One thing we’re grateful for at SDNCentral is our surrounding community, both for their depth of experience and willingness to share knowledge. These are just a few of this year’s contributed articles that I thought stood out.
We’ve had some excellent articles that deal with very specific aspects of software-defined networking (SDN) or network functions virtualization (NFV), but for this list, I’ve chosen to focus more on the big-picture discussions. With 87 articles to sift through, I might have overlooked some deserving entries (but hey, that’s what the comment box is for).
1. NFV and SDN: What’s the Difference?, by Prayson Pate
One of the most popular posts in SDNCentral’s history, with lots of diagrams to help explain the relationship between NFV and SDN. This got more views than most of our news stories, not that anyone’s bitter about that.
Sound bite: “They are clearly related, but how exactly are they similar? How are they different? How do they complement each other?”
2. SDN Startups You Will Hear About in 2013, by Isabelle Guis
This four-part report surveyed the startup landscape a year ago, providing a diagrammed view of who’s involved in which parts of the network. Some have seen drastic changes in the time since, and one has been acquired, but the report remains a valuable resource.
Sound bite: “For now, customers should focus on which one is solving their problem and work in their environment while investors should look at solidifying their portfolio across multiple complementary solutions.”
3. Are You Sure You Want Applications to Program the Network?, by Peter Christy
The 1994 “Fallacies of Distributed Computing” screed still looms large, analyst Peter Christy finds.
Sound bite: “Almost 20 years later most programmers are just as ignorant about network reality, leading to my question: do you really want such people making meaningful assertions about how the network should operate?”
4. NFV Insider’s Perspective: An Operator Shift Is Underway, by Marc Cohn
The latest in the “NFV Insider” series that Cohn is writing, this entry was inspired by the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress in October.
Sound bite: “Last year we were asking, ‘What is SDN?’ and this year, two questions emerged: ‘Why?’ and ‘When?’ Next year, I predict the beginning of another shift, to ‘How.'”
5. Is OpenFlow Going Down the Path of Fibre Channel?, by Shehzad Merchant
As open as OpenFlow is, Merchant sees an ecosystem of vendor lock-in developing around the protocol.
Sound bite: “The lack of standardized northbound APIs only ensures that the applications today get tied to the controller and, by extension, the controller-switch ecosystem. Think end-to-end lock-in.”
6. SDN: Who Does the Programming?, by Markus Nispel
Nispel’s articles considered several angles on SDN this year, including the topic of how SDN uses compute resources. Here, he looked at the issue of how the shift to programmability affects the people behind the network, a subject I think is going to be crucial as SDN grows.
Sound bite: “SDN for me is also about an organizational change and different processes.”
7. How Message-Bus Event Processing Created an Agnostic SDN Solution, by Simon McCormack
Actual lines of code illustrate this story, in which McCormack find a way out of a problem that emerges in an SDN implementation.
Sound bite: “I soon learned that if you do a small project that is interesting to people, it will get bigger, and then you are in a big coding mess.”
8. Does Infinite Bandwidth Mean You Don’t Need SDN?, by Steve Garrison
Some of the best posts (both guests’ and ours) are spurred by specific conversations, as was the case here. Steve Garrison explores SDN’s role in the face of ubiquitous bandwidth.
Sound bite: “Adding bandwidth means you are chasing a bottleneck somewhere in your network topology.”
9. Highlights of Sigcomm 2013, by Sharon Barkai
Barkai did a good job reporting from the conference, diving into details of a couple of technical papers he found interesting.
Sound bite: “It was clear we are now moving beyond the simplistic controller story and approaching the real challenges of SDN: scalability, consistency, and resiliency.”
10. Quien Es Mas Macho: Software or Optics?, by Nikos Theodosopoulos
Commenters frequently point out that hardware expertise remains important in the SDN age. Google’s SDN-laden WAN is a prime example, notes Theodosopoulos, an analyst who’s covered telecom optical networks for years.
Sound bite: “While SDN and software algorithms are ‘Mas Macho’ in the technology, VC, and stock market worlds these days, it is not likely they can solve the Tier 1 carrier low-optical-transport-utilization problem alone.”
11. Look Who’s Going to Finish the SDN Controller Platform, by David Lenrow
The cutesy hands-around-the-world illustration (chosen by me, so don’t blame Lenrow) hints at the answer to a question Lenrow posed 18 months earlier. It’s one of several posts this year that expressed faith in the open-source model.
Sound bite: “It looks like we are going to skip Microsoft and go to Red Hat in the controller business.”
12. 2014: NFV and SDN Gain Pace, Cloud Looms Large, and Big Data Becomes Too Big to Handle, by Kelly Herrell
It’s really a New-Year’s-Predictions piece, but what stands out is Herrell’s mention of big data — a topic that is, indeed, going to be a big deal for data centers and carriers.
Sound bite: “Expect to see one or two significant cases of network failures — either in production systems or as part of a disaster recovery event — caused by data overload.”