One of the biggest benefits of new networking technologies is their promise to “open” the network up — to support more programmability, orchestration, and innovation. So, it’s not a surprise that “open” always comes up when discussing software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). But what does “open SDN” or “open NFV” really mean?
- Is it about consolidating on “open” standards?
- Is it leveraging “open” source solutions?
- Is it creating “open” application programming interfaces?
- Is it ensuring a solution is “open” to interoperate within any environment?
In a lot of ways, it is all of these things, which is why “open SDN” can be such a powerful and meaningless term at the same time. To get some clarity around it from a vendor’s perspective, I recently sat down with Kelly Herrell, the VP and general manager of Brocade’s software networking business unit, and asked him what he thought “open” meant.
“In general, I think what you are trying to capture with openness is the concept of interchangeability,” said Herrell. “It’s really important given the great separation, with all the different components, we are seeing now. It gives customers the flexibility to mix and match and select best-of-breed for whatever their application requirement is.”
In this fireside chat video, Herrell acknowledges there are many ways to get there. It may require an adherence to standards, working with open-source solutions, and/or the ability to create interfaces that allow organizations to easily develop custom services and applications. The foundational element, however, is interoperability, up and down the stack; ensuring each and every piece can work with one another, regardless of which vendor it comes from, will be critical for the industry to flourish.
Herrell encourages customers to understand what “open SDN” means to different vendors. “An attempt to look open, when in fact you are only partially open, and actually holding back some of the better stuff just for your equipment,” he warns, is not going to be in the best interests of the entire networking ecosystem.
He points out that the beauty of what we are seeing now in the industry is that vendors are starting to be held accountable to open-source tenets. We are seeing “peer review, transparency, and meritocracy coming into play,” which will help push the envelope and ensure vendors are more responsible.
He goes on to articulate what customers can look for from their vendors and how they can get started. There are several good insights and tips, so I encourage you to watch the video below:
To continue this video interview series with Kelly Herrell, check out part 1 where Kelly covers the top 3 trends in SDN and NFV today.