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Highlight at Cisco Live - Report

Highlight’s Michael Topic recently attended the Cisco Live 2016 conference in Las Vegas. He found that one of the main areas of interest is the increasingly rapid adoption of software defined networking (SDN).

His feedback also confirms that Highlight remains one of a very few providers who are focused on making information about the performance and efficacy of SDNs palatable for non-technical business users.

Here are Michael’s main observations:



The event provided an excellent opportunity to see all the industry trends and expertise in context. Most of the discussions regarding SDNs looked at the requirement for virtualisation, automation and orchestration. As a bit of background, Cisco is current moving its IT over to its own SDN architecture called Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), whilst Service Providers are starting to virtualise their infrastructures to support 5G by working with open source providers. The resultant melding of these two offerings means that those managing large infrastructures, will often not be able to see or understand what is going on, which can lead to both performance and security issues.

As everything becomes virtualised, automated systems will set everything up and this is then managed by Network Orchestration products. Now with cloud and application workload orchestrators, the virtual system becomes far more flexible, so it can grow and shrink to meet loads and demand.

In this new virtualised and orchestrated world, you can have an application - that previously resided in either an enterprise operations centre or the cloud – located on either or both at the same time, to spread the load. For example, when 10,000 people log-on in Thailand, the application workload can move to cloud servers nearer that location to improve performance and then automatically move again when the load reduces – enabling enterprise applications to be far more responsive and elastic.

As workloads move around the planet and to different data centres, it's not only the technical operations teams that need to see how things are performing. Currently business users have very little visibility into why the characteristics of their business apps may have suddenly changed.

As I viewed all the parties involved in creating SDNs, it was interesting to note that Highlight is almost unique in its aim to simplify the view of these new complex networks. Most solutions currently out there are the traditional intricate tools designed for those who are focused on building and maintaining the network. Very few suppliers have concentrated on demystifying the network - which is great news for what we are doing with Highlight. Being able to show the automation of the network and applications in terms of business benefits is going to be really valuable.