I’m not at Cisco Live in Las Vegas right now, but am living it vicariously through various tweets, podcasts, and similar bursts of real/near-real-time snippets of information from those who are attending. As a Cisco Champion and industry watcher, I’ve also gotten a bit of a whiff of at least some of what’s cooking at CLUS in the form of early briefings and such. There’s no doubt that Cisco is impressing many with promises of “network intuitive” and “intent-based networking”, but there’s also an undercurrent of skepticism trickling out.
Why would would anyone have doubts about Cisco’s next big thing?
For me, I try to look at it from two perspectives- as best I can as a long-time Cisco customer:
- What would I think of all of this if I was shopping for a new solution and wasn’t all that familiar with Cisco?
- As a long-time Cisco customer, what am I energized about? What is off-putting about the messaging coming out of CLUS?
I would imagine that if I was new to the Ciscosphere, I’d maybe think that this is all very exciting and cutting-edge sounding. Perhaps I’d think that some of this sounds very Avaya-esque in the notion a super-advanced network fabric-y thing that breaks from traditional networking in a number of exciting ways. Maybe I’d get all jazzed about the promise of reduced labor and administrative overhead that comes with doing networking in a whole new way. In other words, I’d probably get the warm fuzzy that Cisco is hoping to create with it’s current full-court press on marketing and dazzle.
But, I’m not new to Cisco, so I can’t do more than cross fingers that this new buzzword-clad architecture actually solves/prevents problems and doesn’t stretch expensive licensing paradigms into the ridiculous. It’s fair to say that I’m seriously jaded. I’ve seen one initiative after another come and go, always with fancy names and high promise. That’s OK, and I’m not throwing dirt- vendors gotta try stuff, and everything in the IT world evolves. Just don’t expect me to swallow that it will be the end-all. Within a few years, the next big thing will show up.
What I’m NOT OK with is some of what is being presented at CLUS, as it feels incomplete. Many of the promises being made are predicated on an assumed foundation of good code under all of the new magic. As the long-time customer, I see no evidence that Cisco’s own intolerance for crappy code is getting any closer to mine. When bad code hits my environment- and bad code hits frequently- I have to act quickly to get dozens of thousands of users back on track. Cisco seems to not feel the urgency, as churning out problematic code has become routine (in my estimation).
The new stuff HAS to get better. It can’t be built on today’s problems.
I’m not the only one looking at flashy infographics from CLUS and seeing my own edits write themselves into the slides, like these:
I’m really not bitter- just battered and beat up a bit by code (and hardware) problems that suck up hundreds of man-hours a year to get past. I want to believe that “network intuitive” will be transformative. But first I need to hear how the underlying culture that has allowed so many problems out the door is going to change. It’s hard to accept that somehow we’re spending too much on OpEx costs and need new network magic to reduce them when a significant portion of those costs come from dealing with code bugs from the vendor that promises the new magic.
To not address these code shortcomings and their underlying culture straightaway is to already cut into the excitement that should be felt about “network intuitive”.