Light Reading

Empowering End-Users Through Open SDN

Dan Pitt
Dan Pitt

SDN may be a new development, but there is already a bevy of key players in the space and more joining the effort every day. Startups and established vendors, software developers and chipmakers, user groups and standards bodies -- everyone seems to be getting their hands on SDN.

It's a great time for the networking industry, especially for the end-users who will see direct benefits from these technologies.

But this game-changer also offers exciting possibilities for the future of the network as a whole: networking solutions without vendor lock-in; putting control back into the hands of end-users; directly tying network (and IT) operation to business priorities; flexible, service-independent infrastructure; discussions throughout the entire networking industry, from hardware to software to consumer; the potential for a vibrant, truly open ecosystem with unprecedented choice. That's why the word "open" is on everyone's lips.

In defining openness, we refer to initiatives that are not controlled by a single party. We want to get as many hands as possible in the SDN movement, and we want equal opportunity for contribution from the broad spectrum of organizations affected. This is why the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) fosters dialogue between vendors and customers; works directly with organizations such as OpenDaylight, the Open Compute Project, and ETSI NFV; has a Board of Directors composed entirely of major, committed SDN end-users; and encourages participation and innovation from companies of all sizes. The reality is that, if the concept of the marketplace of ideas holds steady, we must ensure that many voices are heard.

To have openness within the SDN ecosystem, we believe that standards play a significant role. Standards provide the framework and the guidelines for enabling solutions that are not only open but also interoperable. They can be de jure (defined by committees) or de facto (defined by the marketplace), and market demands associated with the standard determine which means of definition is preferred.

For example, consider the difference between protocols and interfaces. Both can be highly effective standards if they are chosen at the right places, fostering innovation around them once they are agreed. But protocols are essentially the languages that networks speak across physical links, while interfaces are points of connection between network components, such as equipment or protocol layers, allowing information to move throughout a system. Open, vendor-neutral, standard protocols are vital and useful to the SDN community. They ensure that SDN solutions speak the same language, encouraging an interoperable marketplace.

But establishing these standards through a competitive marketplace would be time-consuming and costly, or not even possible if the costs incurred included custom ASIC development. Therefore, a committee is the preferred method for protocol standardization.

In contrast, open, standard interfaces, especially software APIs, are best suited to being de facto standards, because they can be easily iterated and improved on within the marketplace. Nonetheless, it is still important that the industry does everything possible to ensure that whatever interface becomes popular and standardized within the market is still vendor-neutral and not controlled by a single party.

Those who develop standards also play an important role in ensuring that they be open. From ONF's standpoint, standards should be created by those within the industry who have a financial stake in their outcome and can control when they are implemented. The reality is that end-users do not make products -- vendors do. However, operators have a direct impact on the industry because they create services out of products and have direct control over anything that is implemented within their networks. They experience SDN's benefits. It is of particular interest to them that the solutions they purchase and the software their networks leverage be open and interoperable. They should be actively helping to determine what is standardized de facto and de jure because they are directly affected by these decisions as customers.

ONF strongly encourages -- and enjoys -- the participation of end-users in the organization's efforts as we work on and build upon standards for SDN.

The goal of the SDN movement is to change the domain from hardware to software and to put the software in the hands of the network operator. It is a huge shift, and we understand that it will take time for networks (and organizations) to make the transition. We are doing everything we can to simplify the process, and we continue to sense a great deal of optimism from the end-user community. The more we engage with customers, the more we begin to understand the empowerment that they associate with taking control of the network once again. Power is shifting from vendors to end-users, and from lock-in to open and interoperable, and the enthusiasm that we are observing is inspirational.

— Dan Pitt, Executive Director, Open Networking Foundation, and Marc Cohn, Chair, ONF Market Education Committee and Senior Director, Market Development, Ciena

Dan Pitt is a keynote speaker at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event (BTE), which will take place on June 17 and 18 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. The event, for which the ONF is a founding partner, combines the educational power of interactive conference sessions devised and hosted by Heavy Reading's experienced industry analysts with multi-vendor interoperability and proof-of-concept networking and application showcases. For more on the event, the topics, and the stellar service provider speaker lineup, see Telecommunication Luminaries to Discuss the Hottest Industry Trends at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event in June.

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Beer
5/29/2014 | 5:43:00 PM
Re: Empowering End-Users Through Open SDN
Hi, DHagar. Thank you for your comment, and I'm grateful to hear of your shared belief. Software is a real game-changer, and as the movement progresses, it is of utmost importance that we focus on open SDN and the needs of users. It's an exciting time in the networking industry! Dan Pitt
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/28/2014 | 8:45:33 PM
Empowering End-Users Through Open SDN
Dan, these are very positive developments.  It sounds as if your organization is going about this in a very thoughtful way.  I think the emphasis on standards and responding to the end users is key, as meeting their demands will create the growing markets for SDN.

