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Creating the Networking Buzz

Mar 27, 2012

ONF at NetEvents EMEA and My Draw Back to the Industry

In late February, I was given the opportunity to present a keynote at the NetEvents EMEA Press and Analyst Summit held in Garmisch, Germany. My presentation focused on ONF and our revolutionary concept of network programmability, exploring the growth opportunities now available through SDN and OpenFlow® and how this defines the future of networking.

[caption id="attachment_211" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="ONF Executive Director Dan Pitt offering a keynote at NetEvents EMEA in Garmisch, Germany"]Garmisch Photo 300x200 jpg[/caption]

I started my career in networking, and you might not know that I have actually come back to the industry after ten years away. During the previous part of my career, I worked with IBM, Hewlett Packard, Bay Networks, Nortel Networks, and even some startup companies. I drifted away about at the same time the telecom bubble burst because I thought the industry had run out of steam and energy. I returned about a year and a half ago with an invitation to become the Executive Director of the Open Networking Foundation by the early founders, Professors Nick McKeown and Scott Shenker. Over the past year and half that we’ve spent working on OpenFlow® and SDN, I have become increasingly excited by the future of networking.

OpenFlow® separates the control plane from the forwarding plane. It’s a simple concept that brings a lot of value, enabling you to govern your network from a single place by programming it directly with ordinary software. OpenFlow® is the open interface to packet forwarding. It’s a small part of the whole SDN framework, but it’s essential.

If we were designing a Ferrari, this would be the drive shaft.  While the drive shaft is not why you would buy the Ferrari, without a drive shaft the engine and the wheels are not connected and you can’t go anywhere. OpenFlow® will function much like the Ferrari’s drive shaft within the network. And because OpenFlow® is now an industry standard, there’s a lot of momentum behind it and it is doing exactly what we need it to do for networking.

As we move forward, I think networking is going to become an integral part of computing in a way that makes it more helpful but less important, because it’s less of a problem. It’s not the black sheep any longer. I think enterprises are increasingly going to be exiting technology – or at least exiting plumbing. They are not going to care about the plumbing, whether it’s their private networks or the cloud networks that increasingly meet their needs. They’re going to say: here’s what I want for my business, and you make it happen. If you have this virtualized view, you don’t have to look at the plumbing anymore.

Some of the key reasons that I decided to take on the role of Executive Director for ONF are the very things I discussed at the NetEvents EMEA Press and Analyst Summit and discussed here. NetEvents helped remind me how new this concept is for most of the world. For me, there is an absolute thrill to be a part of this future in networking. ONF represents the future, and it’s what brought me back.

In Garmisch I also explained a bit about the technology and concentrated on the value to business. ONF members Peter Feil from Deutsche Telekom and Volker Distelrath from Nokia Siemens Networks joined me on a panel after my talk, moderated by Ian Keene of Gartner Group. Volker also joined me in private meetings with about 30 press and analysts. For two solid days the excitement never let up.

-Dan Pitt, Executive Director, Open Networking Foundation

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Dan Pitt