White Paper: OpenFlow is Software Defined Networking; Software Defined Networking is Not Only OpenFlow

A brief summary of the roots of Software Defined Networking (SDN), our predictions for the future of application layer emphasis, and a proposal to create a broader “big tent” definition.  Download the Complete White Paper PDF.

This point of view offers CohesiveFT’s insight and thoughts on virtualization and networking:

  1. Recent news shines a light on the long journey to the SDN spotlight.
  2. OpenFlow brought attention to the need for virtual networks.
  3. CohesiveFT has insights from inside the virtualization and network worlds.
  4. SDN is necessary for the application controlled layer of cloud computing.
  5. Considerations for the future of SDN include OpenFlow.
  6. Big tent definition must emerge to truly capture the capabilities of SDN.

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 

We use the following image to illustrate the control issues by layer. 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

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.

Cohesive CEO will be presented on this topic and our Whitepaper at the SDN Summit in London in November 2012.

By: Margaret Valtierra

download the white paper (PDF)