SDN/NFV end-games, paths forward remain in flux

In this week's blogs round-up, an analyst predicts that SDN/NFV will see decisive changes in 2016, while a blogger says open source SDN projects are gaining steam.

A networking expert predicts that the future of SDN/NFV will become clearer in 2016; the Open Networking Foundation says open source SDN activity is picking up and a blogger offers an Open Source "cheat sheet" to keep SDN-related projects straight.  

The future of SDN/NFV

Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) may be gaining traction, but the networking industry has a way to go before the technologies dominate the mainstream. In a recent blog post, networking engineer Tom Nolle considers the SDN/NFV end-game and discusses which vendors will come out on top. He identifies several potential paths over which the evolving technologies could traverse in the coming years, including:

  • Data center application and service path: SDN/NFV come of age in the cloud data center, as a way to segregate tenants, before extending into the wider network.
  • Up from the depths path: In this scenario, groomed optical networks combine with virtual switching and routing to provide a foundation for SDN.
  • Magnetic service path: SDN/NFV rides an evolving network trend, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), into the mainstream.

Nolle says that next year will bring decisive developments. To read more about these scenarios, and which vendors he envisions coming out on top, read the full post here.

More open source involvement in SDN community

In a post on the Open Networking Foundation's blog, executive director Dan Pitt says that more SDN companies are getting involved in open source efforts. He writes that there are three reasons for this:

  • Differentiation: SDN vendors now have a better sense of how and where they will differentiate their products, which means they also have a clearer idea of what areas make sense for open source.
  • SDN platforms: Maturing SDN platforms can now combine hardware, proprietary software and open source software, driving the demand for the latter.
  • Existing open source projects: Existing open source SDN efforts give newcomers a clear path to contribute without building a new project from the ground up.

To read more about Pitt's thoughts on open source, including some of its benefits and challenges, read the full post here

Open source cheat sheet

To keep the wealth of SDN-related open source projects straight, Packet Pushers blogger Drew Conry-Murray created a cheat sheet listing the major players in the industry:

  • Open Compute Project (OCP): Focuses on data center infrastructure. Conry-Murray writes that OCP efforts could influence the designs of SDN hardware, such as white box switches.
  • OpenDaylight: A largely vendor-driven SDN controller, with a number of partners, including Cisco, VMware and Brocade.
  • OpenFlow: An SDN protocol. Several years ago, SDN almost always used OpenFlow. Now, however, a number of other protocols are also in play.
  • OpenStack: A cloud orchestration platform. OpenStack also has a networking module called Neutron.
  • Open vSwitch (OVS): A virtual switch, used in the OpenStack Neutron module.  

To read more about each project and to see Conry-Murray's helpful cheat sheet chart, click here.

Next Steps

Are OpenFlow's glory days over?

SDN/NFV generate interest in open source networking

The future is software-defined


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