Light Reading

Open Networking Summit: Bar Mitzvah for SDNs

Mitch Wagner

Next week's Open Networking Summit is starting to look like a coming-of-age party for software-defined networking (SDN).

"You can see SDN is becoming more real, there are more early adopters, and it's being adopted more broadly than you heard before," Guru Parulkar, chair of Open Networking Summit (ONS), said in a phone interview.

The Open Networking Summit 2014 in Santa Clara March 3-5 is a conference highlighting technology and business applications of SDN.

Image source: Peter van der Sluijs
Image source: Peter van der Sluijs

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s John Donovan will describe how AT&T is embracing SDN and changing its processes and organization to build future networks and infrastructure using SDN and NFV. Google will describe how it's using SDN, not just in its own datacenters but also in its public-facing cloud. And NTT Communications will also discuss its progress with SDN.

In addition to addresses by vendors and service providers, the conference will feature a research track showing where more universities and research organizations are bringing SDN forward to develop new capabilities. The conference will showcase open source projects as well. Developer tracks will focus on OpenFlow, OpenDaylight, and other open source SDN technologies.

"What gives us enthusiasm is that not only is SDN becoming real, but SDN has a high probability of being absorbed and going mainstream," Parulkar said. This won't happen this year, but it's about two or three years out.

How would mainstream SDN transform networking? "That is a $10-$50 billion question," Parulkar said. The answer is unknown, but we can look to the PC and how that changed the datacenter for guidance. Companies such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Facebook and Amazon Web Services LLC build their own datacenter components. Other companies don't have that level of sophistication, but they benefit from the building blocks, and turn to solution providers to put both tools together at lower cost than proprietary solutions.

"You can expect the same thing to happen in the networking industry as well," Parulkar said. Service providers now pay 60-70% margin for networking equipment. "Network operators cannot be paying those margins while they themselves are making 20% margins," he said.

I'll be at the conference too, exploring the future of SDN with other attendees; if you see me, come up and say hi. Alas, the California Bureau Mascot is staying home to hold down the fort.

More about SDN:

— 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

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Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/6/2014 | 12:17:18 AM
Re: AT&T vs Google...
mhhf1ve - I did a follow-up article on NTT's plans for SDN. Alas, I can't post a link now; I'm on a flight with a flaky Internet connection. But the post went live today, headline "AT&T Reveals Audaciouis SDN Plans."
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/3/2014 | 7:26:04 PM
AT&T vs Google...
It'll be interesting to see how AT&T embraces SDN technologies versus the way Google does. I can't think of two companies with more different approaches to technology.... 

User Rank: Light Beer
3/2/2014 | 5:03:46 PM
The time for SDN has arrived - especially on the mobile operator side. I believe it will slowly be rolled out to augment capacity in existing areas of the network, both for the long term, as well as on the fly. Combine this with hybrid small cells and the possibilities are endless!
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/28/2014 | 11:25:13 PM
Just the tip
There's a joke about accessing getting cut and circumcision in here somewhere...
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
2/28/2014 | 10:20:32 AM
Re: Say what?
The real driver for SDN and its virtual cousin, NFV, in the service provider space, is that those "fat and happy" margins are disappearing. Competition is making it harder for mobile carriers to increase their rates -- the cost of data plans is actually falling - even as they invest billions in infrastructure upgrades. I know there's sympathy out there for the AT&Ts and Verizons of the world but even on the wireline broadband side, where the duopoly protects their margins, there is a great likelihood they will be commoditized if they can't figure out how to compete with new services.

User Rank: Light Sabre
2/28/2014 | 10:00:51 AM
Say what?
Exactly how many 100G ports this guy expects to sell every week to make the comparison with the PC consumer market valid? Service providers making 20% margin, that is because they are fat and happy! network hardware makers are squeezed to bare bones by these guys and to say they all have Cisco's margins is ludicrous.
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