& cplSiteName &

Users Want 'Open' SDN Done Right

Craig Matsumoto
2/14/2013
50%
50%

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
cross
50%
50%
cross,
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.- 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- right now.- Results will be published and shown live at SDN Summit, Paris, March 19-22.-- 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.- 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)
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
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. -As them how they are going to have ANY differentiated features and have them be interoperable with all other vendors? -At that point, I think this idea will change.

seven
Craig Matsumoto
50%
50%
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?- 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.
More Blogs from Craig's A-List
If there isn't a master plan behind Google's creation of Kubernetes, maybe there ought to be.
Already replaced as CEO, John Chambers is fully detaching as he plans to step down as Cisco chairman, truly ending his time as the face and voice of the company.
The network must be automated. And Light Reading must write about it.
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
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading is spending much of this year digging into the details of how automation technology will impact the comms market, but let's take a moment to also look at how automation is set to overturn the current world order by the middle of the century.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
December 5-7, 2017, The Intercontinental Prague
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
SmartNICs aren't just about achieving scale. They also have a major impact in reducing CAPEX and OPEX requirements.
Hot Topics
When Will 6G Arrive? Hopefully Never, Says BT's McRae
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/21/2017
Let's Talk About 5G Efficiency, Not Wacky Services
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/21/2017
Wireless Could Arrive Soon in NYC Subway Tunnels
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/20/2017
Juniper's New Contrail VP Hails From Google
Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading, 11/15/2017
Eurobites: Telefnica Reckons Plastic Is Fantastic for FTTH
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 11/15/2017
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Partner Perspectives - content from our sponsors
The Mobile Broadband Road Ahead
By Kevin Taylor, for Huawei
All Partner Perspectives