Its summer! And that usually means most people go on vacation and in my house at least, that means we go camping at least once. We recently went to Camp Mather, up in the Sierras near Yosemite.
At the camp, you can stay in the tent section, or the cabin section. This idea of ‘sub camps’ struck me as we are seeing SDN break into sub camps as well. Here, by camp we mean different users focused on a specific area for SDN to solve their specific problems.
Let’s take a look at the four camps we see.
Enterprise Data Center – This is where the idea of network virtualization and SDN started. The key driver was extending application and server agility to the network. The common use case we see today is extending high availability and disaster recovery.
We think of VXLAN (or Labeled BGP) for overlays and see daily water balloon battles between the different cabins. From the Cisco ACI / APIC group, challenging pretty much every other team. VMware has its lead because of their market presence and NSX (from Nicira) around the idea of overlays to enable virtual machine (VM) mobility between network domains. Of course we see lots of challengers here, from Midokura and PLUMgrid to Brocade’s Open Vyatta.
Enterprise LAN – This camp is still nascent compared to the Enterprise Data Center. Companies like HP launched an App Store and showed early use cases around collaboration (Microsoft) and security (DDoS for BYOD).These are real pain points for the Enterprise. We all see the plethora of new devices we want to bring to work, and CIOs are constantly keeping Security as their top spend bucket.
We saw early adopters looking at OpenFlow as a means for universal programmability. In this camp, users want turnkey solutions ‘that just work.’ Companies like Ecode Networks and Pertino aim to create dashboards that give users ‘Apps’ to click on. We will get there!
Carrier/SP Data Center – This camp is very active, most early adopters of SDN are in this area. The benefit here is similar to Enterprise Data Centers, to drive network agility. For service providers, this takes on many faces. From DR-as-a-Service (DRaaS) to ensuring that secure multi-tenant services can be scaled.
All the players from the Enterprise Data Center are here as well, however. OpenStack is the leading orchestration platform being tested. Integration with OpenStack is key whether you are using the latest network plugin (Neutron at the time of this blog) or you are leveraging OpenFlow through OpenDaylight, you can find a way to jump on this wave. From a service provider perspective, they wish to see services more fluid, in how they are provisioned more dynamically. And of course the idea of tailoring services for each customer is unthinkable without some degree of SDN to bring more policy-based thinking to networking.
Service Provider WAN – Whether you are a large carrier or regional service provider, your goals are similar: find ways to drive up revenue per user (called average revenue per user (ARPU) on the mobile side), and take share from your competitor. SDN can help as it offers a more real time means to build services that are flexible and customer controllable. We see leading edge service providers doing this today from all regions of the globe.
The reason this is such a hot camp is that service provisioning here means not only manual change, it means truck rolls. And whereas you can send a data center technician down a data center row to modify 50 cabinets, you sure have to use more time to roll a truck and technician to say 50 buildings in a part of your service area.
For this camp we are seeing the emergence of white boxes for Network Function Virtualization (NFV) as a part of a virtual CPE device. And of course white box switches aggregate these vCPEs. Companies like Viptela, Versa and Nuage (ALU) are seeing successes. We also see SDN-WAN companies like Glue and Silver Peak jumping in.
These four camps will grow, morph and hopefully we can see some lessons learned shared between the camps. So this summer, make sure you pick your camp, get started and get into some water balloon tosses to keep cool! SDN is heating up in a camp near you!