Call to Arms!

Completed a great couple of days in labs and discussions with fellow travellers on the journey to the programmable network!  We were in London on a Cisco Cat 9K/DNA Center Programmability course, with the legend that is John Swartz (of Boson tests and Cisco books fame).  He really started opening our eyes to the possible, looking at how through the magic of Python it is possible to run event-driven processes on LAN switches, orchestrate the management capabilities of DNA Center, and build platform-agnostic configurations using YANG models, then deploy them over NETCONF.

This stuff really brings it home what is there now and what will be possible in the networks of the 2020s.  It's time to start assembling the ideas to build out the real tangible network service that we can offer customers so that they can consume the networks the way they need to for their business.  Zero-touch provisioning for IoT.  Software overlays for abstracting the complexities of the network transport and presenting them as a single entity to the consumer wherever they or their apps live.  Building the hybrid clouds that people have been promising by integrating on-premise and public cloud environments.  Providing the ability to define access to the network in terms of who you are, not what your IP address is!  All of these tools are there now, but need to be orchestrated to provide a seamless experience for the user and application owner.

There will always be a need for the guys who understand how networks work - while we have IPv4 networks, we will need to understand MAC addresses, ARP, routing protocols, VPNs and so on, because stuff will stop working without that knowledge and people won't be able to get it going again!  But the complexities of these things need to be abstracted away for a customer to become a consumer of the network service.  Orchestration through programmability of the devices and their controllers will give us the ability to create a true end-to-end service.  This is a call to arms - watch this space because things are starting to get really interesting!

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