& cplSiteName &

The Three Faces of SDN

Mitch Wagner
5/5/2014
50%
50%

The loosey-goosey school
The other school of SDN tries to marry the SDN vision with traditional networks. The goal is to make the network more flexible, agile, and programmable, while making it easier for carriers and enterprises to preserve their network investment (and for vendors to keep selling what they've always been selling). This vision also has the advantage of making SDN purists turn red with anger and heat up until steam comes out of their ears, which is fun to watch.

Because it's embarrassing for grown people to say "loosey-goosey," people use "overlay networking" to refer to loosey-goosey SDN, because the SDN network is an overlay on top of the traditional network. Overlay networking is becoming mainstream now. It's embraced by companies including Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW), and startups like PlumGrid Inc. and Midokura . (See Cisco & VMware Are Apple & Google of SDN and Midokura Does Net Virtualization at Web Scale .)

In the long run, overlay networks are doomed, as are the proprietary switches underlying them. But the long run is a long way away. The data can't wait for the long run -- the data has to flow now.

Both schools of SDN require enormous business transformations for carriers. Carriers will need new skills. They'll need to reorganize their networking departments around managing software, rather than hardware. How long will that transition take? Ask me again in 20 years or so. The data center transition to open systems is still sending shockwaves that show no signs of ending soon.

But wait, there's more
I discussed the competing visions of SDN with IDC analyst Brad Casemore, and he pointed out a third faction struggling for the networking market: The hyperscale cloud providers. These include Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) and service providers including CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). Enterprise cloud providers are looking to eliminate enterprise networks entirely and run everything in the cloud. They're likely to achieve success in SMBs at first. For example, Pertino offers cloud VPN services for SMBs.

This model is potentially apocalyptic. If this model succeeds, the enterprise switch-and-router market would dry up, as enterprises basically outsource their networks entirely to cloud providers. These cloud providers are today major customers of networking vendors, but they are also competitive threats. Cisco is trying to play multiple sides in this game -- a loosey-goosey networking vendor and also a cloud provider with its Intercloud strategy. (See Cisco's Cloud Bet: What's in It for SPs? and Can Cisco Help SPs Offer Cloud-based Apps?)

It's like The Game of Thrones. This TV show, and the books on which it's based, tell the stories of warring noble houses in a mythical kingdom. Each one of these houses wants to be the one to put a king on the throne, and they are all-consumed with fighting each other.

But what none of these houses realize -- at least not yet -- is that there's a vast zombie army, called the White Walkers, assembling in the arctic far north of the kingdom, and the White Walkers threaten to descend on the kingdom and sweep all the noble houses aside.

In this metaphor, the houses of Westeros are the traditional networking vendors, and the White Walkers are the cloud providers.

— 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 wagner@lightreading.com.


Want to learn more about SDN and the transport network? Check out the agenda for Light Reading's Big Telecom Event (BTE), which will take place on June 17 and 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 lineup, see Telecommunication Luminaries to Discuss the Hottest Industry Trends at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event in June.

 

(13)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/10/2014 | 3:39:00 PM
Re: Seems relevant
Oh, I think I see. Companies will save on opex through SDN, but the flexibility will create more demand for services and more demand on the network, leading to greater opex overall. Is that it?
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/10/2014 | 3:36:05 PM
Re: Tightening up the loosey-goosey face of SDN...
How can a company use a DIY approach to a public cloud? The essence of public cloud is to let an outside company (Microsoft, Amazon, etc.) run the cloud service for you. That's the very opposite of the defition of DIY. 

Likewise, you can't have a hybrid model on an all-private cloud. A hybrid cloud is part-public, part-private, whilea  private cloud is all-private. 

What am I missing?
sam masud
50%
50%
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/9/2014 | 1:39:59 PM
Re: Seems relevant
Mitch,

Sorry if my post came across as an oxymoron (or maybe just moronic), but what I meant is that overall opex will increase because SDN will make it easier to tailor more services/apps to more subs. I could be wrong, but that would not be the first time :-)

 
Houman0
50%
50%
Houman0,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/8/2014 | 7:19:13 PM
Re: Tightening up the loosey-goosey face of SDN...
Thanks Mitch!

In fact either private or public clouds can be built using a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) or shrink-wrapped model. Just that the priorities & needs they optimize for are different. Leading enterprises for whom IT is a critical asset (like financials, healthcare, and many manufacturing concerns) often lean toward picking best of breed sub-components and want the flexibility to mix and match to maximize performance, control/auditing & economics for their most essential apps. 

