April 15, 2013

Can you see daylight? A new approach to Software-Defined Networking is on the way.

I can see it! Can you, too? Is there light at the end of the tunnel, a train coming in my direction? Well, if I worked at a Software-Defined Networking (SDN) startup, I might think it is a train…

On April 8, 2013 the Linux Foundation announced the founding of the OpenDaylight Project – a new SDN Consortium led by Cisco and IBM and a few others, aimed at developing a new approach to Software-Defined Networking. Modeled after the Apache and OpenStack Foundations, the Linux Foundation will be the home for the OpenDaylight Project. This is yet another player in a space that is already heated up with a mix of start-ups, new technology in its infancy and a series of incumbent network vendors who are trying to find their place in the SDN market. Since none of these vendors are known to be charity organizations, this is very likely a threat to various SDN start-ups which saw a huge opportunity and a potential play in the networking market. As with previous moves, it is reasonable to assume that the initial hype (inflated expectations) of OpenDaylight would put many of these SDN start-ups out of business – even if it is unclear at this point what the real capabilities of OpenDaylight will be initially.

As compared to the previously-hyped technology OpenFlow (which was led by the Open Network Foundation) OpenDaylight focuses much more on application integration via the northbound API and a framework for network virtualization – initially targeted at the cloud data centers of the world. Interestingly enough, it does not specifically call out the need for OpenFlow as the southbound API and it is therefore open for other implementations. Since almost half of all start-ups use proprietary technology in this space (including Nicira, the largest acquisition in that market), it’s reasonable to assume that the southbound API will become less important as more emphasis is put on the northbound side.

The application integration focus of OpenDaylight supports the Enterasys SDN view which focuses on service delivery, orchestration and automation through a feature rich Northbound API.   This view was also supported by a poll result during an SDN webinar we conducted on April 7, 2013. During the webinar, one of the poll questions we asked 300+ attendees was: “How would you rate the importance of a standards based south-bound protocol versus an open architecture with open north-bound API? ” Over 80% of the respondents indicated that a northbound API was more important.

We are focusing on our strengths at Enterasys:  providing mature and reliable solutions that stand the test of time and provide real tangible value to our enterprise customers. This includes new technologies like SDN. In the meantime, look for our upcoming SDN announcement (early May 2013), describing our ability to provide innovative solutions today.

Enterasys is committed to participating in standardization efforts throughout the industry and is an active participant in the relevant IEEE and IETF working groups.  We are closely following the various Software-Defined Networking related projects in the industry, including OpenFlow, OpenStack, OpenDaylight and others.  Rest assured that we make sure that our technology will comply with these nascent endeavors as they begin to stabilize and provide tangible value.

About The Contributor:
Markus NispelVice President Solutions Architecture and Innovation

Markus Nispel is the Vice President Solutions Architecture and Innovation at Extreme Networks. Working closely together with key customers his focus is the strategic solution development across all technologies provided by Extreme. In his previous role he was responsible as the Chief Technology Strategist and VP Solutions Architecture for the Enterasys Networks solutions portfolio and strategy, namely NAC Network Access Control, SDN Software Defined Networks, DCM Data Center Management, MDM Mobile Device Management Integration, OneFabric, OneFabric Connect and OneFabric Data Center as well as the network management strategy. This position is tied to his previous role in Enterasys as Director Technology Marketing and as a member of the Office of the CTO. In addition to this role he advises key accounts on a worldwide basis in strategic network decisions. Before its activity for Enterasys Markus Nispel was active as system Engineer at Cabletron Systems. Markus Nispel studied at the university of applied sciences in Dieburg and graduaded 1996 as Dipl. – Engineer for communications technology. He collected first professional experience at E-Plus Mobile Communications within the group of network optimization of their DCS cellular mobile network.

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