Cisco IOU: What can Cisco do for Testing, Validation & the IPv6 challenge ?

In the If Cisco Would Give Us Anything for Learning/Testing.. post at NetworkWorld.com Wendell Odom asks “What do we really want ?”

Which is a good question. Of course, we want everything. But what is reasonable ?

I mentioned in the Cisco Learning Network IOU Labs announcement that their offering isn’t an answer for Cisco customers, resellers or consultants. It provides answers for students but doesn’t assist anyone else. And it doesn’t help solve the fundamental problems of implementing IPv6 in terms of change management, practical learning, risk reduction and user acceptance.

The Challenge

Lets be clear here. The biggest challenge for networking in the next five years is deploying and migrating to IPv6. Forget cloud, forget virtualisation, forget storage networking – they are all small beer compared to the IPv6 opportunity.

I think that IPv6 is going to drive IT budgets in a similar way to the Y2K bug did in 1998/1998. Vast sums of money will be invested to replace entire networks that have been underfunded for the last decade. Not everything needs replacing, but we will probably upgrade a lot of gear because we are already upgrading other stuff. Cisco, and its competitors, are releasing waves of new products to take advantage of this opportunity because most of the old products simply won’t work, or won’t work at speed, or won’t support certain features.

But will customers buy them if they aren’t confident ? How can we reduce risk, raise engineer confidence to buy early and commit to an early strategy ?

It’s also chance for Juniper and HP to break into the closed hegemony that Cisco owns. But that’s not an issue in this article.

The Problem

In 1998/1999 things were very different. We didn’t have change control at that time and most IT systems could be taken offline for the weekend. Now we have 24x7x365 systems that are unstoppable, the skills gap to deploy new technology is simply enormous. IT Managers ability to resist change, prevent technology and stop innovation is a force of revenue prevention for the major vendors.

Addressing the skills gap needs to be a priority for all the vendors so that its possible for Engineers to have the skills and confidence to make this change.

Everyone Else

It’s worth noting that Microsoft makes every piece of software available to anyone who can sign up to an MSDN account and pay a small subscription. VMware makes licensing available so that customers and resellers can create VMware labs and perform proof of concept, lab testing and lab validation. Vyatta has open source versions. Citrix XENSource can be gotten here. I could go on and on.

Many of these companies have been hugely successful in getting new technologies adopted. Makes you wonder.

What Cisco, HP, Juniper etc can do….

My understanding is that the problem comes down to licensing terms. I guess its possible that some compile library for Cisco’s IOU is proprietary but most likely it’s Cisco executives acting a bit silly. In the past I’ve heard statements like “Cisco software runs on Cisco hardware”, and “Cisco doesn’t give stuff away” which suggest a certain lack of clarity with Cisco’s management team.

I wonder if Cisco / HP / Juniper could make their emulators available under a subscription program ? That way:

  1. Copyright and legal ownership remains with the company,
  2. A commercial transaction takes place which, in legal terms, apparently has certain benefits.
  3. Many people would freely pay for it rather than live in fear of Cisco’s management and legal teams.

The EtherealMind View

The Cisco IOS on Unix files seem to be moving freely around the darker corners Internet – that particular “genie is out of the bottle” for the time being.

I’ve seen hints and teases from different places that Juniper is soon to release a version JunOS suitable for emulator type use to help them get greater penetration in the enterprise. Arista has EOS available as a VM. HP may have something in the works as well.

I’ve already made my case that Citrix Xen (open source), Vyatta, VMware, Microsoft have made their products freely available for training and testing and this has been a success for their business. I mean, how else did anyone ever want  to install SharePoint ?

Therefore my burning question is :- Why is Cisco being such poor business partner ?

Other Posts in A Series On The Same Topic

  1. Cisco IOU:Connect IOU with real or external networks (17th April 2011)
  2. Cisco IOU:Scripted Start Multiple Routing with L2IOU, memory (15th April 2011)
  3. Cisco IOU: What can Cisco do for Testing, Validation & the IPv6 challenge ? (15th April 2011)
  4. Cisco IOU: Starting Multiple Routers (15th April 2011)
  5. Cisco IOU: Shutting down the IOU Processes (15th April 2011)
About Greg Ferro

Greg Ferro is a Network Engineer/Architect, mostly focussed on Data Centre, Security Infrastructure, and recently Virtualization. He has over 20 years in IT, in wide range of employers working as a freelance consultant including Finance, Service Providers and Online Companies. He is CCIE#6920 and has a few ideas about the world, but not enough to really count.

He is a host on the Packet Pushers Podcast, blogger at EtherealMind.com and on Twitter @etherealmind and Google Plus

You can contact Greg via the site contact page.

  • http://lostintransit.se Daniel

    I agree, while the current release is a step in the right direction it is not really what we wanted. The least they could do is let us create own topologies with IOU through a website. I would like a solution simular to EC2 where you could rent capacity and only pay while using IOU. Now when I do rack rentals I waste a lot of time/cash since I can’t use the full slots. I would gladly pay this money to Cisco instead, 500$ so far. It is not reasonable to have to buy 2x everything you do just to be able to lab stuff or do a proof of concept. Hopefully if we keep putting pressure Cisco will listen and they are in a tough spot right now so maybe now is our shot to get uncle John to listen. Keep up the good job Greg.

  • Pingback: Cisco is SCARED! Why Cisco won’t release an emulator. « subnetwork

  • Mstoop

    Dear Greg,

    I might be able to point you towards some sun behind the clouds… I represent Cisco’s Hyperlab and we can conduct all sorts of testing for customers based on Proof of Concepts, Best Practices, Pre-build static test beds etc.
    please contact us at hyperlab@cisco:disqus .com and I can explain a bit more. It might not be everything you are looking for but still I’m confident that it can solve many of your test requirements.

    best regards,

    Micha van der stoop
    BDM Cisco Hyperlab

Subscribe For Weekly Updates by Email

Get a Weekly Summary of Latest Articles and Posts to your Email Inbox Every Sunday

Thanks for signing up. Look for the email from MailChimp & make sure you confirm your email address. You may need to check your spam or gmail settings to be sure of receiving the email.

Note: You can unsubscribe at any time using the link at the bottom of every email.