What’s the true meaning of SDN? Early May 2013, at Interop Las Vegas, experts gathered for an all-day SDN workshop, moderated by Jim Metzler (vice president at Ashton, Metzler & Associates), who discussed the exact SDN and the SDN problems that must be aired and addressed before users can invest.
There are five points about SDN that Metzler outlined:
- SDN’s key characteristics include programmability; automation; and centralization of control, configuration and policy management, Metzler said. But beyond understanding the basic point of SDN, users must define the problem they want to solve before investing in the technology. “IT organizations don’t want SDN,” he explained. “They want new ways to find value.” That’s the context in which SDN must be considered.
- On the flip side, inhibitors to SDN include its lack of compelling use or business cases, and immature vendor strategies. The immaturity of current products only furthers the problem, Metzler said. He also pointed out what he deemed a newly coined term: “SDN washing,” which he defined as when “a vendor re-labels its legacy products and services with SDN-based vocabulary.”
- There are a number of points that organizations considering SDN should keep in mind, including whether a vendor offers OpenFlow support and what apps or services are supported by the SDN architecture. It’s also important to consider whether there’s an ecosystem of partners that can supply applications, and whether those apps have been tested. “Determine new challenges you have, and how you can incorporate solutions into new processes,” Metzler said.
- Metzler touched on some issues surrounding the OpenDaylight Project, including the fact that “some of these folks [involved] don’t like each other” He referred to the consortium members that are direct competitors and have an interest in promoting their own technology strategies. The issue going forward for everyone involved in this open source solution, he said, is determining who controls what. “Many are asking ‘Why OpenDaylight?'” he said. “Was ONF not enough? OpenDaylight is about open source implementation of an SDN control layer.”
- Organizations may run into management problem, Metzler said in closing. “Organizations need to eliminate existing management stovepipes and avoid creating new ones,” he said. “They need to be able to extend existing management tools and processes, and add new tools and modify processes only as necessary.” Four or five years from now, he added, SDN can eliminate 95% of provisioning work–“if you believe the promise.”
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