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Will ONS Help SDN Cross the Chasm?

Next Week’s Open Network Summit may signal a new era in networking technology

The RSA security conference was once limited to discussions around encryption algorithms and cryptography attracting a limited and highly technical audience. Likewise, VMworld was once a Mecca for software developers and testers only. These descriptions represent ancient history – RSA covers the entire cybersecurity spectrum while VMworld has become a nexus around cloud computing. Next week’s ONS conference in Santa Clara is likely to go through a similar transformation. A few short years ago, a few academics, engineers, VCs, and networking gurus got together to discuss whether a software-based networking model could address the challenges around network scale and complexity. Now the entire networking ecosystem is jumping on board – along with cloud platform providers, security vendors, and data center architects. Alas, I’m not able to attend ONS but ESG will be well represented. Our goal is to answer some of the more pressing questions around open networking like: 1. Has open networking crossed the chasm in the enterprise? ESG networking Guru Bob “LAN” Laliberte is hosting a panel of enterprises already betting on open networking but is this real production implementation or a science project POC? Probably a little bit of both but I believe the real question is when we will have turn-key open networking equipment? Arista, Cisco, HP, and Juniper are pushing hard on this – let’s see what they say. 2. What about VMware and Nicira? It’s been about 6 months since VMware spent SDN money like a drunken sailor, coughing up $1.25 billion for Nicira. Now VMware gets a forum to tell the world why Nicira was worth so much dough. Is Nicira an enterprise or SP play? How does it work with VXLan? How does it impact the VMware relationship with Cisco? As Ricky Ricardo might say, VMware has some “splaining to do.” It will also be interesting to compare VMware’s view of the world with Microsoft and the OpenStack crowd. 3. What are service providers really doing? My esteemed colleague “Telecom” John Mazur will be sniffing out the story here. Open networking makes the most sense for service providers but ESG hears that they are all doing their own thing. How does this strategy scale? 4. Open networking and security. This is where I’d be spending my time if I were in Santa Clara next week. Cisco and Juniper are way ahead of the intersection of open networking and security from a visionary perspective. Makes a lot of sense to me but do CISSPs even know about technologies like OpenFlow? If so, do they care? From a supply side, where are the products? I’m getting old so I remember “open” initiatives like the Open Software Foundation (OSF) and how this open standard version of UNIX was going to bury SunOS/Solaris. In the end, OSF led to some cool innovation but Sun Microsystems prevailed. There will be similar rhetoric at ONS next week about how open networking will empower the networking masses and bring down Cisco hegemony. My advice to attendees is to ignore industry hyperbole and focus on open networking innovation and when/how it will start to impact your networking (and network security) planning.

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