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The “Business” of Software Defined Networking

I admit it. I’ve grown weary of the debate about whether SDN includes network programmability or whether or not SDN can only be accomplished through NfV, or the relative merits of control plane / dataplane separation. I will leave those debates to others more focused on the technology itself.  Personally, I have been more fascinated with what I see as the new business opportunities emerging around SDN.

Certainly there is a raft of opportunities for start-up companies in the controller space or in the virtualization of various networking functions. Many innovative new companies are re-examining existing network functions within the SDN paradigm; that will lead to some potentially new and useful approaches that may be cheaper/easier/faster than current designs. No doubt many customers will see value in these new ways of doing things, and everybody will benefit.

But that’s not what I find fascinating about SDN. What I am starting to see are ideas that are completely out of the box, and would likely not be thought of by typical network technologists working alone. Let me discuss a few categories of things I have seen possible with the emerging technologies.

The Network as a Compute Resource
It turns out Read More »

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Blogging Journey from Cisco Live from Cisco ONE: Intelligent Programmable Network

Cisco Live is here! It’s a great opportunity for you to discover some really exciting technology solutions at our Cisco ONE: Cisco Intelligent Programmable Network booth featuring a few of our latest innovations.

Onsite you will be able to see and ask your questions at live demos featuring applications and services developed with One Programmable Kit (onePK), Openflow and the eXtensible Network Controller. In addition, we have demos devoted to IPv6, routing, service discovery and network design simulation -- all things meant to make your network simpler and smarter.

There are also some great partner demos including our friends from SAP, Citrix, Glue Networks, Pramacom, Radware, and Starview who are showing some really cool apps that use the Cisco ONE APIs. Read More »

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OpenDaylight: Understanding the Value Propositions

April 8, 2013 at 6:03 am PST

The announcement today of OpenDaylight is big news.  Industry leading companies are partnering via Open Source to serve an emerging set of market needs:

  • Operators: want affordable real-time orchestration and operation of integrated virtual compute, application, and network.
  • Application Developers: want a single simple interface to the network.  Underlying details such as “router”, or “switch”, or “topology” can be a distraction they desire to abstract and simplify away.
  • Equipment Vendors: want a stable forum to interwork a plethora of Application interfaces with a plethora of nascent Network Device programmatic interfaces.

OpenDaylight members understand Read More »

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Infrastructure Software: SDN makes network management a first class citizen

April 7, 2013 at 9:41 am PST

Back in May 2012 Mike Fratto predicted in his blog that SDN will be “Reborn in Network Management”. There is a lot of truth to his statement. The words “software defined” in “Software Defined Networking (SDN)” inspired people to rethink the overall control plane architecture of the network making the case for infrastructure software that complements software already embedded in virtual and physical devices, (e.g., the software and protocols running in and between network elements).

We are evolving our treatment of the network.  What once was a discrete set of loosely coupled devices will now be interacted with as a system.  To get there means the network must be represented by an overall system model. Classic network management functions become an integral part of the infrastructure software, and will spawn their own management requirements. SDN makes network management a first class citizen. Effectively we’re past the time when network management was an afterthought, or when network management was an operational silo. The coming integration of network management into the larger network software domain means infrastructure managers will not only manage and operate, but also actively contribute to the overall business proposition of the IT infrastructure. Read More »

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SDM: Software Defined Manageability

April 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm PST

Much has been made of the emergence of Software Defined Networking and the programmable network.  At its core, SDN involves opening up network interfaces in order to make the network programmable and allow for the development of applications.  While some of those applications interact directly with the data plane, determining how individual packets are treated, many applications actually involve what can fundamentally be described as management functionality – automation of workflows, reaction to events, closing of control loops.   A popular example concerns orchestration, in which resources are allocated and state modified so that collectively a service is provided – in many ways resembling a reincarnation of service provisioning in a new context and under a new name.

Of course, management applications and management interfaces have been around for a long time, so what is really new and different this time?  Is SDN simply an exciting new label for a tired old concept? Does SDN obviate the need for traditional management? At the core of these questions are the concepts of programmability and manageabilityRead More »

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