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APAC Congress. SDN Insight.

Jun 14, 2013
Marc Cohn
Marc Cohn About the author

ONF discusses the organization’s participation in the first Layer123 SDN & OpenFlow® APAC Congress with a recap of the event.

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is gaining momentum in the APAC region as steady as the afternoon sprinkles in Singapore, where the inaugural SDN and OpenFlow® APAC Congress (co-sponsored by ONF) just ended. This event was held on the eve of one of the most important events in the region – Interop Tokyo – where many of last year’s 130K+ attendees gained insight in to the various SDN sessions held at the 2012 event.

SDN is hot, but Singapore took it to a new level with temperatures soaring over 33oC. More than 380 registered participants from five continents spanning the carrier, research, and enterprise communities participated in the two-day conference, with dozens of ONF members traveling from all over the globe. In addition, ONF offered a one-day workshop immediately prior to a nearly full house.

SDN and OpenFlow® APAC Congress Program Chair Mark Lum commented:

"The SDN and OpenFlow® APAC Congress was indicative of the growing interest in SDN throughout the region, with over 100 organizations represented from over 20 nations, and a wide range of innovation on display. Participation by so many ONF members helped expose the Asia-Pacific service provider community to the developments and challenges as SDN evolves in the region."

As a result of this event, a number of clear trends emerged that are indicative of the state of SDN in APAC:

  • Japan is clearly at the core of the SDN movement in APAC, if not the world (first commercially available SDN products {NEC}, first major carrier deployment {NTT}, presenters at the workshop and the conference described SDN initial deployments by the carriers and enterprise).
  • The carrier/telecommunications segment dominated the conference agenda, driven in part by increasing adoption of cloud services.
  • APAC carriers, as in every region, are investigating SDN, seeking to validate the business case to justify the impact on their installed base, management systems, and operations organizations. Many raised the issues of security and scalability for carrier-class SDN.
  • SDN was frequently cited as an enabler for the emerging Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) initiative, but confusion about how SDN and NFV inter-relate still exists.
  • The OEMs responded, as representatives from many market leaders participated in the event.
  • Openness was a particularly pervasive topic, with a broad spectrum of views espoused by the OEMs.

Dan Pitt, executive director of ONF, presented a keynote at the event, and in it reinforced the growth of ONF (now at 99 members), as well as extensive liaisons with other industry forums and standardization bodies. Dan commented:

“I did not expect to find this much interest from so many places. Clearly, word about SDN has reached every corner of this region, and as SDN noise increases from so many sources, people are turning to ONF for the unbiased truth.”

[caption id="attachment_768" align="alignleft" width="300"]ONF workshop panel moderated by Marc Cohn (Ciena, Chair, Market Education Committee), with panelists: Dan Pitt (Executive Director), and Justin Dustzadeh (Huawei, Chair, Migration WG). ONF workshop panel moderated by Marc Cohn (Ciena, Chair, ONF Market Education Committee), with panelists: Dan Pitt (ONF Executive Director), and Justin Dustzadeh (Huawei, Chair, ONF Migration Working Group).[/caption]

There were a number of notable presentations from the conference, including:

  • Gint Atkinson, vice president of network strategy and architecture at KVH, shared how KVH has applied SDN to virtualize and optimize data center inter-connection services to compete with much larger providers.
  • Geoff Nicoll, head of innovation (APAC) at BT Global Services, indicated that “virtualization is driving network innovation.” Consequently, BT expects to reap the benefits of NFV in the short-term, but is still assessing the economic viability of SDN.
  • Chris Janz, vice president of market development at Ciena, offered a thought-provoking perspective on SDN openness, examining the implications of open APIs throughout the SDN architecture.
  • John Giacomoni, senior architect at F5, reiterated the need for extending OpenFlow® for Layer 7, which he referred to as “Application Layer SDN.” ONF has an effort underway to explore the use cases and requirements for extending OpenFlow® to support Layer 4-7 awareness.
  • Speakers from ONF member companies including Alcatel-Lucent, Ciena, Cyan, Ericsson, Infinera, and Overture Networks, among others, addressed the benefits of SDN in the transport network, where multi-layer optimization may be leveraged to address the explosive bandwidth needs for both fixed and mobile networks. These firms are participating in the new ONF Optical Transport Working Group, which was formed in March with a mission to extend OpenFlow® to optical networks.

Perhaps the key message culminating the conference was ‘Optimize and Monetize’ – referring to the opportunity for carriers, operators, and end users to make and save money as alluded to in several presentations. The interesting debate is the path to realize those benefits, which stimulated healthy discussion from the vendors in particular, most of whom shared their SDN strategy with a few promoting their proprietary approaches.

Whereas 2012 was the year of SDN, 2013 is the year of the use case. We expect that by the 2014 SDN & OpenFlow® APAC Congress, we will be discussing more case studies as well, and not all in Japan.

Layer123, organizer of the SDN & OpenFlow® APAC Congress, is already setting their sights on another event – the SDN & OpenFlow® World Congress – planned for October 15-18, 2013 in Bad Homburg, Germany, just outside Frankfurt. Last year’s inaugural SDN & OpenFlow® World Congress revealed tremendous interest in Europe, and coincided with the unveiling of the seminal NFV whitepaper that launched an unprecedented movement by large carriers. This year, ONF again serves as co-host, and intends to hold a workshop where early innovators will share real-world insights on initial deployments and investigations. Don’t miss it!

-Marc Cohn, Ciena

Marc Cohn serves as the Chair of the ONF Market Education Committee. He is a Senior Director of Market Development at Ciena, and responsible for Ciena’s SDN outbound marketing initiative. For over 20 years, Marc has driven and promoted successful communications software products for the Data Communications and Telecommunications markets as the industry was transformed by the IP revolution.

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