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SDN in the Enterprise: aligning with business needs part 2

August 14, 2013 at 8:54 am PST

“I confess that in 1901, I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years . . . Ever since, I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions.” — Wilbur Wright, 1908

In SDN in the Enterprise: aligning with business needs I highlighted one of what some people are claiming to be the most disruptive technologies in the networking space in recent memory: Software Defined Networking (SDN), or what I like to call the continuation of the abstraction of everything. Today we’ll explore some of the ways I believe SDN will and will not change networking.

Trying to predict the future in any endeavor is fraught with danger, or at least substantial risk of embarrassment. Winston Churchill once said, “I always avoid prophesying beforehand because it is much better to prophesy after the event has already taken place,” and he was on to something. Technology predictions, in particular, seem to have a funny way of getting away from even the most intelligent and business-savvy among us. Hit the target, and you look like a genius. Miss it, and if you have a high enough profile people will remember it forever. Worse than that, however, is that in business if you miss the target you leave money on the table, or in the worst cases sink the company. Read More »

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Why I Chose the Open Source Model I did for OpenDaylight

Now that OpenDaylight has arrived, it’s time to explain why I made the Open Source choices eventually embraced by its Founders and the community at large.  One doesn’t often see such leaders as Cisco, IBM, Intel, HP, Juniper, RedHat, VMWare, NEC, Microsoft and others agree, share and collaborate on such key technologies, let alone the latter engaging in a Linux Foundation based community (some thought hell will freeze over before that would ever happen, though it got pretty cold at times last Spring).

For those of you not familiar with OpenDaylight (see “Meet Me On The Equinox”, not a homage to Death Cab for Cutie or my Transylvanian homeland), IBM and Cisco have actually started this with an amazing set of partners, nearly that ephemeral Equinox this year (~11am, March 20th) though we couldn’t quite brag about it until all our partners saw the daylight, which by now, we’re hoping everyone does.  It was hard not to talk about all this as we saw those half baked, speculative stories before the Equinox – amazing how information flew, distorted as it were, but it did; I wish source code would be that “rapid”, we’d all be so much better for it…

The Open Source model for OpenDaylight is simple, it has only two parts: the community is hosted in the Linux Foundation and the license is Eclipse.  The details are neatly captured in a white paper we wrote and published in the Linux Foundation.  Dan Frye, my friend and fellow counterpart at IBM and I came up with the main points after two short meetings.  It would have been one, but when you work for such giants as our parent companies and soon to be OpenDaylight partners, one has to spend a little more time getting everyone to see the daylight.  It boils down to two things, which I am convinced are the quintessential elements of any successful open source project.

1) Community.  Why?  Because it trumps everything: code, money and everything else.  A poor community with great code equals failure (plenty of examples of that).  A great community with poor (or any) code equals success (plenty of examples of that too).  Why? Because open source equals collaboration, of the highest kind: I share with you, and you with me, whatever I have, I contribute my time, my energy, my intellectual property, my reputation, etc.. And ultimately it becomes “ours”.  And the next generation’s.  Open Source is not a technology; it’s a development model.  With more than 10 million open source developers world wide, it happens to be based on collaboration on a scale and diversity that humanity has never experienced before.  Just think about what made this possible and the role some of the OpenDaylight partners have already played in it since the dawn of the Internet.  Dan Frye and I agreed that the Linux Kernel community is the best in the world and so we picked the closest thing to it to model and support ours, the Linux Foundation.

2) Fragmentation, or anti-fragmentation, actually.  Why?  The biggest challenge of any open source project is how to avoid fragmentation (the opposite of collaboration).  Just ask Andy Rubin and the Android guys what they fear the most.  Just ask any open source project’s contributors, copyright holders, or high priests, how much they appreciate an open source parasite that won’t give back.  Though we would have liked to go deeper, we settled on Eclipse, largely because of the actual language and technology we dealt with in the OpenDaylight Controller: most, if not all the initial code is Java, and though some are worried about that, I’m sure Jim Gosling is proud (btw, I’m not sure the Controller has to stay that way, I actually agree with Amin Vahdat), but we had to start somewhere.  Plus having a more friendly language NB (northbound, as in the applications run on top of the Controller) is such a cool thing, we think that the #1 open source (Eclipse) and the #1 commercial (Microsoft) IDE’s are going to be very good to it, so why not?  There are more reasons that pointed in the Eclipse direction, and other reasons for such wonderful alternatives (as APL or MPL, perhaps the subject of another post, some day).  But when it comes to understanding the virtues of them all, no one understands them better than the amazing founders of these license models, most of them from IBM, of course (I wish they did that when I was there).

