Nav Chander, analyst at IDC, will moderate a panel with members from the OpenDaylight Advisory Group
As SDN moves from the lab to production, what are the key use cases you’re hearing about?
This is a great question because there are more and more examples that I hear about when I speak with enterprises or CSPs, yet many are reluctant to talk publicly about their deployments. There are several interesting ones that come to mind…
- Enterprise data center connect-as-a-service: NTT Communications’ Enterprise Cloud currently uses SDN/OpenFlow within and among 15 cloud-resident data centers in 12 countries. NTT Com uses software-defined networking (SDN) for faster network provisioning and configuration than that allowed by manual/semi-automated proprietary systems, lowering costs and reducing human error. The OpenFlow protocol has proved useful in helping customers configure VPNs, and a shift to SDN technology would offer greater flexibility to enterprise clouds, including the ability to accelerate business expansion while reducing workloads.
- Optical transport and SDN: Pacnet’s PEN (now part of Telstra) is an SDN platform supporting on-demand bandwidth delivery via its customer portal or simple public application programming interface (API). Pacnet extends network virtualization to the subsea transport network, enabling high-speed capacity provisioning and automated fault restoration across its network systems. On-demand provisioning of network services up to 100G includes network functions virtualization (NFV) tools on the company’s privately owned trans-Pacific and intra-Asia submarine network systems. The PEN platform also delivers automated connectivity to external private and public cloud providers.
- Enterprise multiservice use case using a vCPE: This is becoming one of the most popular NFV use cases and is benefiting from the implementation of SDN. COLT is an example of a CSP that has successfully scaled large, router-based services using an SDN controller and orchestration platform across a mix of vendors’ network equipment to enable scalable Ethernet, VPN, and other NFV services.
What are the remaining hurdles for service providers looking to adopt SDN and NFV?
There are many hurdles to overcome, pursuant to virtualization of the network and technologies involving SDN and NFV. Most of the serious challenges that CSPs are facing relate to their own organizational structures, work cultures, and readiness to embrace change. CSPs will have to change their organizations from monolithic functional silos to project-oriented teams that are more agile, combining cross-functional network/IT/ops skills that serve to automate the service delivery and responsiveness to customers. CSPs require executive management support to encourage individuals to be less risk averse – to learn and use more open-source, new programming languages, and open platforms – and to create a culture of DevOps that many enterprises, Web 2.0 companies, and cloud providers are already employing.
What is the key role for open-source?
Open-source plays a key role in enabling CSPs to decouple their legacy network applications, proprietary operating systems, and vendor-specific network infrastructures to be more hardware agnostic and reduce typical service cycles from a year or two to several months. The use of open-source coupled with programmability of software will allow CSPs to pick and choose the best-of-breed software platforms, partner with open-source vendors, and accelerate the development of new services. This is similar to what the IT community has seen with the widespread adoption of Linux in core IT infrastructure and its success during the past 11 years. It is a community-driven culture that also enables vendors, CSPs, and enterprises to contribute software code to reduce time-to-market for new services.
What about the evolving relationships among standards, open-source, and vendors?
Standards and vendors have always been an integral part of the networking landscape. Standards bodies such as the ITU, IETF, 3GPP, and a host of others have contributed to the telecom evolution from TDM to IP to mobile over the past three decades. With the widespread adoption of cloud and virtualized services, CSPs are embracing NFV and SDN initiatives, and the rise of open-source as an opportunity to refashion their service delivery and network architectures.
What new technology or trend in the networking space are you most curious about and why?
There are two areas that interest me. One is the use of Docker containers. This is becoming a hot trend in the server and data center worlds, and it may have applicability to support and on-board VNF and future NFV-enabled services rapidly and enable CSPs to further leverage open-source.
My second area of interest is autonomics, or self-learning networks that use past behaviors and patterns to learn and adapt to network usage and application requirements – like, for example, the Nest thermostat. This is another area where open-source may play a key role.
Please give us a short description of what we can expect from your panel at OpenDaylight Summit in July.
I am looking forward to this dynamic group of panelists that are leading the change in our industry. I hope to stimulate a discussion of key SDN and NFV use cases in various sectors and what they’d like to see from open-source SDN solutions in the short and long term and the role OpenDaylight will play. I will provoke some controversy and ask the panelists to think about vendors and their future relationship with CSPs: as partner or supplier, co-development or DevOps? Does the data center become the “new” central office or PoP? It should be fun.