Reprinted with permission from Nokia’s Nuage Networks blog
Post-traumatic SDN? Read on…
On a bright spring day just three years back we found ourselves in Portland, at the rapidly growing OpenStack Summit. The Open Networking User Group (ONUG) had also just been formed, an organization that would grow just as rapidly in its appeal and influence. Open was the way, and the game was on. “I don’t care that it’s SDN. I care only if it solves my problem in an open way,” asserted one of the pioneers of the ONUG community repeatedly as wave after wave of “SDN-washing” rippled around him. The industry was certainly on to something, striving to make quanta of networking as easy to consume and manipulate as compute and storage had become. But as in most new technologies, early over-exuberance had some unintended consequences. “PTSDN”, an affliction that arises from persistent overexposure to generic SDN lingo and causes a range of adverse allergic reactions, kicked in even as good work by technologists continued for several years.
Now, fast forward three years and we can see some light at the end of the tunnel. The premise of the technology shift to programmable open networks that abstract complexity and act on policy-driven intent independent of the underlying infrastructure was strong enough to persevere. SDN-washing has subsided, replaced by a focus on a modest but growing number of key use cases and deployment models. Operationalization has indeed proven to be the cure for overcoming PTSDN. Whether in network overlays that span throughout and across datacenters, SD-WAN implementations that eliminate configuration complexity and accelerate turn-up and changes at remote sites, or in hybrid cloud scenarios where an enterprise’s DC infrastructure is securely and transparently augmented by public cloud resources using common policy, companies are adopting and deploying technology to address real IT challenges. Containers have been the talk of the town of late, and with most enterprises sporting a mix of VMs, containers and legacy apps running on bare metal, the flexibility to apply consistent policy across all instantiations of apps is paramount. ONUG, representing a cadre of industry leaders in several key verticals, has paved the way with workgroups active in each of these areas, as well as network visibility, security, federation and operational tools.
As Mark Shuttleworth said recently, we have reached “the end of the beginning” in this journey of open cloud networking. But we have a long way to go. As of just a few months ago, an astounding 97% of the ONUG community still believes that their networks are largely closed. As the technology and organizations like ONUG that nurture it mature, the challenges before us shift to an operational nature. Driving the community of technologists to preserve the tenets of our mission while perfecting the deployment and operations of open networks are critical to continued success in the next phase of this journey. The good news is that enterprises are already banking on and betting on the real SDN for their DevOps environments and IT network infrastructure, as evidenced by the likes of Betfair/PaddyPower, BBVA, Barclays and others in the ONUG community.
To have thought that day in Portland that an infrastructure supporting 100M+ transactions a day (20x the NYSE volume) with over 3 Billion API calls would be leveraging programmable SDN networks would’ve gotten chuckles. Today, it’s true!
I only wonder what we will think of our current discussions three years from now. I can’t wait to find out.
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* PTSDN (Post-Traumatic Software Defined Networking): An affliction that occurs from persistent overexposure to generic SDN lingo, causing a range of adverse allergic reactions to further discussion