HPE has increased its investment in OpenDaylight significantly and recently announced its updated HPE OpenSDN controller (originally ContexNet from ConteXtream – a recent acquisition). SDxCentral sat down with Nachman Shelef, VP and GM of HPE OpenSDN, to dig deep into HPE’s new SDN strategy and and the details of its OpenSDN controller.
Nachman Shelef co-founded ConteXtream in 2006 and was acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) in 2015 and is part of HPE’s Communications Solutions Business. Prior to becoming CEO of ConteXtream he was a general partner of Benchmark Capital and a co-founder of the Benchmark Israel venture fund. Nachman’s background also includes founding and heading NiceCom, a company acquired by 3Com. Following the acquisition, he served as VP of Business Development as well as VP and GM of several 3Com organizations based in Santa Clara, Boston and Israel. He also served as a Member of the U.S. – Israel Science & Technology Commission and served on the Board of IVN – Israel Venture Network. He obtained his B.Sc. Summa cum Laude in computer engineering from the Technion, the Israeli Technology Institute.
Shelef: Yes, you are right. You should also note that HPE was into SDN way before the hype cycle even took off.
HPE VAN was the first HPE SDN product in the market. HPE VAN is still an active product that is targeted at Enterprise and Campus networks. The HPE VAN team works closely with our Aruba team and they are doing great things combining capabilities there. So, to answer your question, yes, HPE VAN is still an active product – aimed at campus and enterprise segment.
Then there is the HPE DCN. The DCN product, as the name suggests, was aimed at Datacenter Networking applications. DCN is targeted to large deployments with the requirement to easily deploy and manage multiple data centers, across private, public or hybrid data centers. Thus, the target segment for differs significantly from the HPE VAN. And yes, that is an active product too.
Last, but not the least, is the SDN portfolio we acquired from ConteXtream last year. For a while, it was called HPE ContexNet. We have now renamed the portfolio and it is currently being called HPE OpenSDN. The HPE OpenSDN Controller is based completely on the OpenDaylight project. With the HPE OpenSDN, we are focused squarely on the CSP (the Telco) market. The open credentials and the carrier-grade capabilities are highly desired attributes for that segment and that is what we are offering with HPE OpenSDN
With this new upcoming HPE OpenSDN portfolio, what does it mean for existing HPE customers who may have purchased and deployed your previous products? Are you differentiating between your enterprise and service provider customer offerings?
Shelef: HPE OpenSDN is the evolution of the HPE ContexNet controller & SDN solution. Existing HPE ContexNet customers will eventually move to the current version of HPE OpenSDN products. How and when that happens depends on the application they have deployed, the need for new features and a number of other criteria.
To answer your second question: yes, we are differentiating between our enterprise/campus offering and our Telco offering. So, the HPE OpenSDN will not have any impact on, for example, HPE VAN customers.
Is HPE still committed to OpenFlow? How do you envision HPE integrating its controllers with its networking equipment or with other vendors’ equipment? Will there be differences for your enterprise customers versus your service provider customers?
Shelef: Yes, HPE is absolutely committed to OpenFlow. We think that some of the capabilities that OpenFlow brings to the table are very crucial to really exploit the benefits of splitting the control plane and data plane. You also have to note here that there is another aspect to OpenFlow support as well: from a control perspective, it does not matter how committed we are to OpenFlow if the hardware/switching industry does not embrace it as well. Also, when it comes to a CSP network, you have to understand that OpenFlow is just one of many protocols that must co-exist in the huge installed base of networking gear in CSP networks. So, one of the most important Telco requirements for any SDN solution is the ability to manage a diverse, heterogeneous set of network elements. The OpenDaylight base of the HPE OpenSDN controller allows us to do just that. So, we can support multiple southbound network elements along with different orchestration and OSS systems via northbound interfaces and protocols.
Will HPE provide customers with solution installation and support for its HPE OpenSDN Controller? Will you provide custom app development and training? What kind of pricing model will you be adopting with this, given the open-source nature of ODL?
