Some pretty interesting quotes from Cisco’s CTO’s reveals that Cisco will try to leverage their dominance in enterprise networking to try and stave off the challenge of SDN. In a NetworkWorld article Cisco’s CTO is quoted as saying:
“We see the network as a platform where applications can be programmed, where information can be processed and where data and business processes can be much more efficient”
To me this sounded very similar to the overall goal of SDN. However, Cisco isn’t looking to separate the control plane from the hardware but use protocols and basically an API to allow two way control from the network and application layer. The control plane would still exist within Cisco’s hardware layer which would allow them to maintain their dominance. According to the article they are looking for enterprise partners to help drive the requirements and testing of the concept.
I think the argument for SDN still exists by leveraging the program interface as just another feature managed via a centralized control plane. Just like any other hardware based improvement is given new API’s and Management tools in an OS this programmatic network would just be an option that is abstracted by SDN. I would say that Cisco is fighting a losing battle but they have customer’s ears and could push this strategy while SDN is still forming; much like other standards they’ve pushed while the industry took time to settle.
I’d encourage you to read the article at NetworkWorld. It was very enlightening to know where Cisco is headed versus where the primary discussion has been for managing the future enterprise data center.