Light Reading

SDN's Northbound Ascent

Ray Le Maistre
1/9/2014
50%
50%

Critical groundwork on the interfaces between software-defined networking (SDN) controllers and the application layer has been undertaken by the Open Networking Foundation 's (ONF) recently-formed Northbound Interfaces Working Group, laying the path for a greater understanding of how SDN can be utilized in multiple data-networking scenarios.

ONF is working on multiple fronts to develop SDN architectures for enterprises and network operators and to promote the use of the OpenFlow protocol in next generation networks. It stated in an email update this week that the working group, announced only a few months ago, has already identified a number of use cases and "levels of abstraction." ONF plans to share these when it publishes its Northbound Interface "information models" later this year. Those models, it says, will be "accompanied by open-source working code for select use cases." (See HP Exec Goes Northbound for SDN.)

The so-called Northbound Interface is important because it is the application programming interface (API) between SDN controllers and applications, management systems, and orchestration software. (The Southbound Interface, meanwhile, is the API that enables a controller to define the behavior of switches/routers, with OpenFlow being a prime example of a Southbound Interface protocol.)

Many different Northbound APIs already exist. ONF is providing guidance on what those APIs are and on the instances in which they are most applicable. It is not, ONF's executive director Dan Pitt explained in a November article written for Light Reading, developing a standard Northbound API. It is however monitoring the potential use of certain specifications that could be of use to network operators, vendors, and developers. (See Compass Check: ONF & the Northbound API(s).)

Identifying and evaluating Northbound APIs is just one of a number of current major challenges for the SDN community. Others revolve around the issues of OSS and orchestration. (Expect the Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) community to be very active in this area during 2014.) Another area of focus is security, where SDN developers are working towards self-defending systems, such as SE-Floodlight, that use analytics to identify potential threats and adjust data flows.

With 2014 set to be another major year for networking professionals considering SDN's potential, developments such as the Northbound Interface APIs and network security models are important, especially considering that they are progressing at a pace not often seen in the telco world. That's particularly important because, while SDN was borne of the datacenter sector initially, Pitt believes that telecom service providers will be the key drivers behind SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV) developments this year. (See AT&T Revamps Supplier Program for SDN/NFV and Top 5 NFV Movers & Shakers.)

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

(6)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
RolfSperber
50%
50%
RolfSperber,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/10/2014 | 11:18:23 AM
Re: Hot topic
Carol, Ray,


We, that is a group of specialists from University of Dresden, Deutsche Telekom, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology and others are working on an SDN stack that will finally enable both vertical and horizontal integration. The basic idea is to forward application defined requirements to involved network segments and finally to the network elements. Andy Georgi (University of Dresden) presented our approach on Infocomp 2013. We are open for additional partners and we can provide details to any interested party.
Ray@LR
50%
50%
Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
1/10/2014 | 6:55:17 AM
Re: Hot topic
This is a very necessary move, to identify what can be utilized, and how, in a non-proprietary environment.

A set of specifications or building blocks that would enable the development or updating of APIs to enable interoperability/portability looks like the best way forward.
njmodi
50%
50%
njmodi,
User Rank: Moderator
1/9/2014 | 8:10:39 PM
Re: Hot topic

As has already been noted, there are are many SDN controllers available today (in various stages of readiness), but many are vertically integrated with a given vendors hardware and the APIs are only useful for that integrated solution. The the ONFs work in developing and publishing standard northbound APIs that can be leveraged by vendors who are building truly open multi-vendor SDN solutions will help move the industry forward. Standardized and/or easily adaptable APIs will help ensure interoperability, make controller portability more feasible. It is probable that higher-order APIs will be developed using the building blocks specified by the ONF. It will be interesting to see how the work the ONF is doing around APIs can be leveraged for SDN in the WAN, specifically for service orchestration.

Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
1/9/2014 | 2:44:21 PM
Re: Hot topic
If it's vendor noise - everyone has their own controller and it controls mostly their stuff - I'm hoping it can be fairly quickly pushed aside. 

