Light Reading
Google and Microsoft have mature clouds with sophisticated SDN, light-years ahead of service provider implementations.

Google, Microsoft Challenge Service Providers

Mitch Wagner
3/7/2014
50%
50%

SANTA CLARA — Open Networking Summit (ONS) 2014 — While service providers take their first steps toward implementing SDN, Google and Microsoft have been at it for years. They are huge, they are mature, and they are both potential threats and potential customer windfalls for service providers.

The two companies gave back-to-back presentations at ONS this week in which they described how they're using virtual networking to drive their cloud services.

"Andromeda" is the internal code word for Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s virtualized network, said Google distinguished engineer Amin Vahdat. Google believes its WAN may be the largest software defined WAN in the world, and Google has worked on its infrastructure for more than 10 years.

Amin Vahdat
Amin Vahdat

Andromeda is built based on Google's IT philosophy that scaling out beats scaling up, and a logically centralized hierarchical control plane with peer-to-peer data plane beats full centralization, Vahdat said.

The network needs to meet Google's requirements, including each customer needs an isolated virtual network, separate from others; the network needs to be resistant to DDoS attacks; it must map external services to internal namespaces; and support authentication, authorization, and billing. And the network needs to maintain efficiency while doing all that, Vahdat said.

SDN is required for Google to meet its business needs, to provide isolated, high-performance networks with end-to-end QoS and availability, Vahdat said. (See Defining SDN & NFV.)

Andromeda incorporates APIs for NFV, to get away from dedicated appliances for functions including load balancing, security, and access control.

One benefit Google has not seen from cloud computing is simplification, Vahdat said. "Cloud computing hasn't made operations easier -- yet. I believe it must and it will."

For Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s part, SDN is part of its Windows Azure platform, said Albert Greenberg, development director for the Windows Azure networking at Microsoft. SDN helps provide Microsoft's cloud offering with agility, he said.

Albert Greenberg
Albert Greenberg

Azure is designed to allow companies to move their IT infrastructure to the public cloud for elastic scaling that's less expensive than an on-premises data center, and it runs Microsoft's major properties, including Office 365, OneDrive, Skype, Bing, and Xbox.

SDN is the solution that allows Microsoft to scale virtual networks across millions of servers, with flexibility, timely feature rollout, and the ability to debug problems. SDN also allows Azure to be a part of each customer's internal network, to make managing the cloud easier for Microsoft customers. "Azure is just another branch office of your enterprise, via VPN," Greenberg said.

Using SDN, Microsoft supports more than 50,000 virtual networks over 100,000 servers in a data center, Greenberg said.

"The key is how can we scale and be agile," Greenberg said. Microsoft’s “battle-tested” Azure server software will be offered for private clouds through Windows Server, he said.

Greenberg and a colleague demonstrated ExpressRoute, an automated configuration tool that allows customers to configure their own SDNs with a few minutes of clicking and typing in a browser.

Microsoft and Google made impressive demonstrations, and they appear to have a significant lead over service providers in deploying SDNs. We've seen this week how service providers are taking their first steps toward implementing SDN. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has a huge, ambitious plan and says it is a good way along in implementing, but concedes it also has a very long way to go. Major US wireless operators say they’ve yet to see cost benefits from SDN. Meanwhile, both Google and Microsoft have been at it with SDNs for many years.

Google and Microsoft are potential threats to service providers that are looking to become cloud providers. They will find Microsoft and Google have gotten there first.

On the other hand, special-purpose cloud providers like Google and Microsoft have to buy networking connectivity themselves in order to serve their customers. And that's a great opportunity for service providers to expand their business.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading.

Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to mwagner@lightreading.com.

Want to learn more about this topic? Check out the agenda for The Big Telecom Event (BTE), which will take place on June 17 and June 18 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. The event combines the educational power of interactive conference sessions devised and hosted by Heavy Reading's experienced industry analysts with multi-vendor interoperability and proof-of-concept networking and application showcases. For more on the event, the topics, and the stellar service provider speaker line-up, see Telecommunication Luminaries to Discuss the Hottest Industry Trends at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event in June.

(9)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Liz Greenberg
50%
50%
Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/14/2014 | 5:59:59 PM
Re: Learning from the "new kids in the sandbox"
@FakeMitch, I hope that we some co-opetition amongst the players.  It would probably serve them all best to share some, after all even 5 year olds learn to share in the sandbox!
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/14/2014 | 5:20:01 PM
Re: Learning from the "new kids in the sandbox"
Thanks, Liz! It will be interesting to see how the relationships between Webscale companies and service providers play out. There's the potential for cooperation and competition. 

