Posts Tagged ‘SDN’

The concept of “software defined networks” (SDNs) has become all the rage in networking over the past year or so. Now, I do believe that the “mouthshare” for SDNs far exceeds the amount of money being spent on it, but it’s clear, from the inquiries I get from network managers trying to understand what SDNs are and if they’re applicable for their organizations, that SDNs will be here to stay for the foreseeable future.

The majority of the SDN push has been by startups, such as Arista, Nicera and Big Switch or lesser-known network vendors like NEC, but this week, the high-performance network specialist Brocade unveiled its SDN strategy, making it the first mainstream vendor to give product-level details of its SDN plans. Back in June of 2010, Brocade was the first traditional network vendor to publicly announce support for OpenFlow and SDN, so its product announcements show consistency with this strategy.

In the movie “Back to the Future,” Dr. Emmit Brown built a Delorean-based time machine that when the “flux capacitor” was powered with 1.21 gigawatts (pronounced jig-a-watts in the movie), it would allow someone to go back in time (or ahead). I just got back from this year’s Interop conference and it started me thinking about the past. So let’s set the old time machine to the spring of 1995 and we’ll attend an Interop conference. Remember those days?

If you can recall the really old days of Interop, the pre-Vegas days when the event was held in D.C., the purpose of Interop was actually network interoperability. During those days interoperability in the network was a huge problem as there were many competing protocols, such as Banyan-Vines, AppleTalk, IPX and a host of other network protocols. Additionally, there were many different connection types such as FDDI, CDDI, Token Ring and the like. So buyers went to the show to figure out what worked with what and how to actually a build a network. The John Chambers proclamation that everything would move to IP seemed a bit far-fetched and Interop was in its heyday.

In theory, software defined networks (SDN) are this generation’s next “big thing” in networking. The promise of SDNs is to decouple the tight linkage between the physical infrastructure and the software running the network. This can help cloud providers manage their networks better, allow for true multi-tenant networking and aid in the movement of virtual machines. It’s so hot right now that almost every mainstream network vendor has an SDN strategy, as has given rise to many startups.



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