In Unix lore, [Ghandi Con]1 is used to define the resistance to technology adoption based on the famous quotation from Ghandi and DefCon levels (more on this below):
- First they ignore you.
- Then they laugh at you.
- Then they fight you.
- Then you win.
SDN isn’t being ignored and no one is laughing. From 2011 to 2014 I often received emails saying the SDN won’t happen and that
Big vendors have entered the market and spending billions to maintain market share. Many startups have delivered their products and working hard or “fighting” 2
Now, we can argue what is the nature of SDN. We can debate how NFV and SDN relate to each. There are dozens of technologies in the SDN market and some of them will survive. Some will change as customers develop their understanding and purpose.
We are at GhandiCon 3. Vendors are fighting to get customers to understand SDN. Vendors are fighting each other to get business from those customers that are buying. Vendors are fighting internally as SDN kills off large numbers of existing products who don’t want to die.
This is a messy time in SDN and made more complex by the arrival of NFV. Virtual appliances will replace many hardware appliances for common network services – load balancing, routing, firewalls, IDS etc.
Watching a fight is a messy experience that can also be a lot of fun. For reference, look at the people who watch boxing or wrestling.
Then You Win
If the GhandiCon scale runs true then we will soon be at Level 4 “Then You Win”. Define “Win” in this context ?
Customers are looking for value. Value is often simplified to following:
- improves business performance – either to get ahead of or catch up with competition.
- reduces cost – either by improving productive output or reducing/maximising CapEx or OpEx (or both).
In broad terms, SDN delivers both of these and particularly good at improving business performance while NFV is more focussed on reducing costs.
Vendor Win – Sell customers products & services at a profit.
Customer Win – improve business performance and reduce cost.
Because IT moves slowly and takes years to adopt deep systemic change, I expect it will be 2018-2020 before the real impacts of SDN are seen widely across the market. But GhandiCon Level 4 is well on the way.
There is a quote from Mohandas Gandhi, describing the stages of establishment resistence to a winning strategy of nonviolent activism, that partisans of open source and especially Linux have embraced as almost an explanatory framework for the behaviors they observe while trying to get corporations and other large institutions to take new ways of doing things seriously:
First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.
In hacker usage this quote has miscegenated with the U.S military’s DefCon terminology describing ‘defense conditions’ or degrees of war alert. At GandhiCon One, you’re being ignored. At GandhiCon Two, opponents are laughing at you and dismissing the idea that you could ever be a threat. At GandhiCon Three, they’re fighting you on the merits and/or attempting to discredit you. At GandhiCon Four, you’re winning and they are arguing to save face or stave off complete collapse of their position.