I expect we'll see an acquisition unless regulators bloc it. 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/10/2014 | 9:14:51 PM
Re: Learning from the "new kids in the sandbox"
Based on my experience as a camp counselor in my teens, I can tell you that a dozen or so six-year-olds can definitely take down a strapping young man.

This is, of course, completely off-topic and not at all a metaphor for anything currently happening in the service provider industry.
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/10/2014 | 4:06:32 PM
Re: Learning from the "new kids in the sandbox"
The incumbent telcos don't really have much to be worried about... they've seen plenty of innovative technologies enter the market -- and not even come close to disrupting their monopolies. SDN services operate on top of the physical network... and guess who controls the physical layer? 

 
Atlantis-dude
50%
50%
Atlantis-dude,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/10/2014 | 12:53:16 PM
Network connectivity
Do Google and Microsoft buy inter-DC network connectivity from the service providers or do they just buy/lease dark fiber and operate it themselves ?
Liz Greenberg
50%
50%
Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/10/2014 | 1:23:43 AM
Re: Learning from the "new kids in the sandbox"
I think that you are right @DOShea.  The telcos are used to being in the big kids picking on the little kids.  They forgot that the little kids grew up, had some steriods and can now kick sand in their collective faces.  So they would be wise to pay attention and learn.
DOShea
50%
50%
DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
3/7/2014 | 9:59:55 PM
Re: Learning from the "new kids in the sandbox"
I think there's a little bit of a fear factor there. The telcos probably don't want to believe they can or should have to learn anything about SDN from Google or anyone considered more of a software or Internet company. There's maybe still some belief that Google's SDN story is different from what their own will be.
Liz Greenberg
50%
50%
Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/7/2014 | 6:46:53 PM
Learning from the "new kids in the sandbox"
Great article Mitch.  I think that you nailed it and that the telcos would be wise to learn from Microsoft, Google, and every other applications vendor who has already been playing in this sandbox.  Maybe it is even an opportunity for Microsoft and Google to consult for the telcos?
dwx
50%
50%
dwx,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/7/2014 | 6:46:16 PM
WAN vs. Datacenter
It depends if you are talking about the true backbone WAN networks versus datacenter networks where virtualization scale is needed with lots of tenant networks.  

AFAIK, Google still uses Juniper routers using the age-old RSVP-TE MPLS they have always used for their core backbone network.  In those regards they are pretty much the same as every other service provider network.  The edges of their network are very intelligent however and definitely use SDN-like mechanisms to control and balance traffic.  
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Virtual CPE

1|27|15   |   01:38   |   (5) comments


As NFV strategies evolve from tests and trials to production telco networks, expect to hear a lot about virtual CPE (customer premises equipment) rollouts during 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
Optical Is Hot in 2015

1|23|15   |   01:56   |   (2) comments


Optical comms technology underpins the whole communications sector and there are some really hot trends set for 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Policy Control in the Fast Lane

1|22|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


What's making policy control strategic in 2015 and beyond? Amdocs talks with Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie about the key factors driving change in the data services landscape. Find out what his policy management research reveals about the road ahead for policy control – and sign up for
LRTV Documentaries
Highlights From the 2020 Vision Executive Summit

1|21|15   |   4:33   |   (2) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading brought together telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Cisco's Doug Webster shared his company's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Harmonic, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment with Huawei

1|20|15   |   5:42   |   (1) comment


At IBC, Peter Alexander, Senior Vice President & CMO at Harmonic, speaks about the growing interest in pay-TV service and its branching into multiple devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sony Marketing Director Olivier Bovis Discusses the Outlook for 4K and Cooperation With Huawei at IBC 2014

1|20|15   |   6:50   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Envivio, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment

1|20|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Pay-TV's Networked Future

1|20|15   |   6:29   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about the future of the pay-TV industry and its transition.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Jeff Heynen: Distributed Access Will Help MSOs Compete in the Future

1|20|15   |   2:26   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about moving to distributed access and the future trend of cable business.
LRTV Interviews
Cisco Talks Transformation

1|20|15   |   13:02   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Cisco VP of Products & Solutions Marketing Doug Webster at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Cisco's approach to network virtualization as well as how service providers can begin to monetize high-capacity networks through the end of the decade.
Upcoming Live Events
February 5, 2015, Washington, DC
February 19, 2015, The Fairmont San Jose, San Jose, CA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 9-10, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2-3, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
Infographics
Hot Topics
Google Continues Gigabit Expansion
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/27/2015
Comcast Apologizes to 'A**hole' Brown
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/29/2015
US Ops Spend $32.5M to Bring 4G to Chicago's Subways
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 1/30/2015
Cablevision's New WiFi Try – Freewheeling Enough?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 1/26/2015
Overture Builds on NFV Foundation
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/27/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Weekly Executive Interview
Join us live for Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he has to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.