It sounds as if this is a maturing process that will really establish SDN.  I share your belief that software is the key.
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Column
Cord cutting is a real and present threat to pay-TV, but it has been an erosion, not a landslide.
They go together hand-in-hand in many networks but the relationship is strained – is there a way to improve the efficiency of an OpenStack and OVS deployment?
The comms industry is rallying to the cause of open, independent interoperability testing.
Data analytics and revenue assurance are growing in strategic importance for the cable industry.
The introduction of IoT applications is supposed to make life easier for homo sapiens. But things are off to a bad start, according to Accedian's Scott Sumner.
From The Founder
Light Reading's conference in November will attempt to answer all of the big questions around white box networks. No pressure...
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE in Budapest ITU 2015

10|13|15   |   03:26   |   (0) comments

ZTE Chief Architect David Huo discusses the company's progress on the 5G front.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Close-up on ConfD

10|12|15   |   10.21   |   (0) comments

Tail-f's Renée Robinson-Stromberg tells Steve Saunders about the powerful ConfD management interface.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Women in Comms: Highlights From Dallas

10|12|15   |   2:23   |   (1) comment

The best soundbites, quotes and words of wisdom from leading women from Intel, AT&T, Verizon and Genband at our recent WiC breakfast in Dallas.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
NetNumber Founder on Managing Signaling Control

10|12|15   |   6:36   |   (0) comments

NetNumber Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Doug Ranalli describes the essential complexity of real-world signaling-control and how NetNumber enables carriers to bring signaling-control "under-control". Learn why virtualization alone isn't the answer.
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon Gets Proactive on App Performance

10|12|15   |   04:50   |   (0) comments

SDN is turning traditional service models around to allow Verizon to measure and deliver performance at the application layer. As Shawn Hakl, VP of enterprise networking and managed solutions for Verizon, explains, the carrier had to develop new skill sets and change some of its internal operations, but the payoff was happier enterprise customers.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Tail-f, Cisco & What the Future Holds

10|9|15   |   8:17   |   (0) comments

Steve Saunders meets with Tail-f's Director of Technology, Carl Moberg, in Stockholm to discuss becoming part of Cisco, ETSI MANO, virtualization and the need to combine science and business in order to create opportunities for service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Broadband Forum Embraces SDN & NFV

10|9|15   |   02:42   |   (1) comment

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Robin Mersh and Kevin Foster from the Broadband Forum explain how the industry body is adapting to meet the SDN, NFV and cloud needs of the access network sector.
LRTV Interviews
Top Tips for FTTH Operators

10|8|15   |   02:26   |   (1) comment

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Ventura Team co-founder Richard Jones talks about some of the key business case considerations for FTTH network operators.
LRTV Interviews
M-net Calls for FTTx Unity

10|8|15   |   03:45   |   (0) comments

At the Gigabit Europe event, Jörn Schoof from M-net, the Munich city network operator, calls for industry collaboration on fiber broadband access rollouts.
LRTV Documentaries
The Business Case Challenge for NFV

10|7|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Virtual CPE is one of the early success stories for network functions virtualization, as service providers are finding flexible, programmable CPE solves a lot of logistics problems and reduces their cost. But even here, Masergy Communications faced a business case challenge, says CTO Tim Naramore.
LRTV Interviews
JT Offers Some Gigabit Lessons

10|7|15   |   4:08   |   (1) comment

Barna Kutvolgyi, managing director, Global Consumer, at JT, the incumbent operator on the island of Jersey, talks about how other service providers can learn from his company's gigabit broadband rollout experiences.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Chiosi on the Potential of Open Source

10|6|15   |   06:27   |   (0) comments

AT&T Distinguished Network Architect Margaret T. Chiosi talks to Light Reading's Carol Wilson about the potential for open source technology to liberate communications service providers.
Upcoming Live Events
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Network appliances have a strong value proposition in today's networks and will continue to do so in the NFV and SDN-enabled networks of tomorrow.
Hot Topics
Dell Buys EMC for $67B in Biggest Tech Deal Ever
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/12/2015
Cord Cutting? 'Fraid so.
Brett Sappington, 10/7/2015
Infinera Fleshes Out Its Metro 100G Story
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/7/2015
Cisco Makes 'Martian' Connection
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/9/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With so many new and exciting communications technologies now under development, it's easy to get caught up in the industry's escalating hype cycle. That's why the ...
Last week saw a big day in the 15-year history of Light Reading when Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre and I were invited to interview the Deputy Chairman and Rotating ...
Cats with Phones
"What?! I'm on with Finisar about their stock price tanking" Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Think NFV is just about virtualization? Think again!

Network architects are learning that there's a lot more to the technology than first thought – more complexity, that is; but also, more potential benefits.

On May 29th 1 PM ET, Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, will be drilling into the "pains and gains" of NFV with Saar Gillai, SVP & GM, HP Communications Solutions Business at Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) (HP). He has defined a four-step NFV model describing a sequence of technology innovation. It's a must-read doc for any network architect looking to get to grips with their NFV migration strategy. Join us for the interview, and the chance to ask Saar your NFV questions directly!