Ok, the day 2 here has been a slightly better one for me than the 1st, and I aim to provide a brief summary of my day below.
I attended the morning keynote presentation which was about a new video conferencing and collaborating platform Cisco has introduced alongside WebEx called Project Squared which looked pretty awesome and I can see myself using this to do video conferences with my customers. you can sign up free here.
I had 2 events I had specifically planned to attend on day 2 both of which I managed to do. First one was a 1-on-1 meeting with a Cisco engineer to have a pure techie discussion without marketing BS about ACI. It was Bradley Wong from the Insieme Network business unit (ACI) I met up with and the meeting was very useful for me to understand the underlying architecture of ACI without having to put up with marketing / presales buzzwords. We also discussed about key features on the roadmap and the below key additions (due out soon apparently) would be worth mentioning I think.
- Stateful packet inspection with the AVS (Appliance virtual switch) – AVS is a kernel module that sits on the hypervisor, similar to a nexus 1000v or a VMware distributed switch (or a logical switch if you are talking VMware NSX). One thing NSX has today, (marketing buzzword is “Micro Segmentation”) is the ability to do packet inspection at vmnic driver level and any packets that are bloked based on firewall rules are blocked at the vmnic driver level (packet never enters the virtual wire). This is achieved through the distributed firewall, which effectively relies on a special kernel module, which is a VIB added to the ESXi kernel during the host preparation stage. This is not something available today on ACI but with the above update due soon, that is going to be available within ACI also apparently.
Another thing we discussed was the co-existence of Cisco ACI along with VMware NSX (which I think would be a very common use case going forward and would be quite complementary of each other). While this was something Cisco internally anticipated too, not much testing had been done internally early on. However they are now testing this deployment internally and soon, we should start seeing more contents from Cisco, such as validated design guides, best practise guidance…etc. This should be really cool as I personally see places in the enterprise for both.
After the meeting with Bradley, I spent some time at the Cisco DevZone in the north wing and came across some really, really cool development projects, some of which are in the making within Cisco, and some 3rd party startups using Cisco development tools. Given below are couple of the ones I really liked
- Relayr – Relayr is a small startup that has manufactured this awesome piece of circuit boards called a Wunderbar as a practical way of creating IOT (Internet of Things). It includes 2 modules, a master module and 6 independent mini modules (A tiny Light/Color/Proximity censor, Accelerometer/Gyroscope, Bridge/Grove censor, Sound censor, IR transmitter and a temperature/Humidity censor) each with an integrated Bluetooth chip and is powered by a small replaceable battery. The master module as a Bluetooth to WIFI bridge. You can buy this online and create an app on any supported API (Android, Windows, IOS…etc) using the free SDK (guidance available on their site) to capture the readings off of those mini units and do something with them or event post them on to the cloud via the master module. For example, there was another startup who had made a baby monitor using these circuit boards with an App on your phone to monitor readings which was awesome. Innovation is aplenty with these guys…. (I might even buy a one and try my own little project)
See the master board and mini board below (all come attached together which you can easily snap off,
- VIRL (Virtual Internet Routing Lab) – Again, a pretty awesome virtual network design & simulation platform that include VM’s running Cisco’s core network operating systems. You can use this platform to design, model and simulate a complete enterprise network, consisting of virtual version of the same physical Cisco networking kit such as routers that run the same code base. A potentially good dev and test platform. Apparently this could even be plugged in to your actual network and say, you had a VMware virtual network infrastructure with virtual switches, that it can discover those too to allow you to map and validate your entire network. Sounds pretty useful to the Networking folks (not so much for me being a Server, Storage & a Virtualisation guy). However the coolest part at Cisco live was that they had a modelled network on VIRL hooked up to a virtual reality system where you can, virtually enter the network and inspect each and every device (even interrogate them for information such as traceroute, ifconfig…etc. This required you to put these huge pair of goggles on and control your virtual walk using an Xbox controller but it was great fun, being able to walk from one router to another router in this virtual world and be able to run commands locally at each device. Fun aside though, I can see the real potential use of VIRL platform in the enterprise (doesn’t ship with the virtual reality bit of course :-))
After the DevZone experience, I attended my last planned session of the day which was a lecture by Ramses Smeyers from the Cisco Technical services center about Hypervisor Networking – Best practise for Interconnecting with Cisco switches. This was more of a refresher for me as I’ve done quite of integrating VMware systems with Cisco switches most my life, but a useful refresher nevertheless and it also covered other Hypervisors such as Hyper-V and Xen.
Al in all, it was a good day and having seen some interesting tech & Internet Of Things concepts being pioneered by Cisco on show, it was obvious that innovation is thriving at Cisco which is very good to see.