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Open Networking Summit, Day 2

April 18, 2012 at 9:19 am PST

So, the theme for the day was “Less Unicorns, More Ponies”

I have to admit, I could not attend some of the afternoon sessions--there is a define downside to going to a conference with your boss.

Anyway, we heard from a number of folks (a lot of SPs and academics) that are doing the hard work of trying to do useful real-world things with OpenFlow and SDN.  There were a fair number of successes but also a good number of struggles.  Kudos to the ONS folks for trying to present a balanced view as opposed to hosting a two-day OpenFlow pep rally.  So, sadly, the shine is starting to come off the SDN unicorn, but in the long run, this what needs to happen for the long term health of SDN.

Hands down, my favorite session was Igor Gashinsky from Yahoo! for a number of reasons: 1) it was darn entertaining, 2) I think hyperscale data centers present some the most interesting and demanding environments right now, 3) the use case was interesting, and 4) frankly, it allows me to make a point. :)

It seems that much of the conversation around SDN centers on the southbound conversation--the ability to program the hardware.  While that is certainly useful and interesting, at least as interesting and important is the northbound conversation--the ability to extract interesting information from the infrastructure and make it available to the controllers, applications, tools, etc.  In Igor’s case, he talked about being able to extract info directly out of the switching hardware to facilitate troubleshooting--not an inconsequential task when you have 20K servers and 400K VMs.  Its a good use case but I also think its just scratching at the surface.

I believe its an interesting topic and one of the things that David Ward will dig into a bit further during his session this afternoon.

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More Musings on SDN and OpenFlow

April 16, 2012 at 10:38 am PST

Just in time for the Open Networking Summit, we are ready to tease a bit more of what we are doing on the Software Defined Networking front. David Ward has posted some really intriguing musings on SDN.  Its a really good read and it should give you some hints on our thinking not the topic.  If you don’t know David, he is über smart and quite entertaining--he is also the current chair of the Technical Advisory group at ONF, so he knows of what he speaks.

For those of you at ONS this week, David will be speaking on a panel on Wednesday @ 2pm.

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Cisco and OpenFlow

October 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm PST

With acolytes of open networking flocking to the Open Networking Summit this week, folks have been pinging me on what Cisco has been doing on this front recently.  So, if we look at open networking in general, we were pleased to have made some significant contributions to the Diablo release of OpenStack--for more details on that, check out this post by my cohort, James Urquhart.

On the OpenFlow front, I went to the source--our lead smart guy on our OpenFlow efforts--David Meyer.  David is a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco Systems, where he works on future directions for Internet technologies such as OpenFlow and Software Defined Networking.

Omar Sultan:  So, David, what is new with Cisco and OpenFlow since we joined in the Open Networking Foundation earlier this year?
David Meyer: Well, probably the most notable news is that we have announced that we will be providing OpenFlow support on our Nexus switches.

OS: Wow--that will surprise a lot of people--folks are gong to wonder why we would want to do this--its counter-intuitive…
DM: Not really--Cisco had always embraced disruption--we don’t always get it right on the first shot, but we usually get it in the end.  Take server virtualization as an example--while we may not have been first off the line, we now have the broadest and strongest portfolio of virtualization networking technologies in the market.  Critics only saw the short-term impact to our switching revenue (less ports sold) but we saw the transformational value of virtualization. We see SDN in a similar light--as the next evolution of networking and we see OF as an excellent mechanism to drive maturation of both the technology and the underlying thinking.

OS: Do I sense a bit of hedging about OpenFlow in its current state in that last response?
DM: Well, we believe that the OpenFlow specification needs to be fleshed out a bit more before its truly production ready--that’s why I am here.


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OpenFlow: “Pulling networking into the application stack”

April 18, 2011 at 11:14 am PST

Recently, we announced our participation in the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).  As you may know, ONF is focused on defining a software interface enabling the programming of how packets are forwarded through a switched network as defined in the OpenFlow Switch Specification. Beyond this, ONF is also focused on developing an abstracted software interface that management tools can access.  At the end of the day, ONF is looking to advance OpenFlow and and make it easier for customers to fine-tune, manage and adapt their networks.  In addition to Cisco, the organization includes Broadcom, Brocade, Ciena, Citrix, Dell, Ericsson, Force10, HP, IBM, Juniper, Marvell, NEC, Netgear, Verizon, and VMware.

I sat down with Paul McNab, VP/CTO of the Data Center Switching and Services Group, who is leading this effort at Cisco, to get some answers on what this all means.

Omar Sultan: Paul, many industry pundits did not expect us to do this and their reactions were kinda entertaining. So, why did Cisco decide to do this?

Read More »

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Back to the future: the Open Networking Foundation

Along with several key industry players we announced the formation of and participation in ONF, the Open Networking Foundation with the purpose of promoting a new approach to networking, called software defined networking, open standards based of course, and implicitly open source since all compute loads (or clouds) need and want both, as we are continuously reminded.

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