New SDN events help bolster industry effort

This year is shaping up to be critical in the development of software-defined networking technology, and two new events are helping chart the way.

Network World just launched an event focused on SDN that attracted some 100 New York-based practitioners looking for a deep dive on this potentially rule-changing technology, and the next day in Boston saw the launch of the first SDN user group, the Open Networking User Group (ONUG).

Our event in New York, chaired by longtime Network World contributor Jim Metzler, VP of Ashton Metzler & Associates, explored the potential of SDN, the different takes on the tech, and the promised returns and potential inhibitors to adoption.

[ IN DEPTH: What is software-defined networking? ]

Noting that standards bodies are typically composed of vendors that fall into three camps -- one pushing the standard, one watching, and one trying to slow down the effort -- Metzler gave SDN's chances high marks given the Open Networking Foundation group standardizing SDN was founded by buyers.

And as far as we have come in so little time, multiple speakers admitted that it is still early days for SDN. After all, it took server virtualization technology almost 10 years to become mainstream, and the SDN OpenFlow protocol was just published at the end of 2009, Metzler says.

Next stop for Network World's "Open Network Exchange: SDN, OpenFlow & Network Virtualization" conference is San Francisco March 12, then it is off to Dallas April 10 and Chicago May 14 (click here for more information).

The SDN user group meeting in Boston, called the Open Networking User Group (ONUG), was put together by veteran network industry authority Nick Lippis and executives from Fidelity Investments, UBS, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Gap Inc. Some 150 attendees came to hear what companies like Fidelity, Microsoft and Verizon are doing with SDN.

Press participation was restricted to an evening reception, but the ONUG members that came to that were clearly bullish about the promise of SDN, with some -- notably Verizon and Indiana University -- saying they are already benefiting from limited SDN deployments.

In fact, a Lippis survey of the ONUG participants showed that 16% are already in limited deployment, while 28% are piloting and 56% are still reviewing SDN. Of the people reviewing the tech, most will pilot it within a year. Those piloting it say they will go to deployment within one to three years.

The latter is "a little concerning," Lippis says. "We need a lot of companies using, experimenting with SDN. If we wait one to three years, will there be enough vendors left? Will those companies run out of runway? The time to do pilots is now."

You can get involved by plugging in to one of these events.

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