& cplSiteName &

Defining SDN & NFV

Ray Le Maistre
1/17/2014
0%
100%

It's been nearly three years since software-defined networking (SDN) was first referenced at Light Reading and nearly 15 months since network functions virtualization (NFV) arrived on the scene. (See Big Switch Raises $13.75M and Tier 1 Carriers Tackle Telco SDN.)

The pace of development in both SDN and NFV has been astonishing when compared with the usual pace of the telecom sector so, not surprisingly, everyone wants a piece of the action and to be associated with the hottest technology trends in town.

That also means it can be easy to lose sight of what these developments are about, especially as the terms get added to just about every public statement made in the communications market. ("We have SDN-enabled our parking lot…" and "Our hot beverage facilities have been greatly enhanced by NFV" are just two examples I am waiting eagerly to read.)

So here are two quick definitions that, from now on, we will reference when writing about these critical topics. The SDN definition comes from the very able and experienced team at Heavy Reading (thanks folks) and the NFV definition from the first white paper published by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) Industry Specifications Group (ISG) that is at the heart of NFV developments.

SDN (software-defined networking)
SDN is an architectural concept that encompasses the programmability of multiple network layers -- including management, network services, control, forwarding and transport planes -- to optimize the use of network resources, promote interoperability across suppliers and network layers, increase network agility, unleash service innovation, accelerate service time-to-market, extract business intelligence and ultimately enable dynamic, service-driven virtual networks. – Heavy Reading

NFV (network functions virtualization)
NFV aims to... leverage standard IT virtualisation technology to consolidate many network equipment types onto industry standard high volume servers, switches and storage, which could be located in Datacentres, Network Nodes and in the end user premises... [NFV] is applicable to any data plane packet processing and control plane function in fixed and mobile network infrastructures. – NFV ISG (ETSI)

You can be sure we will be linking back to these definitions regularly in 2014 as the noise around SDN and NFV gets even louder.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

(18)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Eddie_
50%
50%
Eddie_,
User Rank: Blogger
1/24/2014 | 4:00:15 AM
Re: my favourite SDN definition
wildcard22,

 

today's leading article from Carol is a perfect fit for our discussion, I think. In my opinion it shows a multifaceted picture of the term 'open' and it underlines it's importance for a definition of SDN. Therefore your definition is a good approach, anthough Carol's article claims much more openness, e.g. torards North, East/West. 

Eddie
t.bogataj
50%
50%
t.bogataj,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/24/2014 | 2:25:57 AM
Re: my favourite SDN definition
wildcard22,

I agree with your remarks. Regarding open interfaces, SBI is still the easiest challenge, regardless of whether it is OF or any other standard (and/or well-adopted) interface. All other interfaces (north-/east-/westbound) depend on applications and use cases and will hardly get universally standardised.

Let's wait and see what ONF NBI WG comes up with... But I remain sceptical that anyone is able to find a common denominator.

T.
wildcard22
100%
0%
wildcard22,
User Rank: Moderator
1/23/2014 | 4:26:18 PM
Re: my favourite SDN definition
T,

This defintion is close 

SDN focuses on four key features:
• Separation of the control plane from the data plane
• A centralized controller and view of the network
• Open interfaces between the devices in the control plane (controllers) and those in the data plane
• Programmability of the network by external applications

But a couple of issues:

1) Instead of "centralized" controller, we have consistently said "logically-centralized". In other words, the controllers are actually distributed, but they give the appearence of being 'one', so that applications can be written on top, as though they were being written for a centralized platform.

2) Open interfaces between control and data planes is a no-brainer. But there has never  been a requirement for the interface(s) between controllers to be open (i.e standardized). This is because, achieving point number (1) above is hard, and is critically dependent on these controller<->controller interfaces. Moverover, the needs of these interfaces to achieve (1) change, given the networking segment (enterpise, DC, WAN, etc) and the mode-of-operation (proactive, reactive, hybrid). So it is too early to "standardize" these interfaces

 

 
Eddie_
50%
50%
Eddie_,
User Rank: Blogger
1/23/2014 | 11:15:18 AM
Re: SDN is open!
Sterling,

from my perspective "interoperability across vendors and layers" is not strong enough. An Ecosystem controlled by a single vendor could also claim some (internal) interoperabilty. "Interoperability" (especially between layers) could even be used as an argument for proprietary solutions.

