Light Reading

Users Want 'Open' SDN Done Right

Craig Matsumoto
Valley Wonk
Craig Matsumoto

Isn't networking gear supposed to be interoperable? Shouldn't that interoperability prevent vendor lock-in? The answer isn't always "yes," to put it politely. A users' group that convened Wednesday to discuss software-defined networking (SDN) seems determined to make things work in their favor this time. The Open Networking User Group (ONUG) was a one-day conference organized in Boston by consultant Nick Lippis, head of Lippis Enterprises. "Users," in this case, refers mostly to large enterprises, representatives of which gathered to hear talks from SDN-vendor executives, among others. I haven't gotten to talk to attendees yet. But the five-point recommendation they're issuing Thursday morning is rather telling. Here's what they want to see in an "open" network:

  • Interoperable networks. When it comes to standards such as OpenFlow or common elements such as hypervisors, everyone has to play nice.
  • No vendor lock-in. Everybody ought to support everybody else's switches, services, hypervisors, controllers, and so on.
  • Networks that are programmable via northbound application programming interfaces (APIs). Part of the idea here is to speed up service creation by offering easy ways to link networks and applications. But it's also about replacing command-line interfaces with something more modern.
  • Increased network visibility. Monitoring needs to be pervasive and more thorough. Moreover, "Open networks should emit real time network statistics to various traffic analytic and Big Data engines to determine network operational state," the recommendation reads.
  • An open-networking business model. "ONUG believes that for open networking to accelerate, the industry needs a viable, altruistic, truly open networking business model to drive innovation, fuel research and development and deliver best of breed solutions without allowing individual vendor proprietary interests to derail SDN deployments. Who will be the Red Hat of Open Networking?"
It's the first two points and the last one -- the part about an "altruistic" model -- that stand out. Whether you believe in SDN or not, it seems clear that networking is at the start of some major changes. I think the goal behind ONUG was to make sure it gets done "right," by making sure the path isn't led by vendors. That mainly means Cisco Systems Inc. There's a concern Cisco will hijack SDN, either by redefining it into Cisco-friendly terms or by flooding the space with so many standards as to make SDN unusable. I've heard competitors fret about both possibilities. This attitude, this caution about vendors' methods and motives, isn't unique to ONUG. The Open Networking Foundation (ONF), which curates the OpenFlow standard and promotes SDN in general, bars equipment vendors from its board of directors. And the Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) effort is being driven by carriers. Every vendor (including Cisco) pledges its SDN architecture will be "open." This time, users will hold them to that. For more — Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Beer
2/15/2013 | 3:21:14 PM
re: Users Want 'Open' SDN Done Right
Vendor lock-in may happen incidentally by lack of interoperability ... The "Open" in the name and the very valid altruistic goals need to be complemented by interoperability testing efforts coordinated worldwide -- starting from an application point of view as far as EANTC's interoperability tests are concerned.-á We are working with the ONF, whose interop events focus on the protocol point of view primarily for enterprise data center use cases.

At EANTC in Berlin, Germany, we are conducting the first public service-provider focused SDN interoperability test-á right now.-á Results will be published and shown live at SDN Summit, Paris, March 19-22.-á-á We have defined a pretty extensive test plan with 11 OpenFlow- plus 8 PCE-related test cases focusing service provider WAN environments and interworking of SDN networks and legacy packet networks.

At this point, OpenFlow support seems to be more widespread; naturally implementations continue being developed. The more elaborate OpenFlow protocol version 1.2 is not backwards compatible to 1.0 which more vendors support at this point.-á PCE is an alternative means to control an SDN; we already tested early implementations last year.

So there are three threats visible on the horizon that could lead to "lock-in" situations:
1. Diverging vendor support of OpenFlow protocol versions
2. Industry disagreement about the best suitable control protocol for SDNs (OpenFlow, PCE, ...).
3. Non-overlapping protocol options support, resulting in lack of interoperability for certain use cases.

Please stay tuned for detailed test results to be published in a white paper by March 19.

Best regards, Carsten Rossenh+¦vel (EANTC)
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/15/2013 | 3:00:31 PM
re: Users Want 'Open' SDN Done Right
So true interoperability is a software thing. -áAs them how they are going to have ANY differentiated features and have them be interoperable with all other vendors? -áAt that point, I think this idea will change.

Craig Matsumoto
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/15/2013 | 12:23:03 AM
re: Users Want 'Open' SDN Done Right
Does no vendor lock-in reduce equipment to vanilla least-common-denominator?-á And realistically, will these changes in the network just shift vendor lock-in to other vendors, rather than really doing away with it?

Questions like that came up in a really interesting Twitter discussion shortly after this article popped up, involving Mike Dvorkin of Insieme and others -- samples of it all are here and here. By the time I'd noticed the dialogue, it had spiraled out of my league.

Dvorkin also made a good point: Many customers just want what works, not specific things like "open." This particular group of customers in ONUG is admittedly different from the norm. I'm doing a followup story on that.
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Valley Wonk
Comcast joins Google in asking for a flexible-rate optical standard, rather than 400G or terabit, but that's easier said than done
Cisco, Juniper and other more traditional Interop speakers might get overshadowed by the forces of virtualization
The Open Networking Summit has climbed the hype curve, but the conference should cling to its roots as a techie discussion forum for software-defined networking
The coalition's chairman says all these companies plan to further the SDN cause and don't have a 'nefarious' angle
Big vendors are reportedly banding together to unify SDN's approach but is it more about steering the conversation?
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
Cisco Makes 'Martian' Connection
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/9/2015
Dell Kicking EMC's Tires
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/8/2015
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!