Despite OpenFlow’s Promises, Switch Architecture Still Matters

Mike Spanbauer
Mike Spanbauer

Summary Bullets:

  • In the race to get OpenFlow and SDN onto new networking RFPs, enterprises must remember that controlling flow-based traffic patterns will serve to address a couple of weaknesses of networks past; however, edge-to-edge switching latency, performance, and more remain crucial.
  • For the first two to three years, as enterprises prove OpenFlow and early SDN technologies within their environments (and to themselves), the prevalent model will be a hybrid one, in which a vendor’s high-speed fabric and flow control run concurrently on a device (Cisco, Brocade, Juniper, Arista, etc.).

I find it amusing that the OpenFlow discussion has polarized pockets of the IT industry so completely.  It is a great innovation, absolutely, and it will address certain limitations and free up otherwise locked networking resources.  However, you get the sense that any given author of one of these articles is slightly biased to applications, servers, or networks.  The application purist who consumes all resources for the purpose of application architecture wishes to remove inhibitive deployment times from the infrastructure and therefore does not focus on the minutia of each domain’s critical factors.  The server teams have long sought to enable their own domain constituency to deploy high-speed interconnect between adjacent servers; in fact, several technologies exist from the biggest server vendors to provide for just such an answer.  The network team members, who have found themselves thrust into the infrastructure limelight due to the efficiencies to be gained, struggle with this newfound stardom and the education that they must gain in order to elevate all of the network attribute qualities for which they are responsible.  Many enterprise IT buyers who are writing RFPs are in the process of adding (or have already added) some flavor of SDN language to the mix, which is good, but there is merit in having the discipline expertise contribute to the RFP itself.  Server administrators are the best at defining the understanding memory riser architectures and how best to deal with firmware ‘fun’ on their platforms, while network administrators are best suited to defining the wired architecture and intricacies and application guys can best address acceleration needs and OSI 4-7.  OpenFlow and SDN are amazing, but fundamental architecture needs remain. Continue reading “Despite OpenFlow’s Promises, Switch Architecture Still Matters”

Interop 2012: Virtualize, Mobilize, Exercise (Bring Walking Shoes)

M. Spanbauer
M. Spanbauer

Summary Bullets:

  • Interop 2012 promises to be larger than the 2011 show, a good sign of enterprise interest and investment in network technologies.
  • Mobility, virtualization, fabrics, and cloud services will dominate much of the discussion surrounding the trade show.

With the 2012 Las Vegas Interop just over a week away, inquiries and invitations have been flooding in.  From wireless to fabrics to virtualization and everything cloud-related, there is a great deal of energy and excitement around enterprise challenges and how best to address them (with a great deal of differentiation between offerings).  UBM has brought together a compelling track list and the open sessions are almost certain to be full every day, so get registered and get to the rooms early to ensure a seat.  Last year, many popular sessions were standing room only, and this year is almost certain to command similar audiences.  Virtualization challenges, evolving management platforms, and vendor interoperability will be key for data center-centric pitches, while most campus and organizational issues touch upon consumerized IT and the host of challenges around BYOD. Continue reading “Interop 2012: Virtualize, Mobilize, Exercise (Bring Walking Shoes)”