Earlier this month, I attended the first ever summit on OpenDaylight (ODL) project in Santa Clara, CA. This near sold out event was largely successful by many standards. It brought together a large number of great minds to the table to solve some of the toughest challenges the networking industry is facing around Software-defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV). The group announced a first major step forward with the first open source software release called Hydrogen. The bulk of the credit goes to 154 contributors from Cisco, IBM, Ericsson, Red Hat, Citrix and others who wrote over a million lines of code in past ten months to make this happen.
The two-day summit was packed with a variety of sessions that were geared towards a diverse set of audience. The sessions varied from general topics to specific topics such as relevance of Open source software, NFV, LISP, standards, discussions on North and South bound APIs, developer tutorials for building applications & tool chain, using OpenStack with ODL, analytics, test automation, and a true story of SDN in production environment.
Of all these topics, here are the three important themes that stood out to me -
1. The importance of an Open Source, community initiative for SDN
The concept of Open Source software has been around since decades. It is fast catching up in the non-traditional realms of computer networking. For some, the concept of open source equates to free software. While this is partially true, I strongly believe that open=free is a misnomer. I have started to realize that open source and further, the collaborative initiatives like ODL is far beyond the notion of freeness. In my view, the most important thing that such an initiative does is to gather right minds to bring out bright ideas. The collective wisdom that emanates from such a collaborative initiative helps vendors develop a cohesive set of products that speaks a common language, and perhaps share certain fundamental design constructs to aid interoperability. At the same time, I believe that this collaboration helps to compress the infinite ways vendors can built products to a bounded, agreed upon set of behaviors and interfaces. Customers are real beneficiaries of such an open initiative due to this standardization and better product interoperability. As Vijay Pandey from IBM aptly said in one of his presentations, open source initiatives like ODL “promote innovation and raise the value bar.”
2. What and how much to Standardize (North and South bound APIs)
In the summit, there were several interesting debates on what to standardize and how much. With regards to how much, I am with Guru Parulkar’s mantra to “standardize as little as possible.”
One of the core capabilities that SDN brings to the table is the notion around exposing interfaces from control plane to the infrastructure layer (South Bound APIs or SBI) and to the application/business layer (North bound APIs or NBI). We talked about using common approach for design constructs above, and the APIs are central to the constructs. However, if we (are somehow able to) standardize every hook into the system, we are forcing the industry to take a “single” approach to solve the underlying problems. Additionally, I believe that such an approach will not only go against the very notion of openness, but will also hinder innovation and ability to provide unique experiences.
If we talk about SBI, we rightly need some standardized ways to abstract some of the infrastructure complexities. I learnt that ODL will include support for SDN open standards such as OpenFlow, VxLAN, PCEP etc. Similar to SBI, can we standardize the NBI’s as well?
SunGard AS has more than 9000 enterprise customers who count on our cloud services and managed services when disaster strikes. Lately, we’ve seen that the “Internet of Everything” is changing customer expectations. Our customers want new types of cloud services—and they want them sooner. They’re also asking to provision and control the services on their own. To keep delivering new products and services, we need a network that’s more flexible, intelligent, secure, and agile than ever before.
Our strategy for the future is to create a platform for service agility by enabling network programming. This is a radical change for our business and our customers. Not having to wait for engineers to program the network will help us bring new services to market sooner. Network programmability will also make it possible to offer new self-service options our customers are requesting, like bandwidth calendaring and service on demand. Read More »
If you were to believe the industry press, you could easily be forgiven for thinking that many companies across the world were rolling software defined networking (SDN) technologies into their networks today. I’m part of Cisco’s Services team and my colleagues across the world are the experts in helping you all design and deploy networks. If there is a large or complex leading (or bleeding!) edge network out there being designed, you can place a safe bet that someone from the Cisco Services team is involved helping our customers achieve their targets. If you’re involved in deploying any type of high technology equipment, you’ll appreciate that there is a world of difference between selling, demoing, and actually making it all work in your environment when it comes to new technology. Our team are in the latter camp.
So what are our consultants telling me about SDN in the real world? Excluding a few notable high profile cases (usually involving hyper-scale data centers) they are not seeing -- as yet, to be honest -- many early deployments. However they are seeing a growing number of customers interest in learning about and evaluating SDN related technologies -- including Cisco ONE, NFV and in particular Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). And they are providing some early feedback on the use cases of SDN that customers are most interested in. They are all clear, however, on this point: this is the time to learn what SDN and Cisco ONE can do for your network in the future.
So how do you get started in SDN? Let me outline 5 key steps to help you get started. I’ll also point you to a technical white paper written by Mitch Mitchiner and Reema Prasad, two of our Customer Solutions Architects in Cisco Services, two of our experts responsible for making all of this work for you, your team and your business. I also recommend you check out the video link I’ve provided, for an excellent live demo of Cisco ONE technology, first presented at Cisco Live last year. This video gives a live demo of latency-based routing, one of the use cases described in Mitch and Reema’s paper.
Why should you put a virtualized content delivery network (CDN) in the cloud?
This is not just a theoretical question. It has come from our customers. At our recent Cisco Live event in Milan, we demonstrated how our continued CDN technical leadership can answer this question.
First, some history, as you can’t just begin with the cloud.
At Cisco, we’ve been working hard over the years to evolve our Videoscape Distribution Suite (VDS) platform. From its roots in hardware-based appliances, to software applications powered by our data center hardware, and more recently to virtual machine implementations which can be powered by our own or third party hardware. Each technological advance to our VDS platform has netted gains for our customers in their CDN deployments; whether through more flexible deployment from greater hardware independence, faster time-to-market implementing VDS software applications, or reduced total cost of ownership thanks to server-based virtualization that optimizes footprint and power/cooling requirements.
Would you jump on a horse without consulting someone else who is at least somewhat familiar with horses? You know, like a cowgirl or boy?
At least not if you’re interested in staying in the saddle versus tumbling to the never-soft earth.
While Cisco IT doesn’t have any expertise in horseback riding (I mean, you are welcome to ask me for a couple of pointers, but I’m not promising results), we DO have expertise in a variety of challenges IT departments face on a regular basis.
Last week, we hosted a live Inside Cisco IT Webinar on our Security Journey with two of our own Cisco IT Security Experts. If you missed it, you should definitely give the recording a gander.