By the Blouin News Technology staff

Cisco at center of cyber feud and SDN

by in Enterprise Tech.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The information technology world has been changing with the onset of cloud computing and virtualization as internet-based services and new network software and hardware affect the structures of data centers. While data centers and physical hardware were once thought to be the only way computer-based activity could occur, the virtualization movement of today is altering how networks are structured, and how network communication occurs. This change in IT structure could sooner or later affect nearly all networks as we know them, and software-defined networking is at the forefront of this opportunity.


Source: eMarketer, Miaozhen Systems

Source: eMarketer, Miaozhen Systems

Software-defined networking — the term used to describe a network control plane that is physically separate from the forwarding plane inside the network, and can control multiple devices — is important for the future of technology is because its structure redefines the way nearly all networking can work, and therefore the backbone of computing. Networking giants like Cisco and VMware are the ones leading the pack when it comes to this new virtualization and the new IT. Cisco has recently reiterated its commitment to the new world of IT, and reaffirmed its move towards software-defined networking.

John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, stated last week at the company’s conference:

You’re going to see a brutal, brutal consolidation of the IT industry. Many other industries will also consolidate, and enterprises will have to transform themselves and adopt end-to-end architectures like Cisco’s to stay competitive. The company is directly taking on SDN in the form of so-called “white box” networking hardware with an overlay of software such as the OpenFlow open-source protocol or VMware’s NSX . . . Traditional, standalone networking equipment will be sidelined.

But the company is also at the center of a feud involving its technologically-forward networking products. A Chinese state media outlet has said that Cisco is complicit with the U.S. in cyber-spying on Chinese user activity. The New York Times quotes the China Youth Daily:

[Cisco] carries on intimately with the U.S. government and military, exploiting its market advantage in the Chinese information networks, playing a disgraceful role and becoming an important weapon in the U.S. exploiting its power over the Internet.

Networking companies themselves are often the ones pegged with claims of being complicit with cyber-spying as their products are the ones used as the spines of government data activity. China-based Huawei has been a focus of U.S.-based claims that the company is in cahoots with the Chinese government to spy on American activity. The nature of how these networking giants have constructed the basic ways in which computing works makes them seeming culprits for espionage. And as the IT world and networking architectures change to become more virtual, these claims are likely to get more severe.