DENVER -- Light Reading Carrier SDN Networks -- With SDN, product guys are from Mars, network guys are from Venus.
Kicking off the one-day conference here Tuesday, Heavy Reading analyst Sterling Perrin described the tension between product and network organization demands when implementing SDN.
The networking organization is concerned with reducing capex and opex, maintaining distributed equipment, automating network interactions for efficiency, reducing energy use and achieving interoperability across layers and vendors.
Product teams, on the other hand, want new products and features only feasible with SDN, Perrin said. They want to reach new customers, faster upgrade cycles for hardware and software components and faster application and service creation and deployment.
"The product guys' types of priorities are fast-tracked," Perrin said. "If it's something that ties more quickly into revenue, that's fast-tracked and getting the attention of the C-level executives." Network teams' priorities are also important, but "secondary in many cases."
Perrin also looked at defining terms. Early on in the days of SDN, advocates talked about enterprise, data center and campus customers. But service providers have different needs -- related, but different.
The classic definition of SDN is that it separates the control plane from the forwarding plane, Perrin said. That's a simple definition -- too simple. It's specific to OpenFlow, and may describe SDN in the data center but not the broader and more diverse world of carrier SDN.
Heavy Reading's SDN definition is more complex, and includes software programmability, a multi-element or global network view, application-centric capabilities, network layer abstraction and software openness, Perrin said.
NFV, as envisioned by ETSI, is "distinct but complementary" to SDN. They're separate, but carriers are implementing them together and the definitions blur.
"The world would be simpler if SDN and OpenFlow were synonymous," Perrin said. "But OpenFlow doesn't solve carrier problems." To meet those needs, carriers face a plethora of standards -- Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) calls it the "growing SDN ocean of protocols."
"Our sense is that operators are fairly frustrated by this situation, even though to a degree they created it by going after all these technologies," Perrin said.