Hopeful with a Dash of Skepticism: Cisco 9800 Wireless Controllers

Only a few years ago, Cisco tried their hand at a converged access wireless platform with, among other devices, the Cisco 5760 Wireless LAN Controller. To this day, I have nightmares about that box. It wasn’t fully functional, and it had huge code issues. Today, in spite of AireOS being a stable, highly functional, and well-known WLC platform, Cisco is trying it again with a range of WLCs in the 9300 and 9800 series.

However, will this brave attempt prove to have the same fate as the 5760?

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Bridging the Gap Between the Classroom and Real-World IT

This week I taught my last class as a part-time adjunct instructor at a community college. I’ve been there for six years – 12 consecutive semesters. Each term, alongside the actual curriculum, I incorporated my work experiences and lessons learned about the reality of working in IT. Making the class meaningful from a real-world perspective was very important to me.

For my very last class, I chose not to cover anything in the textbook or any of the bullets on the syllabus. Instead, I introduced my students to systems and network automation. What may seem old news to you and me was brand-new to my class, and I don’t believe this is the exception.

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Networking is Finally Catching Up

Servers, especially Linux servers, have been managed programmatically for years. Today, it goes almost without saying that a decent IT department is running Chef, Ansible, or some other tool to manage their servers as pools of resources.

What strikes me as odd is that this didn’t catch on in the network side of the house. Of course, there are always exceptions. A look at networking forums from years ago will showcase a few ambitious engineers arguing over using Expect or Perl scripts to manage their switches, but this was the exception in the networking industry, not the norm.

At Networking Field Day 17, several vendors that have long embraced network programmability turned their gaze from the data center to enterprise networking, and it seems as if networking may be finally ready to catch up to what we’ve been doing with servers for decades.

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