Ronny Lam


This Could Be My Take on SDN

Last year I presented at the Carrier Cloud Summit and after 2 days of listening to SDN presentations I drew the following conclusion:

After 2 days I come to the conclusion that #Cloud = #SDN = Everything = Nothing. There is no single definition to both.

That’s why it came as a pleasant no surprise to read the following in a post by Chris Jones:

It’s official, SDN has taken over for “cloud” as the most over-used, under-defined buzzword in networking.

I don’t know how official his quote is, but looking at my timeline I can only agree. He then takes it a step further and asks if NetOps should learn to code. Apparently he connects SDN with automating and programmability of the network. In my practice I can only agree that it is the NetOps that know, a little, scripting are the ones that are able to automate. In fact, it is the ones that are more advanced in that, call it coding, are the ones that are able take an abstract view of the network and really take standardization and automation to another level.

These tools will be written by people who generally know what they are doing. By professional programmers who actually get paid for the work they produce. Commercial software will eventually be available that takes full advantage of SDN, giving operators and administrators the ability to deploy, maintain, and monitor their networks from a central system.

Couldn’t agree more, however, on the NetOps side it still takes the people I described above to really take advantage of such tools. Fools with tools are still fools. And to answer the last question: I already crossed the bridge to building those tools.

SDN is going to affect all of our careers, somehow, and I agree that it will be the coders that will gain the biggest advantage when SDN arrives at their site.

One last reaction to Jason Edelman’s reaction:

Why should it be the sysadmin who scripts or programs? You ask, why not use APIs directly? I agree and we’ll get there eventually (when it does, that’ll change things even more), but unifying the tools used throughout a data center could make sense operationally as well.

Where the NetOps are going to have to learn some coding, the SysOps are going to have to learn some networking. I have met a lot of SysOps that don’t know anything about networking and why and how they are even communicating with another server or a client.

I think we arrived in a time where the clear division between Systems and the Network is vanishing. The same applies for the teams operating them.