- Enterprises struggle with whether a programmatic networks is a developer concept, a networking concept or both
- The long term success of SDN will eventually depend on solutions being simple to integrate across multi-vendor environments
At the Open Networking Summit this week in Santa Clara, the largest SDN conference and marquee event for the Open Networking Foundation, the leading SDN standards body, it is not lost on this attendee that the event is concurrent with the OpenStack event, a parallel standards body that also fosters open initiatives and technology (though on compute and the software stack vs. networking and the L1-3 services stack). It is ironic that while this particular conflict was not intentional, it does represent the challenge faced by enterprises who are seeking to incorporate more “open” technologies into their ecosystem. The question is whether to pursue the early adoption path as is the case with SDN and several solutions which are more coding than CLI configured today, or to wait for the fully “baked” solutions expected to arrive in the future. The skill sets, staffing challenges, and operational paradigm for each radically differ. Where one is often sought for a solution that cannot be accomplished by other means, the other is more focused on resource optimization, solution maintenance, and minimized disruption. (While not necessarily technical interruption, introducing a new technology such as SDN is highly disruptive to people and processes at minimum.)
One of the attributes that I feel will signal that SDN has truly arrived as a production class alternative or proposal to existing architectures is whether it can be quickly and easily deployed by operation techs vs. developers. The distinguishing characteristics being rapid deployment, hardened software and system resilience, and perhaps most notably these powerful APIs being hidden away or suppressed behind a configuration overlay or management solution. There are many promising vendor solutions that have been demonstrated here at ONS, and I see a bright future for the SDN marketplace, but we’re still in the early stages and only taking the first few steps. Were you there? Do you see market adoption radically accelerating this year?