Cisco Cloud CTO Updates OpenStack Progress [VIDEO]

Lew Tucker details Cisco's progress in the cloud and explains why VLANs are still important.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted May 13, 2013
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Where do open source cloud, SDN, and the Internet of Things intersect?

That's a question that Cisco's CTO for Cloud, Lew Tucker answers in an exclusive Cisco Lew Tucker video interview with Enterprise Networking Planet. Tucker also details Cisco's OpenStack progress and explains why sometimes a VLAN is still the right solution.

In October of 2012, Tucker helped Cisco launch its own OpenStack cloud platform edition. Six months later, the effort has gained tangible traction among Cisco customers. The Comcast OpenStack cloud, which was demoed at the recent OpenStack conference, is just one public example of the impact that Cisco is already having on the cloud.

Tucker noted that while anyone can take the Cisco Edition of OpenStack to build a cloud, Cisco itself has been selective in actual customer engagements.

"These are rather large engagements that we have, and OpenStack is also still very new," Tucker said. "We are doing these much more as a joint development effort with our customers in different areas."

Some of Cisco's cloud customers are looking for virtualized network services for traditional networking gear, including firewall, load balancing, and WAN acceleration. OpenStack is the foundation for delivering some of those services. Cisco's isn't necessarily selling OpenStack as a direct product. Instead, Tucker stressed that his company has more of a technology partnership with its customers.

"OpenStack allows us to connect the applications to take advantage of all the programmable infrastructure in the SDN layer," Tucker said. "This is where our customers want to know where we are in the space, but more importantly, these issues turn into networking problems, so they are leveraging the relationship they already have with Cisco."

Nexus 1000-KV

Cisco has a number of virtual switching assets already in the market, including the Nexus 1000v virtual switch. Tucker said that Cisco is now in the process of developing a new Nexus 1000KV specifically for the KVM hypervisor on Linux. The new virtual switch will be integrated into the OpenStack Quantum Network Service as a plug-in when it's completed.

Currently, Cisco's OpenStack implementations leverage traditional VLAN technology and Open vSwitch technology. Open vSwitch is an open source switch that has been part of the mainline Linux kernel since March of 2012, thanks to a contribution from VMware's Nicira division.

The new Nexus 1000-KV will provide additional scalability via support for the VXLAN overlay. VXLAN is an emerging standard first proposed by VMware, Cisco and Citrix in September of 2011 as a way for providing a Layer 2 abstraction for virtual machines so they are not restricted to a particular LAN boundary.

VLANs are limited to 4,092 VLAN tags for network segments, which can be too low of a scalability limit for some cloud vendors. Tucker said that Cisco's deployment customers have not seen a need for a large number of isolated network segments and VLANs work fine for their usage model, however.

"If I want to separate my management traffic from my user traffic, I'm going to use traditional VLANs for that," Tucker said.

The Internet of Everything

While cloud and SDN are key drivers for Cisco's networking business, so too is the Internet of Everything concept. Cisco is forecasting the Internet of Everything to be a massive market worth $14.5 Trillion.

The Internet of Everything is fueling a need for Big Data and analytics, which in turn requires a big increase in compute and storage requirements.

"Then when you tie it back to how do you connect to all these devices, Software Defined Networking comes into it, as we need much more dynamically programmable networking infrastructure," Tucker said. "It's a virtuous cycle that is being created."

Watch the video with Lew Tucker, Cisco CTO for Cloud, below.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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