What happened between the Equinox and Solstice is a fascinating saga within the OpenDaylight community which I think played its course in the spirit of total and complete openness, inclusion, diversity, respect of the individual and the community, and most of all, that code rules – we do believe in running code and community consensus.  I tip my hat to all my fellow colleagues that learned these two things along the way, the enormous talent at the Eclipse and Linux Foundation that helped us launch, and even the analysts who tried (and did incredibly well at times) to speculate the secret reasons why these partners came up with the model we did: there is no secret at all, my friends, we’re simply creating a community that is truly open, diverse, inclusive, and never fragmented.  Just like a big, happy family.  Welcome to OpenDaylight, we hope you’ll stay!

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SDN 101: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Do It

Despite all the buzz about software-defined networking (SDN), many organizations don’t yet have a clear idea of how it will benefit them. In this blog, I’ll tackle the what and why of SDN, and explain the different approaches you can consider.

What: A Disruptive Approach to Network Control

For the last quarter century, network devices have performed two types of processing:

  • The data plane looks at a routing table to decide where to forward packets. This processing takes place in dedicated hardware ASICs.
  • The control plane takes care of everything else, such as spanning tree, AAA, exporting NetFlow statistics, SNMP, and more. The control plane is implemented in software, and you can think of it as the brains of the network element.

So, if your network includes 200, 2000, or 20,000 network devices, that means you’re managing 200, 2000, or 20,000 control planes and keeping all of them up to date. Read More »

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SDN in the Enterprise: aligning with business needs

July 31, 2013 at 8:00 am PST

There is always a well-known solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong. -- H.L. Mencken

As a long-time practitioner of the art of beating computers and communications systems into submission, I am as enamored with the latest gee-wiz technology trends and tools as the next self-respecting geek. I’m also not completely above the allure of the herd-mentality; all for one and all for the new tech. As an IT Director looking at the business side of the house, however, and having to translate all of the latest trends into actionable business intelligence and strategy, I am far less quick to jump on the latest bandwagon. Sometimes what my cohort are talking about, and what I find fascinating personally, isn’t what the business needs. Often, it’s not even close.

It can be a challenging thing, trying to match potential technology solutions to existing or future business problems. It can be even more challenging separating the latest trends and market buzz-word bingo, from the actual solutions that will help my company move forward. Finding those solutions can sometimes seem like a search through the proverbial haystack.

Read More »

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Securing the Open Network Environment

With all of the focus on Software Defined Networking, open networking, API’s, you name it, I do often wonder how, with all of this ‘openness’, does an Enterprise keep their network secure? After years of security teams working  tirelessly to protect their business critical infrastructure does this paradigm shift where anyone can write an application to control, get the intelligence from, and manipulate the network become the reason for many a sleepless night for security experts around the world? And on the other hand, can this new way to manage the network help in threat detection and prevention?

If you, like me, are wondering the same thing, I invite you to register here for the 5th session of the Cisco Open Network Environment Webcast Series titled “Securing the Open Network Environment” broadcasting on July 30th at 9 a.m. PST.

Jon Oltsik, ESG, Security, Mike Nielsen, Bret Hartman, ONE, SDN

Join Mike Nielsen and Bret Hartman from Cisco as well as Jon Oltsik from Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) for a great discussion featuring live Q&A throughout the session.

If you have missed any of our previous sessions featuring introductions to OpenFlow, OpenStack, Cisco’s onePK, and Using Open Source in Networked Environments, please visit www.cisco.com/go/onewebcasts.

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