Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Daniel Gordon, John Walsh, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Sven Olav Lund

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

SDN, Network Packaging, and Separation of Control and Forwarding

SDN needs to be about moving from knob-based behavior specification to something that is more automatable

It’s not clear to me whether there is really a conclusion to a technology trend. I suppose that one trend begets another and that morphs into another. So in some sense, discussing the SDN end game is really foolish. It seems most likely that we all stop talking about SDN in another year, maybe two, and the conversation returns to networking. Or data centers, or the WAN, or whatever. And then eventually we talk about IT infrastructure, because it will ultimately become so integrated that calling out isolated elements will seem old-fashioned.

That said, let’s talk about the SDN end game a little…

For many, SDN is about separating the control and forwarding planes. I’ll just point out that these planes have been separate for years in most modern networking equipment. That they might no longer be distributed within the same sheet metal is interesting but not really that game changing. I don’t mean to suggest that there is not value in changing the packaging (a la what Cumulus is doing), but there is nothing inherently good or bad about packaging. The Cumulus value proposition (as it relates to physical equipment costs) is that they will charge less for the software than the big guys have been so far. [Lest this be perceived as a slight, I believe this to be a valuable thing to do. I like what these guys are doing, and how they are doing it is very crafty.]

The big players already skew their R&D costs towards software. That they capture dollars via the hardware simply reflects the buying culture. Imagine that all the major equipment vendors dropped their hardware prices are started charging more for software (which is typically free or discounted to zero in a normal purchase). The difference between Cumulus and the rest would be that Cumulus is charging less for the software.

Part of this is because there is less software there. If we are honest, part of Cisco’s pricing premiums are tied to the 47 thousand features that come with an IOS (or IOS-XE, or CatOS, or whatever) device. So long as those features are important to you, you have to pay the premium because there is only one vendor in the world who has them. Again, this doesn’t make Cisco inherently good or evil – it just means they have priced their product according to demand.

What is really happening with SDN (and with Cumulus in particular) is that people are contemplating for the first time in a very long time new architectures. Those new architectures are somewhat less dependent on the history of networking features. To a large extent, the industry is going on a feature diet. The result is that there are now more commercial options because the foundational feature set is both smaller and different.

If the feature set is smaller, the premium that people are willing to pay is lower. And for companies building from scratch, the effort (read: development cost) is lower. They can charge less and still be whole. When you add in more mature open source options for what have typically been the networking staples (routing protocols, for instance), the barrier to entry for new networking solutions has never been lower.

Oddly enough, the biggest thing standing between customers and lower prices in this case is the customers themselves. Those that are willing to adopt a new Ground Zero for feature completeness will essentially create more choice and flexibility for themselves. They can use that, in part, to get better pricing advantages.

Note that none of this has anything to do with whether the control plane runs on an x86 inside the sheet metal or outside. That’s just a distraction.

So if SDN isn’t about the packaging, what is it about? There are a hundred thousand definitions, but the real pain point being addressed is work flow. The reason the network is so difficult to manage is because it relies on pinpoint precision on a box-by-box basis. Fine-grained control over the policy that drives network behavior is extremely powerful, but that power comes at a cost.

For most people, the choice between power and ease of use was never really a conscious one. We were collectively sold on a set of reference architectures and best practices. In the early days, this was exactly what everyone needed. The problem is that inertia is ridiculously strong, and once the decision to manage through pinpoint, manual control was made, it was never really revisited. Customers demanded more precision (read: configuration knobs or protocol extensions), and this shaped the way the entire industry evolved. The price of admission into any network was a set of features. Only a few companies could provide these, and so the options remained few and the prices stayed high.

How do you combat this dynamic?

SDN needs to be about moving from knob-based behavior specification to something that is more automatable. The only way to be more automation-friendly is to be less device-specific, and that begs for abstraction. Once you abstract out the devices, the edge policy isn’t as tied to the underlying hardware. This means we can more easily separate the control and forwarding planes. Oddly enough, this means that the initial desire for SDN to be about separation is actually somewhat correct.

The problem with starting at that point, though, is that people miss a whole lot of the in-between stuff, and it’s those icky details that will ultimately determine success or failure for people pursuing a new way of doing things.

[Today's fun fact: When Albert Einstein died, his final words died with him. The nurse at his side didn't understand German. <Insert Der Wienerschnitzel joke here>]

The post SDN, network packaging, and separation of control and forwarding appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Michael Bushong

The best marketing efforts leverage deep technology understanding with a highly-approachable means of communicating. Plexxi's Vice President of Marketing Michael Bushong has acquired these skills having spent 12 years at Juniper Networks where he led product management, product strategy and product marketing organizations for Juniper's flagship operating system, Junos. Michael spent the last several years at Juniper leading their SDN efforts across both service provider and enterprise markets. Prior to Juniper, Michael spent time at database supplier Sybase, and ASIC design tool companies Synopsis and Magma Design Automation. Michael's undergraduate work at the University of California Berkeley in advanced fluid mechanics and heat transfer lend new meaning to the marketing phrase "This isn't rocket science."

@CloudExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"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.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
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...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
"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.
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.
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...
"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...
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.
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...
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...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"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...
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...