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OpenFlow at Ethernet Tech Summit

Mar 8, 2012
Marc Cohn
Marc Cohn About the author

The recent Ethernet Technology Summit wrapped up this past week, with hundreds gathered in Silicon Valley to pay homage to the most pervasive and successful networking technology standard the world has ever known.

Software Defined Networking (SDN) and OpenFlow® were among the hottest topics at this year’s conference. A day-long ‘OpenFlow® Workshop’ featured forward-looking participation by many ONF members, including Big Switch Networks, Broadcom, Brocade, Cisco, Ericsson, IBM, and IP Infusion, among others that attended the workshop. In addition, there were SDN keynotes by senior executives from the networking groups of ONF members Dell and HP.

[caption id="attachment_172" align="alignnone" width="300"]ETS1 300x169 jpg Marc Cohn addresses the OpenFlow® Workshop attendees on the Open Networking Foundation[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_173" align="alignnone" width="300"]ETS2 300x169 jpg Over 80 Ethernet Technology Summit participants attended the day-long OpenFlow® Workshop[/caption]

Discussions and debate centered around the state and role of OpenFlow® in tomorrow’s networks, and the tradeoffs driving adoption. Since many have been experimenting with OpenFlow® implementations, a degree of practicality was shared that begins to chip away at the hype permeating the media. Among the revelations:

  • Of paramount interest is the ‘Open’ in OpenFlow
  • The promised benefits of Programmability and Abstraction are clearly anticipated
  • While no strong consensus was formed on the Killer App, ‘Network Virtualization’ is likely to be the first areas where the vision of SDN will be realized
  • The Centralized control model alters network design, elevating the importance of the edge
  • Use cases, business needs, and commercial considerations will influence SDN and OpenFlow® adoption timeframes and rates
  • Software will drive network innovation at an unprecedented pace

While the Data Center was a major focus of the conference, SDN garnered interest for other segments as well. Sandy Orlando, VP Marketing at IP Infusion, addressed how SDN can benefit the Carrier Ethernet community, not surprisingly by offering service agility, hardware abstraction, enhancement automation – a familiar value proposition for SDN. She also recommended that service providers concentrate on providing richer access to the control of network resources to achieve these benefits as they begin to plan SDN deployment in Carrier Networks.

I presented a session titled, “An Introduction to the Open Networking Foundation”, which provided a concise overview of ONF, its members, and major milestones achieved since being launched in March of last year. I also touched on the benefits of the Market Education Working Group, which is chartered to clearly define and communicate the benefits of SDN and OpenFlow® throughout the industry.

While Ethernet rapidly penetrates new markets replacing industry-specific network technologies, such as Storage Area Networks, Carrier Networks, Industrial, Instrumentation, etc., SDN is poised to emerge as the unifying architecture for the network of the future.

– Marc Cohn

Marc Cohn serves as the Vice-Chair of the ONF Market Education Committee. He is the Senior Director of Product Marketing at IP Infusion. 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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Marc Cohn