Cisco to introduce “Network Defined Software” project code named “Closed Stack”.

The industry is abuzz about the ongoing transformation of the data center!   With technologies like SDN, OpenStack and so called “white box” switching, insiders have voiced their opinion that these changes spell certain trouble for status quo players like Cisco.  Cisco has enjoyed an almost monopoly like status in enterprise switching, hovering in the 61% range leaving competitors to fight over single digit table scraps.

Not be outdone, Cisco spawned and assimilated its own brand of SDN, now called Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), that has proven to be formidable in the market place.  As it turns out, ACI was just a red herring for a product Cisco calls “Network Defined Software” or NDS.

NDS is Cisco’s way of bringing the network back to where it belongs: in the hands of highly paid and over qualified Network Engineers.  While a full architectural model is beyond the scope of the article (and the authors time budget) here is a brief overview of how it works.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 9.05.23 PM

“We realized that our customers were using our products incorrectly”, said one Cisco employee on the condition that his name not be revealed.  According to Joey, we can pretty much support any-to-any connectivity and can programmatically deploy an entire network with minimal effort since around 2004.  He continued, “Developers just don’t understand networking beyond a basic hub and a few nodes.  If they had read a book or two, they could have placed a nice wrapper around any commodity scripting environment, like Expect and gotten similar results.  But hey, we’ll take their money. ”  Joey continued stating how existing technologies like VLAN tunneling (QinQ), coupled with MPLS VPLS/EoMPLS could support ten of thousands of nodes in a multi-tenant environment with minimal effort.

The internal code name for Cisco’s NDS is named “Closed Stack”, presumably a bit of snark directed at another hot technology.  It will be interesting to see how many customers sign on to NDS.  Only time will tell.  Read more here.


Network Engineer interested in many areas including switches/routers/firewalls, SAN, and virtualization. I am currently employed by Cisco Systems. While I like to think that everything I write is well reasoned and insightful, the opinions expressed are solely mine and do not represent my employer.

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Charles Stizza

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