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
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
Meet the Architect Behind LinkedIn

12|1|15   |   10:46   |   (1) comment

Steve Saunders speaks with Saikrishna Kotha, who leads LinkedIn's data center infrastructure architecture strategy. With over 400 million users, it's Kotha's job to deliver agility and speed, but also act as a business strategist to develop new ways that LinkedIn can monetize its user base. According to Kotha, LinkedIn runs on a mix of white box and vendor ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Service Gateway Virtual Edition

12|1|15   |   8.29   |   (0) comments

Allot's Jay Klein talks to Steve Saunders about its new Service Gateway Virtual Edition.
Wagner’s Ring
The Business Case for Open Source

11|30|15   |     |   (2) comments

Open source helps companies enhance infrastructure, undermine competitors' advantage and teach collaboration. But there are problems.
Between the CEOs
Centec on Ethernet Switching

11|26|15   |   09:58   |   (0) comments

Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (10) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (2) comments

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Hot Topics
Samsung: No Sale of Wireless Unit
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/25/2015
Cable Gives Thanks for Business Services
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 11/27/2015
Facebook in Africa: Beauty or Beast?
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/27/2015
Hong Kong Moments
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 11/26/2015
How Amazon TV Could Own Christmas
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 11/30/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Steve Saunders speaks with Saikrishna Kotha, who leads LinkedIn's data center infrastructure architecture strategy. With over 400 million users, it's Kotha's job to deliver agility and speed, but also act as a business strategist to develop new ways that LinkedIn can monetize its user base. According to Kotha, LinkedIn runs on a mix of white box and vendor hardware but has the DNA of a web-scale company.
Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
Cats with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.