SDN Journal Authors: John Walsh, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Sven Olav Lund, Simon Hill

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security, @DXWorldExpo

SDN Journal: Article

SDN: Evolution to Special Purpose Clouds Challenges Traditional OSS/BSS

SDN illustrates that “cloud” is not just a vague bundle of computers and storage in the sky

In just a few short recent years the idea of software-defined networks (SDN) has moved from a theoretical academic concept to a real-life practical proposition for making the world's telecommunications networks more efficient, cost-effective, easier to manage and resilient. The SDN concept really started to take shape around 2008 [1], Google and Facebook have already implemented important features of SDN in their own networks. Now most major carriers are planning to move in the SDN direction, for example Deutsche Telekom [2, 3] and more recently AT&T [3] to reduce high operational costs while the over-the-top providers (e.g., Google, Amazon, etc.) impede the carriers' ability to grow their revenues.

Put simply, the SDN idea is to separate out the control functions of the network into a cloud-like management layer leaving network elements in a data-forwarding layer. This means the smart component of networks can be made more efficient and less expensive by making use of the concepts of abstraction, modularity and virtualization that are already common in the IT world. At the same time the basic network building blocks - essentially the bit-carrying hardware - can be less expensive because they will become simpler and dumber.

SDN is a great example of what we now call "cloud" computing: it illustrates that "cloud" is not just a vague bundle of computers and storage in the sky. We are moving towards the evolution of multiple special-purpose clouds, some with a very specific purpose aimed at the needs of a rather specialist user group. SDN will create exactly that.

SDN is another step forward in the ongoing process of turning traditional concepts inside out as we design rational new large-scale architectures that will deliver order-of-magnitude improvements in performance and cost-effectiveness.

I like to keep tabs on what's going on in the communications industry as these customers have been a proving ground for many new billing and compensation concepts we've implemented and deployed in the MetraTech platform. Comms was where we learned to handle millions of chargeable transactions per day. Comms was the sector that led the way in setting the challenge of slicing and dicing those millions of charges across complex multi-dimensional enterprise hierarchies. Comms insisted on being able to implement and bill for new services rather quickly - in minutes rather than weeks and months, please. Today we enjoy having communications companies as customers, but we serve enterprises across many other industries including financial services, cloud, transportation and concessions. Those other companies have benefited from the groundbreaking work in comms, which inevitably proves useful for other sectors before too long.

So people in all industries should be interested in what the communications industry are doing in SDN today, because those concepts, one way or another will ripple through to other industries too: finance, insurance, transportation, etc.

One of the cool things about the SDN revolution is that everyone seems to be on board already: everyone is going to be an early adopter, carriers and vendors too. Why so? Because everyone has realized already that traditional networks are running out of steam. It's not just traffic volumes that will become unmanageable with existing network architectures, but the increasing volatility in traffic patterns, driven by new apps, new business models, and the rapid rise (and sometimes decline) of new service providers.

The concept is evolving fast; the practicalities of making this work are now well understood. What's missing? No surprise here, as there is a pattern in the evolution of technology concepts that follows these steps: bright idea; architecture; technology building blocks; implementation plan; oops how do we charge for all this? Who will keep track? The end user gets the tangible benefits such as bandwidth on-demand made possible with SDN. While it is true that SDN is mostly under the covers (network level) and doesn't touch the user directly, it is key to delivering the end-to-end customer experience. In order to take advantage of the flexibility and manageability of SDN networks, the operational and billing support systems must be as flexible in how they manage and bill for services.

I've written before about how monetization is so often an afterthought in the process of technology innovation. We can moan about this, but it won't change the nature of the super-smart people caught up in the excitement of making all this stuff work. At MetraTech, we don't complain, because we have already taken this all-too-human characteristic into account. If you can define a billable event, and capture it, we can bill for it. Whatever it is.

SDN will open the portals to create network-borne services and bundles of services that in some cases no one has even thought of yet. It will also enable service mash-ups with multiple vendor contributions that must be tracked no matter how many or how small. It also raises the traditional telco concept of "interconnection" to an order of magnitude greater level of complexity. Those carriers who go down the SDN route early will need a billing and compensation system that is just as flexible, versatile and capable as the SDN architecture itself. It's going to be tough to re-purpose a traditional telecom, interconnect, or Internet services billing system to handle these new requirements.

What carriers will need is a truly service-agnostic system that can flexibly bill for any event that can be captured. Did I mention that MetraNet can already do this and that we've proven it across vertical industries? In Part 2 we'll explore Network Function Virtualization (NFV).

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=eXsCQdshMr4&t=168

[2] http://sdnworldevent.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/exclusive-interview-with-axel-clauberg-from-deutsche-telekom/

[3] http://www.pipelinepub.com/Innovation/DT_Terastream_deployment

[3] http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=24817&cdvn=news&newsarticleid=37013

- See more at: http://www.metratech.com/blog/2013/10/3/sdn-evolution-to-special-purpose...

More Stories By Esmeralda Swartz

Esmeralda Swartz is VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud, BUSS. She has spent 15 years as a marketing, product management, and business development technology executive bringing disruptive technologies and companies to market. Esmeralda was CMO of MetraTech, now part of Ericsson. At MetraTech, Esmeralda was responsible for go-to-market strategy and execution for enterprise and SaaS products, product management, business development and partner programs. Prior to MetraTech, Esmeralda was co-founder, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Lightwolf Technologies, a big data management startup. She was previously co-founder and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development of Soapstone Networks, a developer of resource and service control software, now part of Extreme Networks.

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
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
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...
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, addressed this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of the ...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but we do a lot more than just data management on-prem with the data centers of our customers. We're also big in the hybrid cloud," explained Wes Talbert, Principal Architect at NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"We're focused on how to get some of the attributes that you would expect from an Amazon, Azure, Google, and doing that on-prem. We believe today that you can actually get those types of things done with certain architectures available in the market today," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.