Click here to close now.



Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Pat Romanski, SmartBear Blog, Kevin Jackson, Scott Allen, Charlotte Spencer-Smith

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, @BigDataExpo

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

SDN: Capability or Context?

Does software define software-defined?

Why is it that the definition of SDN continues to get debated?

I think the definition of SDN remains a bit squishy. And while I am not entirely certain that it matters (people shouldn’t be buying SDN; they should be building networks), it is an interesting phenomenon, and understanding it better could help with the education process.

When most people talk about what SDN is, they tend to fall into two camps: principles and protocols. You will frequently hear SDN described as the separation of control and forwarding planes. You probably hear people talking about SDN needing to be “open” (a horribly imprecise term as I have argued before). These are the people who fall on the principles side. They point less to specific instantiations of technologies and more to the guidelines that define SDN.

The other camp will point to specific protocols and technologies. They rally around the OpenFlow banner for sure, but they might include other technologies like BGP-TE, PCE, ALTO, and I2RS. They see SDN as an architecture with specific building blocks, and the presence of those building blocks determines the SDN-ness of a solution.

I actually don’t think that either of these positions is correct.

I was debating last week whether GMPLS was SDN. It certainly focuses on the separation of control and forwarding plane. It is an open standard. It is absolutely implemented in software. It seems to hit most of the framework criteria for inclusion in the SDN camp. The conclusion of whether GMPLS is SDN or not is less interesting than the discussion that surrounded it.

Does software define software-defined? Claiming something is software-defined because it is implemented in software is probably among the lamest definitional requirements around. The reality is that the vast majority of traditional networking features are all implemented in software. In fact, the major vendors spend north of 80% of their R&D on software-related efforts. By this definition, everything is software-defined.

The real distinction people seem to be trying to make when they talk about software implementations is whether the functionality is resident on a networking device, or whether it sits somewhere on top of the network (as with a controller). But we should be clear about this. Whether some application runs on or off the box is a packaging detail, not some core attribute. Networking devices all have some forwarding ASIC and a general processor. Whether you write something to run natively within the sheet  metal or on some server somewhere is irrelevant. Put differently, if your vendor of choice decided to ship their boxes with the central processing card physically separated (it sits a half micron on top, with separate sheet metal, power, and cooling), would you suddenly brand the solution software-defined?

[Special callout to Mike Dvorkin (@dvorkinista) who frequently makes this argument on social channels.]

Is the separation of control and forwarding the meaningful determinant? Network device behavior is all state-driven. Whether that state is determined by persistent configuration or learned through some protocol is secondary. More simply, how important is it how state gets onto the device? More simply, if you set the state via an on-box CLI or via a controller, does that make the solution any more or less SDN?

When most people talk about control and forwarding, they are really having a discussion about management planes. Controller-based solutions certainly separate the management plane. But so do policy servers, OSS/BSS solutions, and even well-written Perl scripts that pull information from a content versioning system as part of device management.

My point here is not to say that separation is not important, but rather that it is likely not enough by itself to determine the SDN-ness of a particular solution.

Does Open make something SDN? No one will say that merely being open (for whatever definition of open you mean) is enough to make something SDN. The real question is whether something can be SDN and not be open. The answer here gets pretty religious, but that is largely dependent on how people have defined SDN. Can you build a software-implemented, controller-based solution that uses proprietary protocols? Absolutely. If that solution is deployed for 8 years and then the IETF ratifies a standard for the base protocol, has your deployed solution gone from non-SDN to SDN despite the lack of solution changes?

So where did all of this conversation land?

It’s not that I think there are not important principles to be considered before labeling something SDN. I just think that it is less about technology and more about context. It is absolutely conceivable to me that a particular technology can exist in both SDN and non-SDN architectures. How a protocol is used determines whether it is SDN or not. The examples are virtually endless, but I would start with things like BGP, XMPP, NETCONF, YANG, and yes, even GMPLS. Similarly, I think there are controller-based solutions that are non-SDN, just as there might be non-controller-based solutions that could be SDN.

This means that the conversation needs to move away from the technological building blocks and more to the contexts that matter. I’ll offer up three here:

  • Delegation – OSS/BSS systems have already addressed the management problems inherent in networks built from different devices delivered by different vendors. Cannot the solution simply be to implement master translators that push configuration down to however many devices? It seems to me that SDN is about removing the complexity of managing individual elements. That can only happen through delegation. Central controllers are great, but only if they can pass requirements to individual elements rather than having to manage them all in detail. The analogy I like here is one of the modern corporation. Imagine how effective your company would be if your CEO told every individual what to do. Delegation matters.
  • Abstraction - And delegation depends on abstraction. If the goal of SDN is to make workflows more manageable and networks more better (more easily managed, more responsive to applications, more intelligent, more whatever), then we need to abstract out some of the complexity. We need to work less in device-specific directives (read: configuration knobs), and more in overarching intent. The only way that different part of the IT infrastructure can ever collaborate is through a common language, and that will require abstraction. Expecting compute, storage, or applications to speak in terms of VLANs and ACLs is no more practical than turning network admins into storage or compute junkies.
  • Globality – Centralizing control is not about where software runs; it is about what that software can do. The whole premise of controller-based solutions is that having a global view of the available resources allows for more intelligent decisions to be made. If your network behaves exactly the same way with or without OpenFlow (meaning all traffic effectively uses the same paths), then does it even matter if you call it SDN or not? We need to be in the business of doing things better, not just different. And that requires globality.

These might not be the only (or even right) contexts to think about, but they at least start to frame the discussion differently. I think it is entirely possible to build open, controller-based systems that fail to deliver against any of the promises of SDN, just as it is possible to use existing technologies in new ways. Ultimately, it is the context – not the capability – that determines whether the promises of SDN are achievable.

[Today's fun fact: A car that shifts manually gets 2 miles more per gallon of gas than a car with automatic shift. Of course all that extra work requires more sustenance, so it's about a wash environmentally.]

The post SDN: Capability or Context? appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Michael Bushong

The best marketing efforts leverage deep technology understanding with a highly-approachable means of communicating. Plexxi's Vice President of Marketing Michael Bushong has acquired these skills having spent 12 years at Juniper Networks where he led product management, product strategy and product marketing organizations for Juniper's flagship operating system, Junos. Michael spent the last several years at Juniper leading their SDN efforts across both service provider and enterprise markets. Prior to Juniper, Michael spent time at database supplier Sybase, and ASIC design tool companies Synopsis and Magma Design Automation. Michael's undergraduate work at the University of California Berkeley in advanced fluid mechanics and heat transfer lend new meaning to the marketing phrase "This isn't rocket science."

@ThingsExpo Stories
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...