The architecture provides a set of APIs, agents and controllers, and overlay network technologies that make all of the non-physical layers on a network both flexible and extensible.
Cisco believes that Cisco ONE is a significant improvement over SDNs based entirely on OpenFlow. Regardless of how things eventually shake out, what is clear is that carriers will be able to program a network using a variety of protocols and further customize it according to their usage patterns and deployment models. At some point, the carriers will take advantage of this by extending capabilities to customers—and that’s when the fun really begins.