February 27, 2014

Metzler on SDN and NFV

Over the last year, the hottest topic in networking has been software defined networking (SDN).  If you look at SDN from the supply side, over the last 6 or 7 months there has been lots of activity, including:

  • In August 2013 VMware and HP announced their intention to create an overlay/underlay solution in which VMware's NSX controller provisions the virtual network overlay, and HP's SDN controller provisions physical network flows on its switches via OpenFlow. 

  • In September 2013 HP announced the HP SDN App Store which is intended to let customers browse, search, purchase and directly download SDN applications onto HP's SDN controller.  

  • In November 2013 Cisco announced that it would acquire Insieme Networks, which it funded as a "spin-in" startup.  At that same time, Cisco announced its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) initiative in part to counter what Cisco sees as significant issues with VMware's software only network virtualization solution.

  • In February 2014 The Open Daylight Consortium released the first version of its SDN and Network Function Virtualization (NVF) software - code named hydrogen.

Over the same 6 to 7 month time frame the understanding and the interest that enterprise IT organizations have in SDN has grown considerably.   However, most enterprises are still either on the sidelines or in the analysis stage of SDN adoption.  

In November 2012 the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) formed an Industry Specifications Group for Network Functions Virtualization (NFV ISG).  The goal of NFV ISG is to enable telecommunications service providers to simplify their operations and reduce capital expense by having all of the network functions they use available as virtual appliances that can be easily provisioned and integrated regardless of the vendor who provided the appliance or the hypervisor(s) on which it runs.   As recently as a year ago, NFV was just one more buzz phrase being kicked around the industry.  However:

  • In October 2013, ETSI published the first of what is expected to be several publications intended to standardize NFV.  

  • Over the last six months products that implement NFV have been brought to market as have services that incorporate it.   

  • In February 2014 HP announced a separate NFV business unit and the company has assigned very senior management personnel to head up the new unit.

This is the first in an ongoing series of blogs that will focus on SDN and NFV.  The blogs will chronicle and analyze what is happening in the industry with the primary goal being to provide insight into SDN and NFV development and adoption.  Are the development and adoption of these new approaches moving sideways of forward?  If forward, how fast?  Future blogs will contain interviews with industry leaders, analysis of product announcements and insight from major conferences such as the Open Networking Summit and Interop.

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