Bring Networking Projects Under A Common Umbrella, Urges Cisco’s Dave Ward


As a “networking guy,” Cisco CTO of Engineering and Chief Architect Dave Ward finds it frustrating that today, although somebody can fire up an application and ask for CPU, RAM and storage, they can’t even ask for bandwidth. They have very simple networking primitives all the way up to the PaaS (Platform as a Service) layer.

Developers shouldn’t have to “keep the whole stack in their head,” said Ward, in his Collaboration Summit keynote. “From that developer’s point of view, I want to be able to fire up my workload, and I just want it to work.”

In his wide-ranging talk, titled “Umbrellas Aren’t Just for When It’s Raining,” Ward offered his thoughts on points including “building network projects in the stack so developers don’t have to know or care what’s going on.” A “no-stack developer” wants all of the controllers, analytics, orchestration, and service chaining just to work.

Ward’s goal is for the infrastructure to just do what a developer needs to have happen… thereby “creating a no-stack developer environment in which intent can be driven directly into the network.”

Ward discussed various open source projects that have sprung up in the past two years, and he said, “The Linux Foundation has done an outstandingly good job of pulling together communities that fill certain niches and certain functionality inside this stack.”

“The Linux Foundation has proven itself to be a perfect place for us to collaborate,” said Ward, with more than a dozen network projects, millions of lines of code under management, and many corporate sponsors and developers working together on multiple projects.

“I’m trying to catalyze, through this talk, a conversation about how to take all the projects we have and pull them together under an umbrella,” said Ward.

Toward that end, he says, “We could continue with ‘Let a thousand flowers bloom, and let a thousand communities rise’ and continue the way we are currently operating now.” But, suggests Ward, it would be good to have some planning around how to allocate resources: what’s the key focus, what needs to be built inside that architecture, and then align the cost.

Ward says, “It’s time to talk about creating a networking umbrella over all these foundations and projects.” Ward clarifies that he is talking about “The actual mechanism by how we can do this with an understanding of the governance structures, not the technical structures.” This could get the industry to point where they could fill in and continue to complete all the pieces that are necessary for orchestration, config, provisioning, and resources.

At minimum, urged Ward, “If we can’t get an umbrella architecture, we know a lot of the places that we need to fill in and have to work as an industry to create communities around those projects to get the job done.”

Watch Dave Ward’s full keynote, below: