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SDN blogs: Cloud controllers; How does Cisco ACI work?

This week's SDN bloggers take a look at controller use cases and the cloud, Cisco ACI, the history of load balancing, and how to deal with schema changes.

We rounded up the best of this week's SDN blogs, which include a look at Cisco ACI, how to deal with schema changes, cloud orchestration and cloud controller use cases, and a history of load balancing. 

How does Cisco ACI really work?

In a recent entry to to his Ethereal Mind blog, Greg Ferro  mused about how exactly Cisco ACI operates. Ferro writes that he's often struck by how well ACI uses a myriad of networking technologies, and that he sees ACI as a "Swiss watch" full of moving parts. He also notes that there is no controller dependency, and this design decision is similar to the way autonomous networks operate. However, at the end of the day, despite how fascinating ACI is, tools from other vendors are simpler and to use and understand, Ferro says.

Check out Ferro's full post, exploring the intricacies of Cisco ACI.

Schema changes: a crash course

Matt Oswalt took to his Keeping it Classless site to blog about dealing with schema changes. A schema, he explains, is essentially a common understanding of where to expect certain types of data in software. Oswalt wonders, though, what happens when schema is changed without others involved knowing about it?

Oswalt writes about schema enforcement through communication, and schema enforcement through code. At the end of the day, it's critical to "transmit strictly" and "receive loosely," he says, with the idea being that ensuring schemas send in applications or scripts adhere as closely as possible to a chosen standard. Networking professionals tend to be spoiled in this sense, he says in closing, but as more people enter into a space where software development meets networking, it’s good to ruminate on core programming concepts.

Take a look at Oswalt's post looking at schema changes and how to deal with them.

Cloud orchestration and controller use cases

On his IpSpace blog, author Ivan Pepelnjak looks at cloud orchestration as an "ideal" use case for controllers. Controller-based architectures can reach enormous scale, he writes. Pepelenjak looks at the orchestration system in IP-aware IaaS cloud architectures as it relates to an overlay virtual networking implementation, while also exploring other implementations that use more "convoluted" approaches, like the NSX controller for OpenStack or Cisco Nexus 1000V.

Pepelnjak includes interesting tidbits regarding popular commercial products like NSX controllers and Cisco Nexus virtual switches. He also notes that it's crucial to understand the fundamental architectural differences between Cisco and VMware approaches to network virtualization.

Read all of Pepelnjak's post on controller use cases and cloud orchestration.

Load balancing: a visual history

On the Packet Pushers blog site, author Steven Iveson breaks down the product history of the load balancing and application delivery field, dating all the way back to 1895. Iveson points out observations, like a large amount of companies either being founded or going public in the late 90s, while Cisco and Citrix tend to dominate the field. Acquisitions were prevalent in the mid- to late-2000s, while product withdrawals also took place in the late 2000s.

Check out Iveson's infographic on the history of load balancing.

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