There has been a lot of speculation in recent months about a bold new Cisco effort to redefine its place in the emerging world of Software Defined Networking (SDN). Today that speculation bore fruit when Cisco detailed its vision for Insieme Networks.
Soni Jiandani, senior vice president for Insieme Networks, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that Insieme is a subsidiary company 85 percent owned by Cisco.
"Insieme is primarily an organization that is focusing on working on the next-generation data center solutions, around an application-centric infrastructure that will complement Cisco's existing portfolio," Jiandani said.
The goal at Insieme is to simplify networking from end to end by taking an application-centric approach that doesn't rely simply on building a network of disparate boxes.
As to why Cisco is doing this innovation through Insieme and not directly with its own research and development, entirely under the Cisco brand name, Jiandani said that there are a few key reasons. Among them is the fact that Cisco needs and wants to drive innovation through every means possible.
"It's very common in Cisco's practice to look at innovation through a variety of methods, including both internal development and models like Insieme," Jiandani said.
From a financial model perspective, Jiandani explained that as a majority subsidiary owned by Cisco, Insieme aims to work in a synergistic way with Cisco to build out the portfolio and solution base.
"We will leverage, where applicable, Cisco technology so we are not reinventing the wheel," Jiandani said. "From a go-to-market perspective, manufacturing, customer support, and all the elements that are already built-out within Cisco will be brought to bear."
As to what, specifically, Insieme is building, the company currently talks mostly about its vision of where its future products will fit in. Jiandani explained that the Insieme platform should be considered a set of capabilities at the system level. It's not just software, as it will also involve innovation in hardware and silicon ASICS.
"It will allow our customers to build-out a penalty-free overlay," Jiandani said.
The Insieme platform vision is to deliver a virtualization model that can run across the network, tying the application and network infrastructure layers together though a common policy management framework.
The Insieme Platform will also leverage and benefit from existing Cisco SDN efforts, including Cisco ONE and the open source OpenDaylight project.
Jiandani said that further details on the Insieme platform will be revealed later this year.
"I would expect that in the second half of the calendar year, we will be rolling out more details, including the product details," Jiandani said. "You should expect that there will be some beta customers participating with us in the launch, talking about how a migration to this model has enabled their success."
Dynamic Fabric Automation
While Insieme represents the forward-looking vision for Cisco, there are also some tangible innovations that Cisco wants its customers to have more rapidly. Among those innovations is the new Dynamic Fabric Automation (DFA) model and a new Nexus 7700 switch.
Shashi Kiran, senior director of data center, cloud, and open networking, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that what is unique about DFA is that it helps to solve the challenges of complex network provisioning.
"What DFA does is, it optimizes the network for greater efficiency, and it brings in management simplicity," Kiran said.
Cisco is also expanding its data center switching portfolio with the Nexus 7770 series. The Nexus 7770 is the latest evolution of the Nexus 7000, which Cisco first announced in 2008. The first generation of Nexus 7000 boxes supported up to 512 10 GbE connections and 15 Tbps of switching capacity. The new top-end Nexus 7718 is an 18 slot chassis and scales up to 83 Tbps of switching capacity. In terms of port density, the system can support up to 192 ports of 100 GbE and 384 ports of 40 GbE.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.