Today I had the pleasure and honor of being invited to be a delegate at Tech Field Day Extra at Cisco Live. This has become an annual tradition for Tech Field Day at Cisco Live and other vendor expo’s, and I was lucky enough to be included as a delegate this year. If you’ve never heard of Tech Field Day, make sure to check out techfieldday.com to learn more about it. Odds are, if you’re reading this post, you’ve heard something about it and know the usual format. During one of the normal TFD events, there are typically 4 vendors per day over a 2-3 day period. TFDx Day 1 was different, as it was eight hours that were solely dedicated to Cisco.
The major initiative that Cisco has rolled out over the past few weeks, and the major focal point of CEO Chuck Robbins keynote on Monday at Cisco Live was called The Network Intuitive. My takeaway from this initiative has been that Cisco is really focusing on software driven networking, and that was the main point that was driven home during TFDx. Cisco wants software to be the driving force behind change in the network, moving to a fully automated (their words) network that can provide secure intent driven networking that will evolve and allow for new technologies to be added to hardware without having to rely on the old ‘Rip and Replace’ when an unsupported feature you need became available in the past.
I will say that at first, I was skeptical of the possibility that software had become the main focus of Cisco. I also admit, this is out of ignorance and not understanding how Cisco had evolved the process of designing their ASIC’s and software from the bottom up, completely changing from a monolithic IOS, where you had a WYSWYG IOS that drove the hardware, to IOS-XE (and XR), which were more container based and could have features added as they were needed. But the underlying driver to all of this was the flexible ASIC that allowed for new features to be integrated at the silicon level and added as they were released, simply by upgrading the IOS or adding a feature set.
They also discussed many other features of the new SD-Access and Digital Network Architecture (DNA) platforms, which integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) along with Machine Learning to create a controller fabric that brings a whole new level of security and policy driven network implementation that I found very exciting. Being able to apply policies such as QoS on an extremely granular level, and having them integrated at the ASIC is something we haven’t seen before.
There are many other things that Cisco touched on today with the DNA discussion, and I will be breaking them down as I post more blogs about this great presentation. We were lucky enough to have the best of the best when it came to presenters from Cisco. I can honestly say that there was not a single one that I didn’t get something out of, even if it was my brain hurting from the sheer amount of information that it was attempting to process. I’ll be reviewing the videos as they are available and compiling my notes and getting a more precise picture of what was discussed. You can also view those videos at the TechFieldDay website.