OpenFlow is Software Defined Networking, Software Defined Networking is not just OpenFlow

Software Defined Networking and the Long Road to SDN’s Overnight Popularity
With its recent acquisition of Nicira, VMware has “done it again”; they have take a space and made it an “overnight success”.  The first time they did this was when EMC floated the IPO of VMware in 2007.  A company that sowed the seeds and did the spade work for x86 virtualization over the coarse of a back-breaking 9 years, made itself and the topic of computer virtualization, an “overnight success” to those who hadn’t been watching, learning and participating over the course of those years. 

SDN solves the architecture and configuration issues of today 

HP’s Bethany Mayer spoke about SDN’s solutions for current hurdles. Mayer said, “the network today is rigid, architected for a single tenant. It has to be architected for more than one user. You have to go box-to-box to change the configuration. And 70% of errors occur in the manual entry of CLI (commands).”  The solution? SDN’s ability to connect and separate points of control for the application and hardware. 

We use the above image to illustrate the control issues by layer. Like Mayer mentioned in her speech, the key benefit of SDN is the application-layer control. The access, networking and security features can be controlled by application users because the needs and concerns of the cloud service provider are distinctly different than the needs and concerns of the cloud service user (the application topology deployed to the cloud and its owner).
The 7 Properties in the Evolution of SDN
The founders of Nicira, now part of VMware, wrote one of the original pieces surrounding the SDN concept, the Seven Properties of Network Virtualization.   They set quite a high hurdle by declaring, “network virtualization, if done correctly, should be able to run any workload that is compatible with existing networks, over any type of hardware at any location. The following list of seven properties must be in place to gain these benefits.  Without them, it is not possible to unlock the true potential of cloud.”   
The 7 properties,  in summary, that news-creating Nicera founders, Open Networking Foundation folks and CohesiveFT agree on are:
  • Independence from network hardware
  • Faithful reproduction of the physical network service model
  • Follow operational model of compute virtualization
  • Compatible with any hypervisor platform
  • Secure isolation between virtual networks, the physical network, and the control plane
  • Cloud performance and scale
  • Programmatic network provisioning and control
“Big Tent” Thinking and the The Future of SDN

As techniques like OpenFlow gain a foothold in the physical and virtual infrastructure layers and the multi-tenancy models mature, then OpenFlow conversations should be taking place between the provider-controlled layer and the application-controlled layer. CohesiveFT holds that we should continue and expand on the 7 properties and use “big tent” thinking to capture the momentum of SDN and virtualization. 
CohesiveFT CEO will be presenting on this topic and our Whitepaper at the SDN Summit in London this November. 
Continue the conversation on Twitter: @cohesiveft

By: Margaret Valtierra