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Understanding Cisco's Recent Changes

Paul Crist, Sr. Systems Architect

The last time that I went to Cisco Live it was called Networks, and that was over 15 years ago. A lot has certainly changed since then!

Speaking of change. Cisco is going through a company-wide change of culture/philosophy.  I understand that change is constant, but these changes go to the core of the company’s beliefs.  We need to understand these changes in order to move forward.

Everyone who works, or is going to be working in this industry, needs to know and understand the following Cisco changes that I witnessed at Cisco Live 2018.

API is the new CLI

This catch phrase (Application Program Interface is the new Command-Line Interface) was on t-shirts of the Cisco DevNet crew.  It’s hard to believe that 15 years ago DevNet was nonexistent and now they have roughly 50-percent of Cisco’s dedicated floor space.  This tells me that Cisco sees the future as being third party developers writing apps that connect via API to Cisco products.

There were also booths for hacking challenges and writing code for every different type of Cisco product. If a company like Cisco gave that much space to a group, they must be a big deal!

Software-Defined Access

Networking is evolving much as phones did 20 years ago.  For the past 30 years (yes, I have been around this industry for that long) Cisco’s focus has been on getting the packet from the edge to the core via layer two by using the spanning tree protocol.

With the volume of wired and wireless devices coming online in the next five years, this is not a scalable solution as we are already seeing a limited pool of network engineers in today’s marketplace to handle this workload.

DNA Center: a network engineer in a box

The Cisco DNA Center is what I like to refer to as a network engineer in a box. If used to its fullest potential, it can automatically configure the network edge and distribution layer switches. Then, allow intent based programming to connect groups of users together or isolate devices based on policy.

The Cisco DNA Center’s second most powerful part is network assurance, the gathering of data from the deployed network. You can actually replay data streams if you want to see what happened in the past or predict what might happen in the future. This engineer in the box is the wave of the future, and while the final product might end up being something else, understanding what Cisco is trying to accomplish is important.

Corporate Social Responsibility

“Corporate Social Responsibility,” is a topic that Cisco Chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins spent a good 10 minutes discussing in his address.  There were stations at the conference where you could put together pi-top modular laptops powered by the Raspberry Pi, which would be donated to NetAcad students.

For TERACAI, social responsibility has been a core value since the company’s inception. It’s nice to partner with a much larger organization that still reflects similar values as ours.

Overall, there was so much to see and learn at this year’s event! I would suggest taking a look at topics from Cisco Live 2018 that might interest you.

In order to succeed in this business, you need to be a life-long learner. Take time to educate yourself, it is well worth the investment.