As details from Insieme emerge, partners say they are confident in Cisco's SDN play.
SIGMAnet's Reese told CRN that his clients have been building programmable networks, to some extent, for years. But it's the centralized management capabilities of ACI that seems especially promising.
"For years I have had customers that, in one way or another, built programmable networks through scripting and other types of things. But the challenge that has never really been tackled well is the management of the infrastructure," Reese said. "And the Insieme application-centric programmability model -- with the ability to talk to all types of silicon, be it Cisco or others -- to me, if they truly get that right, it will be the better, faster way to do the trick that everybody has been looking for for years."
Reese also said Cisco's success in the past when breaking into new markets -- as it did with its Unified Computing System -- is telling of how Cisco will fare in the SDN space.
"If you look at what Cisco did with unified compute, they went into what was arguably a commoditized market, late to the game, and they are a market share leader today," Reese said. "Many people have said [Cisco is] trying to change the mood of the [SDN] game. I would argue that [Cisco is] changing the game completely."
Kent MacDonald, vice president of Converged Infrastructure at solution provider and Cisco Gold Partner Long View Systems, also said he is confident in Cisco's ability to emerge as a market leader in the SDN space.
"[ACI] gives me confidence, as a partner, that Cisco is going to be a serious contender in this market," MacDonald told CRN. "It gave me confidence that they have thought this out, and I think the market will respond very positively."
MacDonald also said he thinks Cisco's formal entry into the SDN market will validate SDN and network virtualization concepts as whole.
"I think it will legitimize this market," MacDonald said. "And I think [people will say], 'If Cisco is going to be supporting it, then I feel more comfortable making an investment.'"
Larry Van Deusen, director of network integration, Dimension Data Americas, a global Cisco Gold partner, said he thinks Cisco will have a leg up in the SDN market because ACI allows customers to continue to leverage much of their existing physical Cisco infrastructures.
"There's this concept of how, if I am a client, am I going to get from my existing infrastructure today to take advantage of SDN and what it can offer me tomorrow," Van Deusen said. "That's where Cisco has a significant advantage in their strategy of having a function or focus on a portfolio of products that will coexist with traditional IP networks and core networks."
Van Deusen, like SIGMAnet's Reese, also referenced Cisco's success with UCS and drew a comparison to ACI.
"I don't think, because of Cisco's position in this market, that they will lose this market," Van Deusen said. "I think they are going to have more competition, certainly, than they have seen in the past, as this technology evolves and they face new players like VMware, for example. But I don't think they'll cede the fight very quickly."
PUBLISHED NOV. 6, 2013