Ronny Lam

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OpenFlow: SDN Hybrid Deployment Strategies

Brent Salisbury has a very good blog, with a very nice design since a couple of days, about networking. Lately he is writing most of his time about SDN. His latest series about about OpenFlow is a must read.

I see a lot of good things in OpenFlow/SDN and I expect a lot from it. But sometimes I get sceptic, and that is when I read passages like this:

These are critical actions. As multi-table pipelines solidify out of the ONF and particularly the Forwarding Abstraction Working Group (FAWG) in coming weeks, vendors will have good articulations on how to properly implement OF pipelines moving forward. Any vendor not integrating these components, will possibly be limiting the customers flexibility. These are key concepts for RFP/RFI consideration around future hardware.

Legacy networking, if I may call it that way, has matured. The world is divided between a couple of vendors which are protecting their market with specific hardware and proprietary feature sets. We need other vendors to commoditize this market, and the good thing is that I see them lining up already.

But then there is OpenFlow, still immature, but in very active development. Hardware vendors have a hard time to keep up with the new features in every new release. Legacy vendors are building their own version of SDN, vendor specific of course.

When I speak with my clients and prospects about SDN/OpenFlow I most of the time have to explain what the technology is and how it is changing the world. But they are not, yet, asking for it. I still have a hard time to predict what the networking era will look like in 5 years. No unicorns I expect.