For the last two decades, the focus has been on connectivity: servers to switches, switches to switches, LANs to WANs – repeat for all network types.
Ten years ago, connectivity was hard and required expert knowledge at Layer 1/2/3 to get it done reliably. Over time we have seen technology simplification, new standards, quality manufacturing and widely known best practices with the result that connectivity is simple and ultimately of limited value to customers.
The Internet is an example of ubiquitous connectivity and it is a widely available commodity.
At a practical level,
- it’s rare to have cabling problems because manufacturing has improved so much.
- Connecting switches is greatly simplified with Auto-MDIX.
- Configuring IP routing is much simpler now,
- L2 technologies like frame relay & ATM are fading away
- OSPF is the standard protocol for all vendors and interoperability is finally good.
- OSPF works best with Ethernet and everyone uses Ethernet.
And so on.
In short, connectivity is now commodity and it is services that are hard. Understanding this point is key to understanding the SDN market. I take the view that SDN assumes that connectivity is a cheap, low cost and low value business function.
SDN is about building services from the connectivity. Technologies like OpenFlow, Overlays and APIs are tools that applications use to create services from the connectivity.
Other Posts in A Series On The Same Topic
- Understanding SDN: Services, Commodities and Value (10th March 2014)
- Understanding SDN: Connectivity is Commodity, Services Are Valuable (4th March 2014)
- Blessay: Categorising SDN Network Solutions and Architectures for Understanding (4th February 2014)