We hope you enjoyed the October 25 DemoFriday™ from Nuage Networks. The network virtualization demo showcased the power of software-defined networking (SDN) to deliver true virtualization to the data center and seamlessly out to the wide area network.
In addition to the presentation and demo, participants asked insightful questions for Nuage‘s presenters, Scott Sneddon, principal solutions architect; Dimitri Stiliadis, co-founder and chief architect; and Florin Balus, co-founder and product management. Visit the DemoFriday page to watch the full presentation or check out the teaser video and other resources, the read the expanded version of the Q&A session, below.
What have you learned from customer engagements this year? What are their real concerns?
Nuage: While customer use cases for network virtualization and SDN are varied, what we consistently hear is that customers want a true hybrid environment. This means they want to be able to choose best-of-breed products from many different vendors and open-source solutions. So support for multiple orchestration platforms, compute platforms, hypervisors, and networking suppliers is key. In one customer engagement after another, it’s obvious that they want more agility and higher efficiency. They want to turn up applications and workloads at will anywhere, do it instantaneously and cost-effectively, and do so without losing control and visibility. To the extent that SDN automation and network services abstraction gives them that, the call to action resonates. It’s not about SDN; it’s about solving the customer issue. It just happens that SDN principles, properly applied, can really help in removing the networking constraints that our customers face.
What different hypervisors and cloud management systems does your system work with? Which combination has been the most popular in trial and deployment scenarios?
Nuage: We support the ESXi, KVM, and Xen hypervisors. We support VMware VCenter/VCD, OpenStack, and CloudStack for cloud management. We have seen demand across an array of combinations, as many customers have a VMware installed base in addition to key OpenStack projects well underway. They want to mediate between those environments seamlessly and without fear of lock-in.
How closely do overlays and underlays really need to interact? What’s the right balance between the conflicting needs between openness and effective integration/reliable operation?
Nuage: The right solution will amplify the strengths of overlays and underlays. For over a decade now, we have seen how effective overlays can be operationalized and deployed in such a way that Fortune 100 companies can trust their businesses to them — they’re called VPNs! The key is for the overlay to be underlay-aware in the critical aspects of resource management and visibility.
You often use the example of the mobile network for its user-policy-driven mode of flexible operation. Can VM environments really be made to work in a similar way?
Nuage: Absolutely, and in fact we believe they have to. Whenever you land at an airport and turn on your cell phone, it just works. The network knows who you are, where you are, and how to get you (only) the services you are enrolled to get. It figures everything out instantly and in the background. You don’t need to tell it where you are and what you need every time, or wait for someone to provision services for your new location. Nuage Networks is doing that for data center workloads, so networks can be just as dynamic when it comes to VM creation and mobility within and across data centers, for thousands of tenants, in a policy-driven way.
What else have we learned about networks over the years that hasn’t yet been applied to the data center environment?
Nuage: In addition to the policy-driven flexibility within and across mobile networks of massive endpoint scale, there are at least two other key areas of experience that we can apply to data center networks. The largest network collectively built by mankind, the Internet, is a network of networks. From building it, we know that effective federation is critical to scaling out the infrastructure in a robust way, and we’ve applied the same protocols to scaling SDN control within and across data centers, with peering and seamless interconnection to VPNs and other networks. In addition, we’ve applied learnings from the “thin-waist” model for effectively building IP networks. That tells us to push intelligence as far out as possible, and to keep the core as simple as possible. A direct result of that learning is that overlays should initiate as close to the workload as possible: Hypervisor-resident rather than ToR-initiated.
What’s holding back faster/broader adoption of “SDN” technologies?
Nuage: SDN technology itself has made great strides in the past year, and technical refinements will surely continue. What customers need from the industry in order to accelerate their adoption is clarity and confidence:
Clarity, in the form of real use cases in illustrating how SDN abstraction and automation benefits them and gives them the agility and efficiency they demand in the cloud era. As long as SDN is all things to all people, the true adoption of SDN principles is stunted.
Confidence that as they implement SDN in their data centers and beyond, customers’ control and visibility are enhanced rather than compromised, that the power of SDN automation extends to all of their data center assets, and that “open” truly means open so that the benefits actually do materialize.
How does the Nuage VSP integrate into Alcatel-Lucent CloudBand Management Suite?
Nuage: The Nuage VSP automates the network connectivity as required and directed by CloudBand for telco apps in an NFV environment. When it comes to virtualizing the network functions that drive the services that our telecom service provider customers offer today (NFV), the CloudBand platform is a cloud orchestration system optimized for virtual telco apps from Alcatel-Lucent as well as a growing community of partners. As the policies and workload placements for the respective telco apps is determined by the CloudBand NFV CMS, the mechanisms to automate the instantaneous establishment of networking connectivity, in accordance with those policies, becomes essential. That’s where our Nuage VSP SDN platform supports CloudBand by providing the network automation, instantaneously within and across data centers and clouds.
Does the underlying network use any overlay protocol? If so what protocol is used?
Nuage: The underlying network is simply an IP-routed fabric.
Your VXLAN tunnel is supported without multicast?
Nuage: Yes. VXLAN is the encapsulation method, but we do not use the VXLAN control plane.
What is Nuage’s position regarding OpenDaylight (ODL)?
Nuage: OpenDaylight is an important project for our industry. A powerful open-source platform will be key to help driving adoption of SDN and network virtualization technologies. Nuage Networks is a member of OpenDaylight, and is committed to its success.
Is Nuage VSP generally available?
Nuage: Yes. Release 1.0 has been shipping since May 2013, and Release 2.0 will be available imminently.
Do you have feedback from cloud service providers? Are they excited about your solution?
Nuage: Absolutely. The level of interest and supportive feedback have been phenomenal. The fact that the Nuage Networks’ VSP accepts the data center infrastructure as it stands, is agnostic to choices that have been already made, and provides the means to virtualize and automate network instantiation across hybrid environments has proven to be compelling to our cloud service provider and large enterprise customers alike.
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