But there will be real issues to address in this process, to be sure. 
sam masud
50%
50%
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/9/2014 | 2:42:17 PM
Re: Hot topic
Maybe, just maybe, ONF could be opening up Pandora's box considering how many controllers of various flavors are out there, with perhaps more to come. Roy Chua of SDNCentral has very succinct article on the various controllers at:

http://www.sdncentral.com/market/controller-onlab-juniper-open-source-sdn-battleground-part1/2013/12/

Get the feeling we're going to hear a lot of noise on this one.
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
1/9/2014 | 8:49:34 AM
Hot topic
This has been a topic that comes up in virtually every conversation I have about SDN with either vendors or network operators - it will be interesting to see progress made on this front. 
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Network architects aiming to upgrade their networks to support agile, open, virtualized services in the 21st century need to consider new criteria when choosing between technology suppliers.
Live Streaming Video
BTE 2015 Sponsor Keynote: HP
Dr. Prodip Sen, CTO, Network Functions Virtualization, HP
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat Demo

7|2|15   |   10:53   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Nicolas Lemieux demonstrates how Red Hat is driving innovation through open source communities.
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat's Approach to OpenStack Adoption

7|2|15   |   5:17   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Radhesh Balakrishnan outlines his company's open source strategy for both enterprises and telcos.
LRTV Custom TV
The New IP Goes Mobile With vEPC

7|2|15   |   1:12   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Gabriel Brown discusses results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade that shows a clear commitment by mobile operators to move quickly to virtual EPC deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Business Sense of SDN

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Results of a Brocade-sponsored survey show that CSPs have a clear sense of SDN use cases but are wrestling with the business case. Sterling Perrin of Heavy Reading looks behind the numbers.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Will Be Here Sooner Than You Think

7|2|15   |   2:22   |   (0) comments


Forget the usual ten-year cycle for new technologies – NFV will be a core part of CSP networks in five years, based on results of a Brocade-sponsored survey, says Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell.
LRTV Custom TV
The New IP Gains Traction With CSPs

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Roz Roseboro of Heavy Reading analyzes results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade showing that CSPs are getting serious about making the transition to the New IP era.
LRTV Custom TV
It's (Real) Time for Analytics

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Jim Hodges looks at how CSPs say they plan to use analytics to deploy new services in real time as part of The New IP, based on results of a survey sponsored by Brocade.
LRTV Documentaries
IoT in Action

6|30|15   |   1:39   |   (8) comments


Two co-workers discuss the benefits of IoT technology.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson Opens Up on OPNFV

6|30|15   |   14:16   |   (2) comments


Martin Bäckström, VP and head of industry area Datacom at Ericsson, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the emergence of OPNFV, the importance of standards and Ericsson's OPNFV plans.
LRTV Custom TV
NetNumber Founder Discusses NFV/SDN Impact on SP Networks

6|26|15   |   4:15   |   (0) comments


NetNumber Founder Doug Ranalli examines why SPs need a new network infrastructure for service agility. While NFV and SDN are the tools, the old ways of thinking about signaling control are inhibitors. Doug provides his recommendations.
LRTV Custom TV
Orchestrating NFV vCPE Services Across Multivendor Networks

6|26|15   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Nirav Modi provides an overview of vCPE, the fastest-growing NFV use case, showing how Cyan's Blue Planet orchestrates vCPE services across a multivendor infrastructure to rapidly deliver new managed services for business customers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at LTE Summit Amsterdam 2015

6|26|15   |     |   (0) comments


As one of the leading global telecommunications providers, ZTE presented its cutting-edge technology at LTE World Summit 2015 in Amsterdam. On display at ZTE's booth were the latest R&D achievements in wireless, 5G development, HetNet, deep convergence of FDD and TDD, and RCS/IMD/iSDN/vCN.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Who's Feeding Fiber to LinkNYC Hotspots?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/29/2015
What's a Gigabit Good For?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/1/2015
Colt to Jettison Ailing IT Business
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/30/2015
Eurobites: Activist Investor Takes Stake in AlcaLu
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 6/30/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Casa Systems has been going from strength to strength over the last couple of years. In 2013, it became the first vendor to ship an integrated CCAP device -- the ...
Cedrik Neike, SVP of Global Service Provider, Service Delivery, at Cisco, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about solving service provider customer problems in a virtualized, DevOps world, including multivendor support and the future of network procurement.
Cats with Phones