Shelef: Yes, we have and will continue to offer professional and support services to complement our OpenSDN products and solutions. Regarding custom app development and training: it depends on the needs of a particular carrier. The OpenDaylight approach is to have additional functionality available as applications or projects on the core controller. Where needed, we will work with our customers to develop new functionality as applications on the OpenSDN Controller – or support them in doing so themselves. Frankly, there are not a lot of “app stores”, or even app development platforms, that cater to CSPs deploying SDN. There is an idealistic notion that CSPs will open up their entire network infrastructure to “app developers”, but the fact is that there are a lot of concerns about opening up critical parts of the infrastructure. There is no doubt that such a move to offer up the network as a platform will drive innovation and we believe we will see some measured industry movement in this direction as CSPs get comfortable with the DevOps models. But we believe that is still a few years out.
Regarding the HPE OpenSDN Controller itself: we have structured the offer as a base controller plus value-added application packs. Our intention is to offer very flexible licensing models – perpetual or capacity-based – as well as software support upgrade/update options.
Why did HPE take so long to pick an open-source project instead of going in alone with your VAN and ContextNet efforts?
Shelef: VAN is HPE’s own development, but the ContexNet portfolio was always based on OpenDaylight. And as you know, ODL has been around only for three years now – so I would not say we took a lot of time to pick an open source project. In fact, HPE is a platinum-level member of the ODL project and our timing is aligned very well with the broad market acceptance for ODL based solutions. Meanwhile, VAN preceded many of the open source projects just emerging today.
What implications does this new controller have for your relationship with Nokia? How does this impact your HPE DCN product (OEM of Nokia’s Nuage Networks SDN and Network Virtualization suite)?
Shelef: HPE has always been about offering customers a choice of solutions. The HPE OpenSDN controller will not impact our relationship with Nokia. There are specific use cases and situations (e.g., MPLS integration support) that warrant offering HPE DCN as an SDN solution while other use cases and CSP requirements that point to an Open source-based solution like HPE OpenSDN. As noted previously, HPE DCN addresses a specific market segment. HPE OpenSDN is more oriented toward CSP customers committed to a DevOps model and those with a preference for Open Source-based solutions. Likewise, HPE DCN addresses the many customers who are methodically moving from a legacy model across multiple private, public or hybrid data centers.
Shelef: As you know, we have been talking about how CSPs need to embrace the notion of a Telco Cloud as they chart their path forward in their very competitive landscape. In a nutshell, Telco cloud is about the infrastructure being highly programmable, the operations being highly automated and the delivered services being highly personalized and consumable on-demand. HPE OpenSDN products and solutions are an integral part of the foundation architecture for Telco Cloud.
Although the HPE OpenSDN portfolio integrates with the HPE’s NFVI portfolio, that does not preclude OpenSDN from being deployed in other NFVI environments. Similarly, we have pre-tested solutions that are well-integrated with our NFV Director & Service Director products. But, again, it does not preclude HPE OpenSDN solutions from being integrated with other OSS systems to meet our customers’ needs.
How will HPE contribute to the ODL project going forward?
Shelef: We are very involved in the ODL project now and contribute in multiple areas.
The first area is federation of controllers. There is not yet a federation project in ODL, so we are planning to propose one for Carbon next month. We are also very active in the multi-site OpenStack (neutron) federation project. The other area we are very active in is Network Virtualization – we have been contributing code and helping test the NetVirt project. We are also involved in the UNI-manager project which is aimed at supporting MEF L2/L3 VPN services. Of course, as a part of our carrier-grade focus, we are helping out with other performance and availability related testing/projects as well.
How do readers get more information about the HPE OpenSDN Controller?
Shelef: Let me recap the HPE OpenSDN controller offerings once more. As we have said previously, the HPE OpenSDN portfolio is the evolution of what was HPE ContexNet. So, OpenSDN is not a new controller we are launching. HPE OpenSDN portfolio consist of an ODL-based carrier-grade SDN Controller. We add value to the base controller with a rich set of application packs that form the basis of our pre-tested solutions targeted at the most common use cases. These application packs include:
- Datacenter networking with multi-site federation
- Subscriber-Aware Service Function Chaining for consumer broadband Value Added Services
- Service Function Chaining for enterprise vCPE
- CSP provided enterprise VPNs
We will be rolling out collateral on these products and solutions on our website soon.
We welcome you to come see HPE OpenSDN solutions live at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress. Alongside our NFVI, VIM, VNF and MANO demos, we have many opportunities for you to learn more about OpenSDN including sessions, demonstrations and interactive events. Learn more here – http://hpesdnopenflowwc.com/