Following the OpenFlow/SDN webinar last week, Brad sent me this question:
What does your crystal ball tell you regarding industry acceptance? I can see the Google’s of the world needing this—but what about the average enterprise?
Here is my best effort at answering:
As I try to emphasise, OF/SDN is an early stage technology – probably like Ethernet switching in 1999, and got a long way to travel. Any new technology needs it’s early adopters who can take the risk after balancing it’s against some specific problem that needs solving.
In my *current* opinion the early adopters for SDN/OpenFlow are going to be in just one areas: Hyperscale Data Centres. Companies like Google, Yahoo, Rackspace etc have a specific problem that Flow Forwarding can solve. The primary problem is the total number of VLANs available.
In traditional L2 Switch networks, the total number of VLANs in a L2 system is 4096. Take away about 200 for operational requirements, then allocate 4 or 5 per customers and you don’t have enough. I’ve heard that Rackspace has a “pod” of 160 racks because that the limit of VLANs available.
The second level of function is the software control. SDN offers a model for operational control of equipment and configuration. Couple that with improved software development and testing processes and tools, and this is the long term business benefit for reducing the running costs of our networks.
The EtherealMind View
A short term win in VLANs and a long term win in controlling operating costs that can clearly be communicated to management/business. That’s why the level of interest.
You can find the recording and presentations from the SDN/OpenFlow Webinar at IPspace.net.