Eddie

  
sterlingperrin
50%
50%
sterlingperrin,
User Rank: Lightning
1/23/2014 | 9:19:32 AM
Re: SDN is open!
Eduard0,

Good point about the requirement for openness. This is a recurring theme in my operator discusisons as well. In the HR definition, the wording about "interoperability across vendors and layers" is meant to address the opennes requirement as a proprietary technology would not achieve these needs.

Sterling

 

 
t.bogataj
50%
50%
t.bogataj,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/23/2014 | 9:01:43 AM
Re: my favourite SDN definition
Eddie,

Quoting definitions of of alliances and forums inevitably leads to their specific views (see my comment below). Citing ONF means adopting its view that SDN SBI equals OF.

I suggest reading an article by Sezer et al. in the July 2013 edition of IEEE Communications Magazine. Quoting from the article:

SDN focuses on four key features:
• Separation of the control plane from the data plane
• A centralized controller and view of the network
• Open interfaces between the devices in the control plane (controllers) and those in the data plane
• Programmability of the network by external applications

The definition can hardly get any better than that. And it also addresses your comment on 'openness'.

T.

Eddie_
50%
50%
Eddie_,
User Rank: Blogger
1/23/2014 | 7:48:28 AM
my favourite SDN definition
includes all aspects discussed:

https://www.opennetworking.org/sdn-resources/sdn-definition

 
t.bogataj
50%
50%
t.bogataj,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/23/2014 | 2:38:01 AM
Re: Defining SDN
SDN is an architectural approach that separates applications from control layer, and (a part of) control layer from the forwarding plane. SDN is much wider than particular views that some vendors or industry alliances promote. Reducing SDN to OpenFlow SBI only, and saying that the two are equal is just too narrow.

A car is a four+ wheel transportation device. Gasoline-based internal-combustion engines are just one way to implement (a part of) a car. Saying that SDN=OF is like saying that a car is a gasoline-engine based device – a definition too narrow and thus false.

Time will tell what the operators (not vendors) will recognise as SDN and what they will adopt as SDN. Maybe OF will become a de facto standard within SDN, while other SBIs will not be used for SDN. But even then OF SBI will still be just one way to implement (a part of) SDN.

T.
TomNolle
50%
50%
TomNolle,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/22/2014 | 1:09:48 PM
Re: Defining SDN
I have to disagree, Sam, unless "the industry" means something other than the broad community of buyers.  In three consecutive surveys of 277enterprises I've never found the "separation of control plane" standard as their baseline for SDN.  In the latest survey the majority did not even require that OpenFlow be a part of SDN.  I would agree with those who will say that this view is in part the result of vendor merchandizing but whatever the cause it is what it is, and so it's fair to try to come up with a definition of SDN (and NFV) that fits current usage.

Keats said something like "Beauty is truth; truth beauty.  That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know" and it's a really nice sentiment but not a particularly helpful way of addressing the real world.
Eddie_
50%
50%
Eddie_,
User Rank: Blogger
1/22/2014 | 11:05:23 AM
SDN is open!
What I am missing in the discussion about the definition of SDN s the word 'open'. From my perspective, openness is the most important architectural aspect of SDN as well as it is it's  biggest benefit. A definition of SDN should takt that aspect into account. Otherwise any proprietary approach could also sail under the flag of SDN. 

 

Eddie Beier
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
More Blogs from Shades of Ray
Börje Ekholm started his new job as the CEO of Ericsson today – here are 10 things I'd like to see in his first 10 weeks at the helm of the Swedish giant.
We're about to find out what the major players are planning to spend on their networks in 2017.
The first few months of 2017 are likely to feature significant developments around a number of key technologies and industry developments.
More than 10,000 industry professionals have now registered with the online database for the virtualization community.
With more than 650 companies and industry organizations signed up to the Testapedia database, the test and measurement sector is clearly thriving.
From The Founder
Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Documentaries
Twilight Star Authors AI Paper

