Before my kids developed into the smelly grunting teenagers that they are today they loved Lego™. It offered limitless possibilities with no rules on how the bricks should be arranged or the exact shape of the star-fighter, or house, or whatever their imagination dreamt up. With every birthday a new assortment of colored bricks would arrive and the first thing that was built was whatever was pictured on the box, after that the parts were separated, scattered and then recombined into another world of infinite possibilities. You could build whatever you wanted, not what the toy designer thought you wanted. The only disappointment came when a new creation couldn’t be completed as there was one vital part missing, usually because the dog had eaten it. The missing part usually reappeared later but not in a useable condition!
If only networks could be built the same way. We seem to have got bound up in a dizzying array of complex protocols and technologies that have been designed to solve relatively simple problems. Whatever happened to plug-and-play? The geeks need to rediscover Lego and become inspired again.
The Effortless Network is about making campus networks fit the environment that they are being deployed into, making things simpler and more flexible by allowing network managers to build networks that are only limited by their imaginations. By using Ethernet as the connection medium within a switch stack we allow far greater deployment flexibility. A “stack” can actually be distributed across multiple wiring closets (or racks in a data center) with the stacking protocols taking care of ensuring that the connections are secure, resilient and efficient. And because the distributed stack is a single management entity configuration changes, software deployment and failure recovery are greatly simplified. And the best part is that this is just the beginning, there is so much more to come in 2013 and beyond.
So maybe there is another way, you don’t have to build the network the way the geeks intended; with the right building blocks the possibilities are endless.