I’ve been researching four different and distinct types of networking in the last few weeks. I’m finding that the cognition required to jump between technologies is making my head hurt. Here is a summary of four technology areas that interest me this week.
As part of research project I have been getting deep into optical networking. It has been a decade or so since my first introduction DWDM technology at Cisco Live Australia in 2002. In subsequent years, I would make a point of attending at least one session to stay in touch. DWDM has been widely used for Metro-Ethernet networks and thus the domain of carriers & telcos. But I’ve been looking at mid-scale optical companies like BTI Systems, Vello and Cyan who are producing solutions that work for content provider, cloud companies and large enterprises.
The disruption here is that the optical hardware is affordable by non-carrier organisations and that the software is usable by network engineers. Compare this with DWDM that was so arcane and complex that it became a specialised skill.
Secondly, optical vendors are producing management platforms with SDN capability to dynamically configure and manage the optical systems. Easier to use, cost effective and modern is a strong trinity for a sea change in Data Centre Interconnect.
SDN – Cisco ACI and HP VAN
The Cisco ACI strategy making good progress. Despite my earlier doubts on the strategy, Cisco has focussed nearly all product strategies around ACI and it seems clear that Cisco is betting a big part of it’s future on SDN. But getting to grips with how Cisco ACI works is a serious matter. There are dozens of technology concepts being repurposed like LISP, VXLAN, L3 ECMP, Controllers & APIs and even IS-IS.
I’m finding that coming to grips with ACI operations is a significant investment in time and is preventing me from staying up to date with other technology like HP VAN. HP VAN is an SDN strategy that is somewhat ahead of other companies and yet, remains elusively difficult to understand how deep and capable the product and solutions are. I’m hoping to spend more time looking deeper into HP VAN because I suspect that there is something bigger in there than is visible today.
Although I’ve called out HP and Cisco here, there are dozens of startups in the SDN space. Embrane pivoted into orchestration this week, Glue Networks and Viptela are showing how SDN can change the WAN. Big Switch and Midokura are continuing to innovate around OpenFlow.
Amazon VPC and Microsoft Azure Networking
I have been working a small company who have cloud-only deployment at Microsoft Azure and need to deploy a VPN service. Azure VPN has almost no features and we moved to use Amazon VPC which works completely differently to the networking that I know and I’ve spent many hours translating my knowledge into something that can work in Amazon VPC. While Amazon and Microsoft Azure offers some networks services, they don’t work for a wide range of use cases and so I’ve been working to deploy a virtual VPN appliance.
Amazon & Microsoft have both developed language and technology concepts that are completely different from the networking I’ve done for the last 20 years. In some cases, it has been egregious to see concepts used in reverse directions or renamed to something I don’t recognise.
Portals and Orchestration
It’s all software but this category is what will drive the cloud of tomorrow. You can have any features you want in your infrastructure but you MUST have a portal that build, destroy and monitor those services. I feel that most people haven’t considered what a service portal is and why it’s vital to their success.
And don’t confuse other products like service catalogs, orchestration gateways or analytics with portal platforms. They are not even remotely the same thing.
The EtherealMind View
I don’t know what to make of this. As a I work to remain current across the wider networking market, there is a lot happening in niche markets too. Whitebox switches, decoupled network operating systems, changes to reseller models are just a few issues that are getting lost in the noise.
I have been paid to deliver professional services or research / advisory work for some companies mentioned in this article. My full disclosure statement is here