Will OpenFlow Solve the Financial Crisis?

I'm not a naEvery once in a while it does help to pull yourself back from the precipice, look around, and ask what problem can the technology really solve as implemented today?

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My personal prognostication:  I am not Nostradamus, but sometimes if you commit things to writing every once in a while you get one right and people come back and remind you how brilliant you are. Most often you shoot yourself in the foot while trying to insert it into your mouth as you end up dead wrong, and then everyone reminds you of it. But what the heck, for posterity's sake:  

The Don'ts:

  • I don't think OpenFlow is going to rewrite the rules about how you deploy networks. Some people will learn hard lessons.
  • I don't think it’s going to fundamentally change the way we design and build networks for production and real-world deployments.  
  • I don't think 10 years from now we are going to see it as the most revolutionary thing done in networking in the past 15 years.
  • I don't think OpenFlow is going to go away or be a failure.

The Do's:

  • I do think OpenFlow has a strong role in academic and research networks, and will allow people to do stuff they couldn't do on their own because they were limited in hardware capabilities and needed to model something in their labs.
  • I do think OpenFlow will migrate from being full-flow setup and eliminate the federated control plane and communication system based on 20 years of scalable protocol development to a system where OpenFlow is used to setup a consistent access-control, quality-of-service, and routing/forwarding policy across a distributed network of multi-vendor devices. It will end up being a fantastic multi-vendor programmatic interface that can normalize many complex multi-vendor provisioning challenges many network operators face today.
  • I do think OpenFlow, and SDN in general, is our best path to integrating with the new wave of provisioning systems such as OpenStack and such that are eyeing networking like the rocket engineers at NASA used to look at that big white lunar thing that rose at night - the next frontier of provisioning. But one that will take a while, a lot of focus, and collaboration with vendors, operators, and people with checks and budgets to get it done properly.

  The great thing about the Internet is that in 10 years this will still be cached somewhere and I will have to sit on a panel somewhere in Las Vegas and someone will quote this back to me. I'll probably blush, dance a bit, thank the person for remembering, and say that 'time and distance always change your perspective.'

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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