Enterprises could use it to virtualize workloads and implement virtual desktop environments, and orchestrate security profiles for private cloud automation, Ward said. He then outlined the Cisco OPEN architecture, the same one previewed by CTO Padmasree Warrior in her Interop keynote earlier this month.
Cisco OPEN, which is also expected to be officially introduced at CiscoLive, is intended to open up the network with APIs at layers other than just the data and control plane, which is where the popular OpenFlow protocol is targeted. Cisco's SDN architecture harvests network intelligence from the infrastructure, delivers it to an analytics engine which then churns it into orchestration routines for policies, which are then programmed back into the network infrastructure.
Cisco says this architecture will apply to all flavors of SDNs - from direct APIs between applications and the network; to controllers governing OpenFlow-enabled devices and other agents; to virtual overlays between applications and the physical and virtual network.
In this scenario, OpenFlow is but one of many protocols and APIs that can be used to implement SDNs, Cisco officials stressed. And instead of commoditizing its hardware, as many in the industry expect, Cisco says SDNs will create more value for Cisco's ASICs, operating systems, software-based services and partner applications.
"Commoditization happens when you don't deliver value," said Kiran.
Added Ward on SDNs: "It will redefine where we are as a software vendor. It will redefine our software business."
But the benefits for enterprises may have to wait a while. SDNs are a nascent market and the potential of programmability may be currently limited to the more extensive resources and requirements of service providers.
"Overall, SDN promises easier provisioning and simplified management, particularly for service providers such as Verizon and Rackspace," states Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Gelblum in a bulletin on SDNs. "For now, we believe SDN and OpenFlow still require IT organizations to have substantial technical and engineering capabilities to deploy and as such, remains out of reach for most IT managers.
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