April 19, 2012

Musings from Open Network Summit 2012

Shehzad Merchant at ONS 2012

Shehzad Merchant of Extreme Networks presents at ONS 2012

Bigger is better, at least when it comes to the Open Networking Summit. This certainly felt like the biggest Open Networking Summit yet. The buzz around SDNs and OpenFlow seems to continue to grow with growing vendor, customer, analyst, and press participation.

Three themes seemed to emerge from this summit:

  • With the dynamism that mobility (user, device, and application/VM mobility) brings, and the scale that virtualization and clouds bring, traditional distributed network configuration, management and operational paradigms are proving cumbersome and error prone. There seems to be a growing consensus that taking elements of the network that are most under duress and applying principles of SDN to those problem areas, seems to be a viable strategy. This is a positive sign for OpenFlow and SDN in general, in that the industry is beginning to approach SDN as a surgical knife for specific problems albeit with applicability across a wide variety of segments, rather than a broad, sweeping, all-encompassing approach.
  • This summit also seemed to veer towards actually talking about initial successes. While the actual successes are still few and far apart, these early successes are an important building block to gaining experience and moving the technology forward on a solid foundation.
  • Lastly there were also those who were sounding a word of caution. This again is very positive. The last thing the industry needs is for the euphoria to drive unrealistic expectations. As such setting the right expectations in terms of where the technology is, what it can be used for, what is missing and the roadmap to fill those gaps, is quite important. This ONS seemed to bring that element to the table.

Overall, while this summit seemed to underscore a swelling interest in OpenFlow and SDNs in general, it also seemed to strike the right balance between keeping the momentum going, highlighting some early trials and successes, and tempering expectations.

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