Ronny Lam


SDN World Forum 2013 Barcelona Day 1

Today was day 1 of the SDN World Forum in Barcelona. A nice compact forum with all the right people from both the vendor as the provider side, aswel as some research people. The day could be summarised as follows:

SDN is alive and functional in some networks. These are still research networks, but OTT (Over The Top service) Providers like Google and Ebay are adding themselves to that list. These OTT providers have both the development power aswel as big business drivers to introduce and migrate to SDN. Compared to Telco’s and service provider networks their networks are still compact enough like datacenter providers.

While the business drivers for these networks are very clear, namely more revenue with less people, others seem to be in search for the added value of SDN. One of the key-components there is the Return On Investment from replacing (part of) the existing network, which seems not to close the business case. Even shorter lead and provisioning times and faster troubleshooting seem not to close the case.

The vendors are kind of waiting for the service providers to point out some use cases. Service providers on the other hand expect from the large vendors to invest in some pilot projects.

One case that can easily close the business-case is end to end provisioning of connections or reservation of bandwidth or QOS. This however will not solve another challenge which we already have in todays BGP networks. Autonomous Systems are still trusted domains and it is, and will be, very hard to configure such things across domains. In controller language we call this the inter-domain east-west bound interface. We need to define a very clear API, with trust built in, in order to solve this challenge.

While the case for SDN is kind of clear, the case for NFV is not. NFV is clearly still in the conception status and implementations can be count on one hand. While the service providers are pushing for NFV, I have difficulty to see the use cases in such networks. For datacenter and cloud providers like Rackspace the use cases are more clear.

The talk from Scott Shenker underwrites again that we need to put the intelligence at the edge of the network and make the core fast and dumb. With the proposals I have seem from the service providers, which want to put all the intelligence in a central place, I don’t see that fit.

There are two days more to come, so there is time enough to get things clear and get some guidance on what service providers expect.