It’s always a bit of a thrill to visit Cisco HQ, and to step within the walls of this global network powerhouse. I got to do that again at Mobility Field Day 4, and as usual the presentations and the visit just went too fast. Such is the way these events go… On this go round, Cisco offered us:
- Cisco Catalyst Access Expansion to Wireless (Sujit Ghosh)
- Cisco IoT WIth Next Generation Stack (Srinivas Annambhotla)
- Cisco OpenRoaming to Better Bridge Between Mobile and Wi-Fi Networks (Matt MacPherson)
Each is interesting and informative, especially when combined with the delagates questions. You’ll be glad you watched them, if you haven’t yet.
But something else jumped out at me at this event, and it may seem silly to even mention. Have a look at this sticker:
The wording of it got my mind working. In a number of directions.
I’m just sharing what’s in my head as a long-time Cisco wireless customer as I ponder the message on that innocous sticker.
I’m glad to see that CODE is the network, because it hasn’t always been. CODE, as presented like this, implies “reliable code, as surely you don’t want an unreliable network”. To that I would add “especially at the costs charged for licensing the hell out of everything”. The sticker mentions CODE + the 9000 Catalyst Series, and perhaps sends the message that it’s a new day for reliability? On that topic, the CODE in this case is IOS-XE, which displaces AireOS as what powers the Cisco line of wireless controllers. I do hear often that “IOS-XE has been out a long time so it has to be solid by now” kinda talk.
I’m not sure I buy into that, but am hopeful. If I’m a little skeptical, it’s because IOS-XE packaged as a wireless controller brain is a new paradigm, despite the maturity of the OS. And… despite many, many mea culpa sessions in private with Cisco’s wireless business unit through the years over wireless code quality, I have yet to see any sort of public-facing commitment to not repeat the development sins of the past as the new magic seeks to gain traction. This bothers me, in that I don’t know that the background culture that allowed so many problems with the old stuff isn’t being carried over into the new. My problem, I know. But I’m guessing I’m not alone with this feeling.
The other thing thing that this sticker has me thinking about is this: if the network is code, why do I need controller hardware? Yes, I know that the 9800 WLC can run in VM- but VM instances ultimately run on hardware. As a big Cisco customer with thousands of 802.11ac access points that run the latest AP operating system, I would love to be totally out of the controller business (and all the various management servers needed) WHILE KEEPING MY INSTALLED ACCESS POINTS. If the network is code, maybe let me point these things at my Meraki cloud and simplify life?
I’m just one man, with opinions. But that sticker did get me thinking…