Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Pat Romanski, Patrick Hubbard, Elizabeth White, Sven Olav Lund, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, @BigDataExpo

SDN Journal: Article

The Reality vs. the Hype – The Truth About Software-Defined Networking

SDN began at places like Stanford and Berkeley as a way to build research networks using overlay

As the proliferation of data continues, traditional networking infrastructure is struggling to keep up with the world's influx of information and data. Legacy networking technologies are in need of an overhaul and software-defined networking (SDN) has been touted as the response and the next big thing in virtual networking. Many IT managers already have the flexibility, scalability and automation capabilities of virtualized servers and storage, and want the same attributes in their networks. As businesses enter the second half of 2013, CIOs and CTOs can attest to the serious hype around SDN as the new go-to solution. Many companies - from Arista, VMware (Nicera) to Cisco - have jumped on the bandwagon with their recently developed SDN products and technology roadmaps.

But with every "crash diet" or technology craze, there are still pointed questions that need to be asked: Is this just the latest hype - or are we in a new "networking" reality?

The Most Obvious: Why Now?
SDN began at places like Stanford and Berkeley as a way to build research networks using overlay. In basic terms, SDN is conventionally talked about as an approach to networking where control is decoupled from hardware and given to a software application called a controller. But the main business driver is the need for automation, flexibility and scale as well as the frustration with command-line interfaces and the need to touch hundreds - if not thousands - of boxes and devices to roll out applications and provision services.

Global enterprises are expressing a true and real interest in SDN solutions. The promise is more affordable, simpler, programmable, interoperable automation of service chains and provisioning. Most recently, Google went public with its description of its SDN WAN build out, helping the company to improve networking manageability, lower costs and to share its data among the tens of thousands of data centers the company currently operates. Now that Google has entered the ring, service providers, Web 2.0 companies and select Fortune 500 enterprises are beginning to test the waters.

The Hype: Key Challenges Businesses Face Now
Some may argue that our world has seen quite a few tech trends that were more hype than help. Going from proof of concept (POC) testing to fully operational networks might take customers two to three years. One limitation of SDN solutions today is that they are switch-centric and don't extend to the server endpoints, let alone the host application interface. If the SDN hype continues, enterprises can expect to see interest in "extending technologies" or products that are capable of extending an SDN control plane from the edge switch through the application interface. Open source user level networking solutions that are available today, such as OpenOnload, already provide applications with direct access to the network and an open control plane, enabling some truly unique capabilities in an SDN solution.

The Reality: What Is Being Done Today?
There is more to SDNs than OpenFlow but many startups are working on OpenFlow solutions. OpenFlow is a communications protocol that provides access to the forwarding plane of a network switch or router over the network. Put simply, OpenFlow allows the path of network packets through the network of switches to be determined by software. Architects behind SDN, from Stanford and various Web 2.0 companies, established the Open Networking Foundation to transform networking through the development and standardization of SDN.

If CIOs and CTOs want to see a world where the SDN lives up to the current hype, a focus on open technologies is critical. To mix metaphors, the brave new world of SDN will not be created in seven days and can only come into existence based on robust, open standards. OpenFlow-enabled networks are only a subset of SDNs. Yet arguably the first step toward building an SDN near term is to deploy OpenFlow-enabled devices. For example, Google used switches based on merchant silicon and software based on the OpenFlow specification.

Build for Today to Benefit Tomorrow
There are also several efforts underway to show the beef. Today, technology leaders at customers and research consortia in the U.S., Europe and Asia are beginning to evaluate vendors in order to build OpenFlow networks for test beds and POC testing. A key goal of these POCs is to demonstrate that a multivendor OpenFlow network can perform under typical business loads.

To put it simply, data center managers need to prove the performance of these software-defined networks to start building the transition to this "open" and brave new world.

More Stories By Bruce Tolley

Bruce Tolley, PhD, is Vice President, Solutions and Outbound Marketing, at Solarflare. Previously, he served as Solarflare's Vice President of Marketing, and earlier Director of Product Management. Prior to joining Solarflare, Tolley was a Senior Product Line Manager at Cisco Systems where he managed the Ethernet transceiver business, and launched Layer 2/3/4, Metro Ethernet, 10 Gigabit switches. Prior to Cisco, he served in various marketing management roles at 3Com Corporation.

Formerly Study Group Chair of the IEEE 802.3aq 10GBASE-LRM standards project, Tolley has been frequent contributor to the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standards projects. He holds a BA from UC Santa Cruz, MA from Stanford University, MBA from Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, and a PhD from Stanford University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
The session is centered around the tracing of systems on cloud using technologies like ebpf. The goal is to talk about what this technology is all about and what purpose it serves. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Shashank Jain, Development Architect at SAP, will touch upon concepts of observability in the cloud and also some of the challenges we have. Generally most cloud-based monitoring tools capture details at a very granular level. To troubleshoot problems this might not be good enough.
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busine...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
We all know that end users experience the Internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices – not doing so will be a path to eventual b...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
Transforming cloud-based data into a reportable format can be a very expensive, time-intensive and complex operation. As a SaaS platform with more than 30 million global users, Cornerstone OnDemand’s challenge was to create a scalable solution that would improve the time it took customers to access their user data. Our Real-Time Data Warehouse (RTDW) process vastly reduced data time-to-availability from 24 hours to just 10 minutes. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Mark Goldin, Chief Technolo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
In the fast-paced advances and popularity in cloud technology, one of the most critical factors revolves around concerns for security of your critical data. How to assure both your company and your customers they can confidently trust and utilize your cloud environment is most often top on the list. There is a method to evaluating and providing security that exceeds conventional modes of protecting data both within the cloud as well externally on mobile and other devices. With the public failure...
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, will provide a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. Together we will solve a machine learning problem and find an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intellige...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
As popularity of the smart home is growing and continues to go mainstream, technological factors play a greater role. The IoT protocol houses the interoperability battery consumption, security, and configuration of a smart home device, and it can be difficult for companies to choose the right kind for their product. For both DIY and professionally installed smart homes, developers need to consider each of these elements for their product to be successful in the market and current smart homes.
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.