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SDN Specs Bodies Come Under Fire

Ray Le Maistre
3/11/2014
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SAN FRANCISCO -- OFC 2014 -- Industry standards and specifications bodies are turning SDN into something of a circus that's a distraction from real progress, according to a carrier executive who shared his views here Monday.

During an The Optical Society (OSA) Executive Forum panel session, Andrew Lord, head of optical research at BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), was asked whether there may be too many industry bodies developing SDN-related standards. Lord said those bodies are "so competitive… they've all jumped on the SDN bandwagon, and with all of them coming from different backgrounds, it muddies the waters. There's just so much hype."

The industry needs about two or three years to "have a play" with SDN, he said. "We are getting stuff in the lab -- we don't really know yet what we're going to do or what makes sense, so we're going to give it a go [in the lab] and see what makes sense."

Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) CEO Gary Smith agreed with that. "The standards bodies have picked it [SDN] up and run with it," he said during a lunchtime news briefing Tuesday. "It's going to take two or three years for it to play out."

Aref Chowdhury, CTO of optics at Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), isn't too happy about the focus of the SDN specifications organizations. During the OSA's Executive Forum Monday, he said a lot of time and effort has been spent on the development of "southbound" and "northbound" interfaces for SDN controllers (southbound to the network, northbound to applications).

What really needs more focus is the "east to west" interface from SDN controller to SDN controller, he said. "That needs to be standardized. If you get that right, then everything else will fall into place."

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
3/12/2014 | 5:13:36 PM
Re: Open and Standards are not the same
I don't think the ETSI group has rules that are that strict but then again, despite the "specifications" in the title, I'm not sure it's considered a standards body, per se. But I'll let Tom or someone else more intimately involved comment on that. 
brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/12/2014 | 5:11:09 PM
Re: Open and Standards are not the same
Carol,

I don't know the ETSI NFV ISG process, but maybe Tom could enlighten us.  FSAN had the following rules:

1 - A Vendor MUST be invited by a Carrier Member - no invite no showee uppee.

2 - No Vendor has a vote on standard adoption.  Vendors contribute technical papers the merits of which are discussed by the carriers after the vendors are shooed out of the room.

Most standard bodies are very different than that.

seven

 
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
3/12/2014 | 5:00:46 PM
Re: Open and Standards are not the same
That's essentially what the ETSI NFV ISG is - it was created by carriers. And the ONF board is dominated by network operators, along with Google,Facebook, Microsoft and some academics. 

That's why I wondering who are these standards bodies that are mucking things up.
brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/12/2014 | 4:44:25 PM
Re: Open and Standards are not the same
You know....the carriers could form their own standards body and run it.  FSAN was like that.

seven
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
3/12/2014 | 12:42:42 PM
Re: Open and Standards are not the same
Mike,

I agree with you, completely. That's why I'm wondering what standards groups are being referenced here. 

 

Carol
mbushong
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mbushong,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/12/2014 | 10:06:17 AM
Open and Standards are not the same
Open is too imprecise a term. When people say open, what they usually mean is either interchangeable or interoperable. It is possible to have both of those before a standard emerges. Conversely, you can have a standard and end up with neither of those (Open EIGRP, anyone)? 

Trying to standardize before a technology is mature is like tying a big boat anchor to a bunch of people and telling them to run. It just slows people down. The emphasis has to be on getting code into production, and making the meaningful interfaces open access (so others can use them). Note this is different than open source, which implies the whole implementation is out in the wild.

The good thing about OpenDaylight is the emphasis on getting code out. It's the only way to rapidly iterate around a new technology. To think that anyone can sit around in their smoking jackets and pontificate with precision how a tech will emerge is a bit naive. We need active experimentation.

Mike Bushong (@mbushong)

Plexxi
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
3/12/2014 | 9:32:35 AM
Re: Damned if you do...
Maybe we need to clarify with the BT fellow which "standards bodies" he is annoyed with, as most of the ones I know that are mucking about in SDN - the Open Networking Foundation and Open Daylight, to name two -- aren't promoting standards so much as trying to coordinate industry efforts to develop open approaches to innovation. 

Now maybe that's just code for standards. Ray - who is he talking about here?
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/12/2014 | 9:27:47 AM
Re: Damned if you do...
There's almost always a gap between what people say they want and what they actually do want. And while building everything to a predetermined standard makes sense on one level, it does skew things to a lower common denominator (hence the point about stifling innovation). I'm trying to think of a technology innovation that led with standardization before innovation. Can't come up with one.
Ray@LR
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Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
3/12/2014 | 8:21:37 AM
Re: Must be early
Never too early for you to be wearing your laughing strides, PD...
pdonegan67
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pdonegan67,
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3/12/2014 | 4:05:04 AM
Must be early
Must be early morning here. I read this headline and wondered what controversy the newest iteration of Google Glass is stirring up....
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