This week I attended the Open Networking Summit in Santa Clara with 900 of my closest friends. Okay, maybe I am contributing to the hype around Software-Defined Networking (SDN) with a statement like that. It wasn't 900, there were only 899 in attendance (over 100 on a waiting list) and they were not all my friends, but I did meet a lot of really smart people and had a lot of great conversations. Those in attendance ranged from network engineers from large health care providers, senior executives from large service providers, hardware and software vendors, and more than a few venture capital and money management firms. The show seemed to be a good mix of speaking sessions that covered existing implementations, tools, vision for the future etc., as well as expo/demo time to review offerings and better understand the current state of commercially available solutions.
And while there was a lot of energy and buzz at the event, it wasn't an OpenFlow/SDN love-in. Speakers had well balanced presentations, calling out the limitations and shortcomings of existing standards and solutions. But it was done in a constructive way. Google kicked off the event by announcing they are using OpenFlow and SDN in a production environment. That is a pretty good proof point for the technology. And while we applaud those efforts we also realize that most organizations don't have the resources that Google does and will require more commercially available products that don't require extensive programming. The good news is that there are more commercially available products coming to market. NEC announced v. 2.0 of their controller and 2 production customers - one in Japan (SDN is apparently pretty big there, too) and one in Chicago.
There were also some interesting ecosystems developing to help provide complete solutions. Some of those demonstrating these solutions included Verizon, HP, Intel, and ADARA. Haven't heard of ADARA? You will. Big Switch was demonstrating their heterogeneous controller in at least three separate booths - even though it is not GA yet. Nicira was at the NTT booth-given that they are a customer, not a surprise. Radware was there demonstrating how its L4-7 solutions could be integrated into an SDN environment and will have some partnerships to announce soon. Other really interesting and innovative companies included LineRate, Netronome, Plexxi, and Vello. There were a bunch of other companies there as well-to see a complete list, check out the opensummit.org website.
Given the momentum created with this well-run event (nice job Guru and Asena), I expect we will hear a lot more about SDN, OpenFlow, and the Ecosystem in 2012 as more organizations become educated about the technology and more vendors throw their hats into the SDN ring - as seen with the Cisco Insieme announcement.
You can read Bob's other blog entries at Data Center Continuum.