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July, 2011

Cisco Live 2011 – Day 2

Back for more!  Today was a busy, busy day that got off to a fast start as we dove right in to sessions.

BRKRST-3045 – LISP – A Next Generation Network Architecture

This session kicks off several inter-DC connectivity sessions I plan to hit this week.  We (Varrow) have started to see a lot more interest in workload mobility and with that comes a lot of discussion around how the networking will support such requirements.  LISP, Locator/ID Separation Protocol, works to solve some common problems with network addressing such as:

  • Current addressing schemes provide no locality information (Not solved by IPv6)
  • Addressing follows topology, which can greatly limit route aggregation
  • Hardware can be hard to scale as addressing scales (Think Internet routing table…)

Cisco has worked to develop LISP and solve these problems, and more.  First, LISP is completely open standard…no Cisco IP or patents.  It also does not require any changes to the end hosts.  It’s a network based solution and doesn’t even require many changes to the network.  In simple terms, LISP is very analogous to DNS as a LISP enabled router will perform a lookup of a destination host to get its location so an IP may exist anywhere and yet still be reachable.  LISP basically creates dynamic tunnels when a host at one site connects to a device at another LISP enabled site.  It adds its own header to a packet…which can be IPv4 or IPv6.  You normally do this encap/decap at the perimeter, which means most network devices and hosts are completely unaware it’s even being done.  This is a good thing…it means your firewalls or VPN end-points will function just as they do now since the encap/decap is done at the edge.  As a LISP-encapsulated packet comes in to your network the header information will be removed and the original packet will be sent to the firewall.  Note that this will have an impact on MTU as the header adds 36 bytes to the packet.

This is a very simplistic view of LISP and I hope to write a more detailed post on it later.

There are many use cases for LISP:

  • Multi-Homing – Allows for multi-homing without the complexity of BGP
  • IPv6 Migration – LISP can encapsulate and “tunnel” IPv6 packets across IPv4 networks
  • VPNs – Allows for highly scaled out VPN configurations
  • VM Mobility – The use case that drives my interest.  If we shift VMs to other locations LISP allows that VM to be located without complex route configurations.

We will all be hearing more about LISP.  It’s a great technology with a very straight forward implementation methodology and it solves a lot of problems that need to be solved.  It’s nice when something like this can solve several things with one solution.

Tuesday Keynote with John Chambers

After the first session it was time for the Tuesday keynote with John Chambers.  There were a few distractions before the keynote even started.  First, a rumor was making the rounds that Cisco plans to cut a lot of jobs…up to 14% of the company.  That caught many people off guard.  Second, and I’m really not sure why they did this, VMware announced vSphere 5 right before Chambers took the stage and their announcement was still going on which took a lot of social media attention off of Cisco’s keynote.

After most people were seated the keynote was kicked off by a sudden flash mob dancing around the floor and then on stage.

The keynote was PACKED!  It’s a large space but everyone came to listen to Chambers.


The keynote had a bit of a somber tone.  Rumors of layoffs at Cisco had already hit the press earlier that morning and much of the messaging was around how Cisco was refocusing around their core business.  It was optimistic, but not up beat.  Even the stage felt very subdued.  It wasn’t the usual colorful setup….boring.  It’s always a joy to hear Chambers speak but this time it just didn’t feel the same.  Even the collaboration live demo felt very staged and canned.

BRKDCT-2081 – Cisco FabricPath Technology and Design

My after-lunch session was around FabricPath.  I already love FabricPath and its sister open standard, TRILL.  The whole idea is to take a collection of data center switches and make them act like one giant switch.  Get rid of spanning-tree between them.  Utilize all links.  Be able to multipath across this “fabric”.  It’s that Holy Grail of layer 2 connectivity.

Scott was also in this session with me and his live blog with great content is here.


Cisco Live Daily Blog Techminute

In the afternoon I was fortunate enough to be invited to sit in on an installment of Cisco’s Daily Blog Techminute.  The members included me, Brian Gracely from Cisco, and Jeramiah Dooley from VCE.  We talked about the Chambers keynote, VCE, and partner relationships.  It was a lot of fun and I hope to do it again in the future.

Link direct to the video:


Another good, but very busy day.  Earlier I also did a video blog for Train Signal talking about the new vSphere Security course we are launching so it made for a fun day.  That reminds me…I need to do a post on the new course….soon.


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