OpenFlow And Network Value – Network Computing

In this rather long and detailed article, written for Network Computing, I look at how OpenFlow or Software Defined Networking will shift the value proposition in Networking from equipment to operational management.

The metaphor I like to use: when cars first arrived a driver was also a mechanic. Then cars became ubiquitous, reliable and efficient and the ability to repair and maintain was optional – drivers were able to use a car without knowing how to maintain. You should note that the Mechanics jobs are more needed than ever because of the ever greater numbers of cars in use. Networking is on a cusp where SDN can provide greater usage without increasing administration costs or requiring the same expert knowledge, and this will shift the emphasis on vendor products from the product itself to the how the product is used.

“The value proposition of OpenFlow is that it reduces the friction of implementing network changes for many organizations. In public cloud networks, where low cost is a primary driver, it’s likely they will move to adopt OpenFlow as the primary configuration tool for almost all network requirements and downshift their purchasing even further to “white box” hardware to achieve lowest possible capex and opex while building flexibility and faster deployment speeds. The OpenFlow software networking will enable public clouds to dynamically adapt to changes and improve service levels with intelligent management platforms. In the future, deeper manipulation and control of the forwarding table will offer a range of performance, forwarding and security features that further extend the network’s value.

Enterprise and private clouds will still deploy “full service” network switches because their software and applications require much greater diversity and flexibility. OpenFlow will offer significant operational benefits as many repetitive functions will be moved into the OpenFlow controller and indications suggest that VMware / Citrix and KVM are already moving to implement OpenFlow controller functions as way of improving their provisioning. The future possibilities of OpenFlow to manipulate the forwarding table have much greater impact on the Enterprise by creating new design options and features for new services.”

Read the article in full: OpenFlow And Network Value – Network Computing