The hybrid cloud certainly emerges in popularity (initially more in theory than practice) as companies want to burst flexibly outside and above the bounds of their private clouds. But again, hybrid "environments" are more a more practical & important consideration today.

And hybrid environments exist everywhere, even in private clouds.  A hybrid environment, for instance, is one in which an enterprise wants to use different hypervisors (say KVM in some racks or datacenters, and ESXi or XEN in others), or has an established VMWare environment in place but also has several OpenStack projects underway in parallel. All of that could (and is) easily be happening in their private cloud.

Using a properly designed overlay virtualization approach, with a policy framework that is agnostic to the network infrastructure, that can be accomplished today and that's pretty cool.

It's definitely a gold star for some of us in the loosey-goosey camp :)
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/8/2014 | 4:32:32 PM
Re: Tightening up the loosey-goosey face of SDN...
Hi, houman - Absolutely, Nuage is doing fine work and they belong on the list. 

I suspect that what you are calling "DIY" and "shrink-wrapped" are what many people call "private" and "public." And there's a  third model too, gaining popularity: Hybrid. 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/8/2014 | 4:25:56 PM
Re: Seems relevant
sam masud - Sorry, I don't understand your question? Isn't "lower opex" the same as "comparatively lower"?
Houman0
50%
50%
Houman0,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/8/2014 | 4:22:08 PM
Tightening up the loosey-goosey face of SDN...
Hi Mitch,

There's more to the "loosey-goosey" face than meets the eye, and let's not forget Nuage Networks in that camp. (see http://ubm.io/1jlBxQG ). Especially to the extent that the flexibility of well-implemented overlays is combined with appropriate underlay awareness, and a common policy framework can be applied across all assets (virtualized or bare metal), in hybrid environments, across different hypervisors, agnostic to the network equipment, then you've actually got something pretty tight & useful... For Westeros & White Walkers alike, by the way...

As for whether overlays are doomed in the long run, lets check back in the long run. Other overlay approaches took a while to get right (VPNs), but have withstood the test of time pretty nicely.  

Underlays & overlays aside, and perhaps more fundamentally, there are 2 basic models for the cloud: The "DIY" model & the "shrink-wrapped" model. They each have merit and will co-exist, serving different needs with different economics & different tradeoffs. Some of the world's largest enterprises indeed do and will deploy both, for different reasons. What remains common, though, is that you want to be able to abstract network capabilities (what the network can do for the application) from how the network does it, and make that all policy-driven and instantaneous.

If you do, then "loosey-goosey" starts to turn "righty-tighty"...

Thanks Mitch!

houman

@modarres
sam masud
50%
50%
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/7/2014 | 4:33:34 PM
Re: Seems relevant
FakeMitchWagner:


I keep hearing that the payoff with SDN will be lower opex, but given that SDN is the ITization of the network, are we in fact saying opex will be COMPARATIVELY lower with implementation of SDN (as opposed trying to do the same thing with traditional networks--e.g. service chaining)?
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/6/2014 | 6:18:00 PM
Re: Seems relevant
I don't see intelligence residing in the switch or controller as an either/or, but rather a spectrum. 

For the encroachment of IT into telco, how about "datacentrification?"
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/6/2014 | 6:16:00 PM
Re: The Three Faces of SDN
Yes, if SDN does take off we can expect to see it on new areas, while legacy networks continue to be maintained. As long as something is working and fit for purpose there's no sense ripping it out and replacing, even if the new thing is better. 
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
More Blogs from Column
Time is your biggest asset if you use it to get you where you want to go.
The use of drone technology is changing the game for wireless operators, argues AUVSI's Brian Wynne.
Sometimes your day job has to come before championing the women in tech cause, but that can be equally as beneficial, inspirational and productive.
As a month-long, multi-city, 12-hour/day, multi-time zone, multi-device extravaganza, the NCAA basketball tournament poses unique streaming video challenges.
As the 3GPP agrees on plan to accelerate 5G NR -- the global 5G standard -- for 2019 deployments, a Qualcomm VP walks us through the reasons why.
From The Founder
Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Turkcell Challenges Turkey's Current TV Market

