The Open Networking Summit (ONS) is the granddaddy of all the SDN conferences, ground-zero for the OpenFlow and SDN movement. The ONS was staging confabs with the help of the founders of the movement before SDN was cool. We had a rare opportunity to catch Guru Parulkar, the Chair of the ONS, and Sedef Ozcana, VP of Operations, for an interview in-between their busy schedules, as they work hard to make this year’s conference even bigger and better than prior years.
SDxCentral: Wow, it seems that 2013 is the year for Software-Defined Networking! The market is heating up, every networking company is now an SDN company and every networking conference is claiming to be an SDN event. But only the Open Networking Summit (ONS) has been there from the beginning of the movement. What do you think makes ONS special among all of them?
Guru: “ONS is the only nonprofit conference organization exclusively committed to helping the SDN revolution succeed through the production of high-impact SDN events. Only ONS is led by the inventors of SDN, with multiple SDN tracks to meet the varied needs of senior IT executives, network practitioners, researchers and SDN vendors.
Only ONS brings together the entire SDN ecosystem of thought leaders, business executives, creators, researchers, innovators, engineers and end users and delivers the very highest caliber presentations, tutorials, exhibitions and research on SDN. An ONS attendee is immersed in all things SDN – they can learn from the experts, mingle with investors and business leaders and brainstorm with their peers.”
SDxCentral: Who are you trying to reach at the ONS?
Guru: “From the beginning, our goal for ONS has always been to bring the SDN ecosystem together to facilitate high quality exchanges that promote advancements in SDN’s applications and community. Companies traditionally represented at ONS include financial institutions, cloud providers, carriers, Fortune 500 firms, networking vendors, as well as universities.
As the SDN ecosystem grows, we want ONS to be the event for choice for traditional (e.g. Cisco, Juniper, Brocade and VMWare) and new vendors (e.g., Big Switch, Pertino, Plexxi, and Pluribus) and early adopters (e.g., Google, NTT Communications, Deutsche Telekom, Microsoft, eBay, Goldman Sachs and Fidelity) in different domains (data center, service provider and enterprise) to share experiences and showcase new SDN technologies and deployments. We want to continue to highlight SDN early adopters and their use cases, new innovations enabled by SDN and latest SDN products and technologies. We also want to reach out to end customers that are interested in SDN but haven’t yet made a commitment. We want them to see how their peers are successfully deploying SDN to reduce capex and opex and introduce new (revenue generating) services.”
SDxCentral: Why should they come to the event? What can they expect?
Sedef: “ONS packs quite a punch for attendees from all parts of the ecosystem, including:
- Network Operators / Practitioners – can learn how peers, such as Google, NTT Communications, Deutsche Telekom, eBay, Microsoft and others are deploying SDN in their environments and how to start taking advantage of SDN in their own environments.
- Network Architects – can see how peers are designing SDN solutions for specific use-cases, learn about the intersection of SDN with server / storage virtualization and identify where SDN solutions can be built into their own designs.
- Researchers & Early Adopters – can learn from peers, share cutting edge research and deployments, and connect with SDN companies and investors for technology transfer opportunities.
- LOB / IT Executives – can understand how SDN is solving real business problems to support growth, create new sources of revenue, meet desired cost structures, and create competitive differentiation.
- Marketing / Business executives – can get ahead by knowing what’s happening in a rapidly changing market and ensure they have the new business partnerships and sales connections they will need to take advantage of opportunities presented during the SDN disruption.
- Financial Markets Technologists – can learn from early adopters, such as Goldman Sachs and Fidelity, how SDN-based infrastructures are helping financial institutions solve IT challenges.
- Networking Vendors – can shape the conversation by sharing their point-of-view, showcasing SDN technologies and solutions and connecting with partners.
- Investors & VCs – can understand why peers are actively investing in the SDN space, learn how SDN startups can win in the rapidly maturing SDN market and potentially discover the next Martin Casado of Nicira fame for the SDN investment.
- Individuals: – can boost their career by learning the latest about SDN and connecting with other members of the community.”
SDxCentral: As the premier SDN event since the beginning of the groundswell, 3 years ago, what has ONS learned?
