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SDN groups respond to Cisco's "game over"

ONF, ONUG take exception to Chambers' victory claims

A couple of organizations are taking issue with Cisco CEO John Chambers’ claims that it’s “game over” for SDN competitors, and perhaps SDN itself, with Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure "winning the battle." The Open Networking Foundation, which is encouraging standardization of the classical SDN model of decoupled control and data planes facilitated by the OpenFlow protocol, is one, having butt heads with ONF member Cisco before.

The group was critical of Cisco’s introduction of the southbound OpFlex policy protocol when OpenFlow and other southbound protocols were already available as a conduit between an SDN controller and forwarding devices. Apparently, ONF felt these existing protocols could handle policy as well as configuration.

Here's what we asked ONF about Chambers comments during Cisco's Q1, 2015 quarterly conference call: "Cisco CEO John Chambers claims Cisco is winning the SDN 'battle' and that it’s 'game over' for its SDN competitors, and perhaps the industry movement towards SDN itself. Would you have any thoughts or comments and reactions to share with regard to Mr. Chamber’s remarks?"

Here’s ONF's response from Executive Director Dan Pitt:

ONF is propelled by the early market successes of nearly all our 150 member companies, which indicate that SDN is starting to meet the hugely varying critical needs of network operators everywhere. And I hear every day from network operators of all types that they do not want to be tied any longer to a single vendor, especially one that thinks it has the answers for all its customers. The best-of-breed environments and truly open programmability of open SDN that ONF champions remain the yet-to-be fulfilled desire of network operators, each of which has its unique ideas of how specific business priorities should dictate network behavior. We understand they will need service and support but we expect there to be no shortage of suppliers of these, many of whom will have no vested interest in the hardware choices. ONF and our operator and vendor members continue to build a diverse ecosystem of open SDN offerings, with increasing ease of adoption and customization. It’s hard to say which is evolving faster, the high-performance forwarding plane powered by new innovations in chip technology and pipeline programming, or the richly flexible control, orchestration, and management offerings that bring SDN capabilities to business applications. Various independent analysts have forecast the growth of the SDN market into the tens of billions of dollars in revenue in the next four years, and ONF will not rest until open SDN becomes the new norm for networks provided by a new industry landscape of innovators that are already starting to appear.

We posed the same question to the Open Networking User Group, a committee of high profile enterprise users – mostly in financial services – that recently outlined procurement requirements for open networking. ONUG Chairman Nick Lippis had these thoughts on Chambers’ remarks:

From an ONUG perspective, the SDN market is in the very early stages.  What the ONUG community wants is choice and options, a fundamentally new total cost of network ownership model and faster IT delivery.  83% of ONUG attendees state that their network is "not all all" or "a little" open today.  What the ONUG community wants is open multivendor interoperable demonstrations of the ONUG working group use cases and will hold back procurement until they get it.

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