3|29|17   |     |   (0) comments


Baris Zavaroglu, TV and rntertainment business director of Turkcell, explains Turkcell's strategy in elevating the small and uncertain TV market in Turkey.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Altibox’s Infrastructure Synergy Strategy Reduces Deployment Costs

3|29|17   |     |   (0) comments


Thomas Skjelbred, CEO of Altibox, on how to improve efficiency and reduce deployment coast through infrastructure synergy in Norway.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Ismail Butun on the Changing Role of Turkcell

3|29|17   |     |   (0) comments


Ismail Butun, chief marketing officer of Turkcell, explains the importance of video and mobile services for the future of the company.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
IDC's Emir Halilovic on Trends of Cloudification

3|29|17   |     |   (0) comments


Emir Halilovic of IDC CEMA discusses the future and direction of cloudification. Also, the all-cloud approach taken by Huawei and others in the industry.
LRTV Custom TV
How Intel Is Powering the 5G Era

3|29|17   |     |   (0) comments


Light Reading tours a series of 5G "super demos" so see how Intel envisions the 5G-connected future. We take a look at a prototype connected BMW, a light pole with environmental sensors that provides 5G wireless to a smart home and a fully untethered virtual reality experience.
LRTV Custom TV
Source Photonics CEO Doug Wright Talks About the Future of Source Photonics

3|29|17   |     |   (0) comments


Source Photonics' CEO, Doug Wright, talks to Light Reading about how the company is continuously investing in its operations to meet not only its customers' current technology demands but also to deliver their next-generation technology needs.
LRTV Custom TV
Live Demo: DevOps in Service Chains & 5G Network Slices PoC

3|29|17   |     |   (0) comments


Executives from PoC collaborating companies – Patrick Waldemar, VP and Head of Technology at Telenor Research, John Healy, VP of the Datacenter Network Solutions Group at Intel, Vincent Spinelli, SVP of Global Sales and Marketing at RIFT.io, Mats Eriksson, CEO and co-founder of Arctos Labs, and Mats Nordlund, CEO and co-founder of Netrounds – review ...
LRTV Documentaries
The Year of Fat & Skinny Bundles

3|29|17   |   21:06   |   (0) comments


In this fireside chat, Roku's Andrew Ferrone predicts that 2017 will be the year of multichannel OTT video bundles and spells out other trends in the OTT and pay-TV markets.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
BBWF 2016: Orange Poland's Next-Gen Central Office

3|28|17   |     |   (0) comments


Introduction to Orange Poland's legacy next-generation central office solution.
LRTV Custom TV
Viavi at OFC 2017

3|28|17   |   4:15   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's Editor-in-Chief Craig Matsumoto reports from the Viavi booth at OFC and gets an update on the 400G testing market from Tom Fawcett, VP and GM of LAB & Production. At this year's event, Viavi won three awards from Lightwave magazine and showcased an interoperability demo with Ethernet Alliance and Finisar.
LRTV Custom TV
Connecting the Entire Home With DOCSIS 3.1

3|28|17   |   3:58:   |   (0) comments


Hitron Technologies had the first cable modem certified for DOCSIS 3.1 and already has over 120,000 units in the field. Greg Fisher, CTO of Hitron, provides an update on his company's rollout of new gateways and why he thinks DOCSIS 3.1 will continue to drive value for operators into 2017 and beyond.
LRTV Interviews
Amazon Prime's Hand of God Creator on Producing for OTT

3|28|17   |     |   (1) comment


Ben Watkins is the creator, writer and producer of Hand of God, a series on Amazon Prime. At Light Reading's Cable Next-Gen conference in Denver, he explained the advantages of producing for an OTT platform versus traditional TV.
Upcoming Live Events
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Austin Convention Center - Austin, TX
June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
FTTH No Slam Dunk for Cable
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/23/2017
Unlocking China's $194B Telecom Market
Robert Clark, 3/27/2017
Ericsson Tightens Focus, Warns of $1.7B Q1 Hit
Iain Morris, News Editor, 3/28/2017
WiCipedia: Supergirls, No More Excuses & Media Monitoring
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 3/24/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
At MWC 2017, Qualcomm's CTO Matt Grob talks to Light Reading's CEO and Founder Steve Saunders about the progress being made in the development of the technologies and standards that will underpin 5G.
Animals with Phones
Working From Home Doesn't Work for Everyone Click Here
You shouldn't nap on your keyboard, for instance.
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.