1|24|17   |   00:46   |   (0) comments


Actress Kristen Stewart, best known for starring in the Twilight movies, has co-authored an academic paper on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in a short film she has directed.
LRTV Documentaries
Apple, Qualcomm Lock Horns Over Licensing

1|24|17   |   01:07   |   (0) comments


Industry giants clash over licensing fees.
LRTV Interviews
Heavy Reading: The Web-Scale View

1|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Rome, Heavy Reading's former chief analyst Patrick Donegan shared insight from the recent web-scale operators report, which featured research on how web-scale operators view the market, the best web-scale companies to ...
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Cloud Scale Networking: Automation, Virtualization & Simplification

1|18|17   |     |   (1) comment


Cisco's Sanjeev Mervana outlines the latest innovations in networking technology at CES 2017 in Las Vegas.
LRTV Custom TV
ADVA Talks Innovation & the Future of Networking

1|17|17   |     |   (0) comments


Ray Le Maistre and Christoph Glingener, CTO of ADVA Optical Networking, discuss the current state of the industry, cooperation and collaboration, open innovation and the future of networking.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Infinite Video Platform

1|17|17   |     |   (0) comments


Cisco's Infinite Video Platform allows service providers to deliver broadcast-quality video over IP networks. Infinite video supports many devices, from 4K TVs to tablets to game consoles. Join Cisco's Rajeev Raman for a brief tour and live demo.
LRTV Interviews
Masergy: Ability to Adapt Key for NFV

1|16|17   |   6:40   |   (0) comments


Speaking at Light Reading's 2020 Vision in Rome, Masergy's VP, Global Technology, Ray Watson, said agility is key to providing the mix and match NFV-based services that are driving business for the managed service provider today.
LRTV Interviews
Equinix: The Data Explosion

1|13|17   |   4:16   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's 2020 Vision in Rome, Eric Schwartz, president of EMEA, Equinix, talked about how Equinix is helping its customers manage the influx of data today, and how it's preparing for a future filled with millions of connected IoT devices.
LRTV Interviews
Heavy Reading: The Changing Data Center Landscape

1|12|17   |   6:05   |   (1) comment


At Light Reading's 2020 Vision event in Rome, Heavy Reading's Senior Analyst Roz Roseboro talks about how virtualization is impacting data center evolution and how that evolution is affecting the relationship between service providers, data center operators and public cloud providers.
LRTV Interviews
Boingo: Prepping for Millions of Devices

1|12|17   |   5:07   |   (2) comments


At Light Reading's 2020 Vision in Rome, Boingo's CTO Derek Peterson discusses how wireless operators will address the needs of low-bandwidth and high-bandwidth apps at the same time, the need for more MHz, the impact of IoT and more.
LRTV Interviews
Comcast Shows Off Gig Gateway at CES

1|11|17   |     |   (1) comment


With its largest presence at CES in years, Comcast took the wraps off its long-awaited gigabit gateway and a new platform for managing the home WiFi network. Light Reading Senior Editor Mari Silbey sat down with EVP Chris Satchell to discuss the latest Comcast advance, and met with VP of Product Strategy and Development Andrea Peiro to walk through a demo of the ...
LRTV Interviews
Colt: End-to-End Key for 2017

1|10|17   |   6:21   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Rome, Nico Fischbach of Colt said having a multi-carrier, end-to-end service proposition is going to be key for 2017 -- and SD-WAN is instrumental in making it happen.
Upcoming Live Events
March 21-22, 2017, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
A Women in Comms Glossary
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 1/18/2017
Is Cable One Beefing Up for Slaughter?
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 1/20/2017
Google Security Lessons for IT
Curtis Franklin, Security Editor, 1/18/2017
Nokia CTO: 2017 Is the Year 5G Gets in the Field
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/19/2017
Do Women-Only Co-Working Spaces Work for Women?
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 1/24/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders chats with Sportlogiq CEO Craig Buntin about sports data analysis.
Eyal Waldman, CEO of Mellanox Technologies, speaks to Steve Saunders, CEO of Light Reading, for an exclusive interview about the 100 GB cable challenge, cybersecurity and much more.
Animals with Phones
You've Heard of Slow Food? Click Here
This is slow tech.
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.