Cisco Finally Details Its Software-Defined Networking Strategy - Page 2

The Cisco solution also embraces what are called "network overlays," in which the existing physical network layer remains untouched, but the overlay, running in a virtualized environment, controls the switches and routers.

A company called Adara Networks, which has delivered such overlay SDN technology exclusively to the U.S. Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration, has recently begun marketing to private enterprises.

Cisco is also incorporating other technology into its SDN strategy, Kiran said, and has been consulting with other industry standards bodies such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Internet Engineering Task Force, and International Telecommunications Union. Rather than basing its strategy on either the OpenFlow, OpenStack or the network overlay approach, Cisco is embracing "all of the above," he said.

"We are in a position to offer the best in each of these areas and we're in a position to break the siloes across all of these areas," Kiran said.

Cisco's all of the above approach includes the announcement of a proof-of-concept controller software and a proof-of-concept OpenFlow agent for SDN research. The company is also enabling scalable virtual overlay networks for multi-tenant cloud deployments with the Cisco Nexus 1000V virtual switch.

"This is by far the industry's most comprehensive developer environment with a developer kit and it is going to straddle all of our operating systems, all of our devices," Kiran said of the Open Network Environment PK. "It's going to be one homogeneous developer environment with a very rich set of APIs that exposes and enables customers to harness the intelligence that we bring into our networks."

Cisco has been criticized by competitors and members of standards bodies for being tepid about its support of protocols like OpenFlow and has been accused of planning to develop proprietary technology to impose "vendor lock-in" on its customers rather than support industry standards other vendors are embracing. At the news conference, Yen was asked why it took so long to introduce this strategy and whether the networking leader was, in fact, playing catch-up to competitors.

"We are not trying to make an announcement for marketing's sake just to get visibility," Yen said. "We truly wanted to provide the things not only to help the customer, but also things that Cisco thinks it can stand behind."

Because of news reports, Cisco was forced to acknowledge earlier this year that it had created a "spin-in" company called Insieme to also develop SDN-like technology. But a Cisco spokesman said the onePK development was not created with any input from the Insieme group.