Show 120 – The API Layer Cake with Dave Ward and Lauren Cooney of Cisco – Sponsored

Dave Ward, CTO & Chief Architect of the Service Provider Division at Cisco and Lauren Cooney, Senior Director of Software Market Strategy at Cisco join Packet Pushers hosts Greg Ferro and Ethan Banks for a discussion about software defined networking and the evolution of onePK & APIs.

Not to put too fine a point on it, we consider this to be an important show. A lot of what Dave and Lauren discuss on this program is future-thinking stuff, but with real meat on the bones. Dave isn’t just dreaming; he’s doing. Dave is right down in the guts of API development and IETF standards formation. He’s got a very good idea of where software defined networking should be taking the networking industry and how APIs can get us there.

What We Discuss

  • Cisco onePK – a software development toolkit providing a common data model, common object model, and common API across Cisco platforms running IOS, IOS-XR, and NX-OS.
  • OnePK is a foundation technology providing an abstraction layer. It enables programmatic interfaces.
  • The notion of a “network programming interface”.
  • How code you’ve written interacts with onePK agents, and ultimately with the end device.
  • How interaction with legacy SNMP and onePK is different.
  • What a “full duplex” interface is in the context of network programmability, and why it’s really, really important.
  • It’s not just about logs & events when it comes to our devices telling us things. It’s also about topology discovery, device capabilities, state, etc.
  • Where are we at with standardization of APIs? That’s going to drive SDN & network programmability further along if there’s industry agreement of baseline functionality.
  • IETF is working on IRS: Interfaces to the Routing System.
  • Why OpenFlow is limiting in the long-term vision of network programmability.
  • The CLI isn’t the magic. Getting the job done quickly and correctly is.
  • Why building an ecosystem around apps that can program the network is key.
  • The five modules Dave is working on to enable third parties to integrate with a variety of underlying network services.
  • The API layer cake: published APIs at the device, virtualization, and orchestration layers.
  • An emerging open ecosystem that drives API development.


  • “Things don’t begin and end with OpenFlow by any stretch of the imagination.” – Dave Ward
  • “The whole goal is not just basic connectivity – it’s engineered connectivity.” – Dave Ward
  • “IT professionals need to be able to interact in a heterogeneous network in a standardized way and issue one command across the network to get something done.” – Dave Ward


Ethan Banks
Ethan Banks, CCIE #20655, has been managing networks for higher ed, government, financials and high tech since 1995. Ethan co-hosts the Packet Pushers Podcast, which has seen over 3M downloads and reaches over 10K listeners. With whatever time is left, Ethan writes for fun & profit, studies for certifications, and enjoys science fiction. @ecbanks
Ethan Banks
Ethan Banks
  • joel spencer

    this was an excellent show. i know that it was “cisco” sponsored. but as juniper are a “co-author” of the “Interface to the Routing System” RFC maybe they would also like to give their opinions on the subject?

  • joel spencer

    as a further comment, we are in the “fledgling” stages of building new data centre networks that incorporate cisco, juniper, f5 and vmware hardware and software. hence, we are taking a rather broad view of our northbound and southbound interfaces into the system…

  • Sanjeev Wije

    Hello Ethan – sounds like a great show but I do not see the play/download icons. Am I missing it in one of the links? Thanks – Sanjeev.

    • Ethan Banks

      Check again, Sanjeev. We had an issue with CloudFlare that was impacting page loads, but disabled the feature that was causing it.