CISCO - Cloud Native

One of the quiet yet profound advances of the past decade or so has been cloud computing. Cloud computing allowed customers to treat computing as a commodity, like water or power. From an end user’s perspective, flexible, ubiquitous computing was suddenly available on command: Need to expand your services from 40 customers to 4,000? No problem, simply call CISCO.

Like most things in the tech world, the sleek interface belies extraordinary complexity. The Cloud-Native application team -- Baskin School of Engineering students Anthony Campos, Barbara Moretto, Gavin Moy, Katelyn Stone, Sabrina Tsui, Kevin Velasquez ( sponsored by CISCO’s Jan Medved and Nikos Bregiannis) -- were chosen to make the process even more streamlined and accessible.

“We were working on two projects,” said Anthony Campos. “One was the Osseus Development tool, which is a web application that helps build out a starting point for applications that developers are trying to create. The other is a plug-in called the Border Gateway Protocol application. The purpose of that plug-in is to port a kind of legacy protocol that does the routing between networks over a border gateway.”

Their project automated two aspects of cloud-native applications: building cloud applications from a template and providing external communication into an existing virtual cluster. The Osseus tool provides a user interface for CISCO developers to generate template code, so they can avoid inconsistencies that would arise manually writing code. This creates a smoother, more predictable and rapidly upgradable end product, making what used to be a labor intensive process (which includes not just writing the code but debugging afterwards).

The second piece of automation they created was the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) which automatically advertises the availability of resources (i.e. available subnets) within a cluster, allowing external users to access internal resources shared by BGP. Both projects involved late nights and intense moments of cooperation and decision making.

The team divided itself in two for the two components and then further subdivided the labor between them. To keep the project on track, they used a type of project management style called AGILE which prioritizes iteration and SCRUM sprints to keep coordinated.

“The SCRUM process was a really good way to organize thoughts and goals and communicate and track progress,” said Barbara Moretto. “It’s a really good tool individually or as a team.”

The student team said that BGP protocol was one of the most challenging aspects of the program. “One of the best moments we had was when we got the gateway working,” said Gavin Moy. “After ten months of coding and a final stretch where we spent days debugging what turned out to be some missing quotation marks and then we got a call from CISCO and they said hey you got the gateway working!”

That was a great day, agreed Sabrina Tsui. “Gavin walked in one day and said we got it working… and we got a call from CISCO and they said ‘hey you did it perfectly’ and we were like thank the Lord! They put up a meme of popping champagne bottles! This is why we like what we do, those little moments when you get something right.”

“We had a great time working with the students,” said CISCO engineer Ian Wells (who worked with a different group). “It was excellent watching their presentations and seeing how they self-organized and how much initiative they had, and how they got up and ran with it, with their own development scrums and how they leaned on us for input. It was a great experience.”

“We were students before [at UC Santa Cruz] and part of the first [CISCO] team, and we’ve been wanting to get more involved.” says CISCO engineer Julian Dahan, who graduated in 2012. “I think the projects are great, lots of ways to implement and innovate… the spirit of these projects is still really strong…the idea of getting a corporate experience while you’re in school helped us immensely in getting jobs and being ready for the workforce.”