Guru: “The reality is SDN and OpenFlow are still relatively early in their lifecycle – we see the role of ONS as one that can help SDN “cross the chasm” by providing a forum for SDN proponents and end-users. We know the discussions around new SDN technologies, research findings, experiments, products and use-cases are important for the development of the SDN framework, so we will do our best to create an environment that will help facilitate these exchanges and support the maturity and advancement of SDN technologies into mainstream deployments and markets.
The first two sold out summits were very successful, providing a lot of great experience that we draw on for the planning of ONS 2013. The feedback confirms that quality of the content is of utmost important to participants, which is why we will continue to provide the caliber of presenters and track variety that attendees have come to expect from ONS. We will also continue to create opportunities to interact with SDN inventors, innovators and business leaders from different parts of the SDN ecosystem, via a variety of formal talks, exhibits, receptions and more casual settings. In addition, we will remain committed to showcasing real SDN deployments, applications and use cases that help end customers identify opportunities to adopt SDN and provide incentives to vendors to create interesting SDN solutions.
To enable SDN to firmly plant its roots, ONS will focus on the ‘how’ of SDN, such as ‘how to deploy SDN in production networks,’ or ‘how much did businesses save by deploying SDN,’ or ‘how much more agile is your network with SDN?’ ONS 2013 will work to highlight the “how” through all its the presentations and exhibits.”
SDxCentral: Is this year’s organization slightly different in terms of the tracks? What’s the rationale behind that?
Sedef: “SDN has been maturing fast and the ecosystem has been rapidly growing. This means more vendors and startups are developing interesting SDN technologies and solutions, more adopters are deploying SDN in different domains for their own use cases, and more participants are joining the conversation from different parts of the community. ONS has to expand in its scope to address various aspects of SDN and serve this growing ecosystem. As a result, we will have new sessions focused on new topics, such as hot startups and venture investing, and different tracks, such as a research track to provide a glimpse of the most promising SDN research results and a developer track on open source SDN platforms that will discuss how to move the platforms forward. Overall, ONS will continue to be the place to learn and contribute to various aspects of SDN and facilitate connections within the entire SDN ecosystem.”
SDxCentral: Do you agree that SDN is ready for prime time deployment? What is the ONS doing to help carry that message to the implementers?
Guru: “We do believe that SDN is ready for the prime time for early adopters. Presentations, exhibits and the strong interest from end customers at ONS will demonstrate the strides that SDN is making towards becoming mainstream. Of course, every new technology and paradigm shift takes time and must go through an adoption life cycle – SDN is no exception. However, it seems the rate of adoption of new technologies, such as SDN, has accelerated in recent times and we expect that will be obvious to all attendees at ONS.”
SDxCentral: We hear that you have some secret fun project going for ONS. Anything new or cool that you can talk about with us?
Sedef: “Secret? No. Fun? Yes, of course. We will be launching SDN Idol @ ONS competition this year. The goal is to showcase new SDN products and recognize high impact creative technologies and solutions through a friendly, fun competition among companies and products.”
SDxCentral: SDN Idol? That sounds like it’s going to be a blast. Looking forward to it. In the meantime, to close out our conversation, give me your best 3 minute elevator pitch for attending ONS.
Guru: “Our elevator ride is about a minute, so here is a 1 minute elevator pitch 🙂
Whoever you are in the network or cloud ecosystem – architect, engineer, developer, enterprise or service provider IT executive, researcher, vendor or investor – you cannot ignore SDN. It is the new network paradigm and a big enabler of the cloud. If you want to ‘plug-in’ to SDN, access the latest, high caliber content, via presentations, tutorials, exhibits and research, and become a part of the SDN community, then ONS is the place to be. It is the only event led by the inventors of SDN, with content you can’t find elsewhere. You’ll learn from the experts, mingle with the leaders, and brainstorm with your peers in a fun and stimulating setting.”
SDxCentral: Excellent! Well, thank you both for your time–especially given your crazily busy schedules. And we’re looking forward to attending the ONS again this year–sounds like it’s going to be exciting!
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