The Legend of SDN: One Controller to Rule Them All

I originally posted this just over a year ago (Feb 5, 2013) on my corporate blog. I’m reposting here now because the subject of “master controllers” and federation is coming up again more insistently as users begin to think through how to implement a controller-based architecture. I expect to be writing more on this soon.

As we enter the second(ish) Year of SDN, we’ve gone from irrational exuberance to some semblance of reality, with some first-generation products starting to come to market now. That will inevitably drive more reality, on the user side, but an embrace of reality may take a bit longer on the vendor side. I say that because there are still plenty of “whoever wins the controller wars wins all” notions being promulgated in various forums. Continue reading

Communities of the Faithful

This wound up being Part I of a five-part series. Read the next post here.

Back in December, a friend and I were sitting around shooting the breeze about orchestration and automation, because what else would you talk about on a Saturday afternoon? The talk turned to the political challenges of developing cross-platform tools, and then to innovation more generally. My friend, who has a certain fondness for bombast, demanded at this point, “Why do vendors who have done basically no innovation for years continue to have such intense customer loyalty, while newer companies with actual solutions to the problems the big guys have created struggle to survive?”

Leaving aside the obvious bit about people having natural reservations about ongoing support from a vendor struggling to survive, we concluded that incumbent advantage has at least as much to do with the personal, emotional value that users derive from their association with a particular vendor rather than anything that can be put on a spreadsheet.

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Notes from ONS 2014 Day 0: SDN Market Opportunities Tutorial

Yes, I’m crazy enough to get up early on a Sunday to go to an SDN conference. I won’t say that there was a lot of “new news” in this session yesterday, but it certainly validated a number of hypotheses. I wound up taking many pages of notes even so, and I’ll summarize the main themes and highlights here.

Open Source and Standards Bodies

While it shouldn’t be a surprise at the Open Networking Summit to hear attendees and speakers beat the open source drum, it was interesting how completely dismissive of traditional vendor implementations most of the speakers were. Prodip Sen of Verizon, also Chair of the ETSI NFV group, commented matter-of-factly,

“Open source is the new standards body. Equipment manufacturers need to build openness, interoperability and modularity into their products. We’re not interested in vertically integrated stacks—that day is gone.”

I could caveat that by noting that even the “enterprise” speakers (from Ebay/Paypal) were rather Web 2.0-flavored and so not completely representative of the broad mass of non-tech enterprises and their needs, but the general direction is pretty unmistakable.

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