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Cisco enterprise boss reports on programmability

Catalyst 3850 in an academic OpenFlow exercise; its chip on the Cat 4K later this year; and why we're more like Juniper

By Jim Duffy on Wed, 05/01/13 - 2:59pm.

The Catalyst 3850 switch with Cisco's programmable Unified Access Data Plane (UADP) ASIC and Cisco ONE APIs is in early adopter OpenFlow deployments with academia, reports Rob Soderbery, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Enterprise Networking Group. Once the 3850 is "fleshed out" other platforms will inherit Cisco ONE programmability hooks, he says.

The UADP might beat the software architecture to those platforms. The Catalyst 4500 will get the chip in the latter half of this year, Soderbery says, and the Catalyst 6500 will be evaluated after that.

UADP rollouts are "a separate thread" from that of Cisco ONE, Soderbery said. Cisco will be showing Cisco ONE applications for the campus at Cisco Live in June.

[A COMPETITOR'S PERSPECTIVE: Juniper switching boss talks technology challenges, Cisco Nexus 6000]

In sizing up the SDN competition, Soderbery says Cisco has more in common with Juniper than with "OpenFlow purist" HP: a mix of centralized and distributed decision making and forwarding vs. the distinctly decoupled forwarding and control in an OpenFlow architecture.

SDN would be an overlay on top of that.

"If you need to reinvent all of networking on top of OpenFlow, you have a long road in front of you," Soderbery said. "By layering SDN on, you get all the benefits without losing the functionality."

As for Juniper, the introduction of the EX9200 switch might provide an opportunity for Cisco to pick up share, Soderbery notes. Existing Juniper EX8200 customers face a total core replacement if they choose to upgrade to the EX9200, a situation likely to cause some to consider other vendors.

"Juniper's been losing momentum in the campus,"