Greg Ferro posted on his blog another plea to Cisco to play nice and give network engineers tools for testing, verifying, and learning new technology. If you’ve missed the recent debate on the matter, it’s OK. Crawl back under that rock, you won’t miss a thing.
I generally read Greg’s posts while nodding my head like some sick bobble headed doll, with an occasional grunt in agreement. However today, my head stopped bobbing when I realized something…
Cisco is AFRAID of the virtual switch/router.
Let that sink in for a minute.
I know what you’re thinking. “They don’t have anything to be afraid of. That’s crazy talk.” I’m sure that people said the same about Dell and HP when ESX was first announced. “They don’t have anything to worry about. No data center could ever virtualize all of their servers. That’s just crazy.” Only, it did happen. Right now I am sitting just a few hundred feet from 100 servers that would be over 500 servers if it wasn’t for vmWare. Think of the lost revenue to Dell and HP.
But, you say, “what about the Nexus 1000v”. What about it? Cisco had already lost sales because all of those virtual servers didn’t need individual switchports. That was Cisco’s way of getting some of that revenue back. It wasn’t about extending network engineer’s control into the virtual environment. It was about lost port revenue.
Imagine with me for a moment. What would happen if you could virtualize the Edge and Core layers of your network all onto a single HA cluster. (Maybe a couple of Dell or HP servers.)
Where is the need for 10GB, 40GB, 100GB, TRILL, or Fabric Path? What about all of the other technologies that Cisco will sell us over the next 10 years, forcing us to replace existing hardware?
Outside of the HA cluster, you would need a couple of switches for Distribution, and you would need your normal Access layer switches, but how many components of the network would be cut? Not only routers, firewalls, and switches, but adapters, redundant power supplies, wireless controllers.
It’s already been done. Look at Cisco Call Manager. A router, switch, and server that do the work of racks and racks of PBX equipment.
“But, I just want them to release it so that I can test.”
Cisco has three choices: 1. Stick fingers in their ears and hum loudly. (Current tactic) 2. Release a good virtual network platform, and wait for everyone to ask, “wait…why can’t we virtualize this for real?” 3. Release a crippled, barely working virtual platform, and then get derided for their poor product.
No matter how Cisco looks at it, they lose.
Suddenly I am asking myself. After IPv6, what is the next big thing to happen in networking? Could virtualization change networking the way it changed servers?