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Stop looking for an SDN definition, says networking pro

In this SDN blogs roundup, an expert says deploying SDN is more important than defining it; an SDN company gets Google's attention; and the brite box turns 2.

SDN definition elusive

SDN blogger and networking pro Greg Ferro recently wrote that it's time to stop trying to define SDN and start deploying it instead. In a post on his blog, Ethereal Mind, Ferro argued that a clear SDN definition doesn't exist, because software-defined networking is a combination of many elements -- some of them intangible. He said that defining SDN in the real world is much like answering the question, "Which is the best car?"

Ferro listed a number of elements he expects to see in a software-defined network, even if they don't all fit neatly into one SDN definition. These include:

  • Visibility and monitoring as a standard feature;
  • REST APIs that are published on GitHub with an Apache license;
  • Applications that, using APIs, function independently of particular operating systems and devices; and
  • It must be operable on Linux.

Ferro went on to say that he does not consider software-defined networking an umbrella technology. Nor does his SDN definition include a particular vendor or brand.

Read more of Ferro's requirements for a software-defined network.

'Brite box' turns 2 years old

Gartner analyst Andrew Lerner recently gave a birthday shoutout to the "brite box," a term he coined for branded white box switches. Two years ago, Dell announced that users could run Cumulus Linux operating software on top of Dell switches.

In his post, Lerner noted that more than a dozen other vendors have since followed suit, including Juniper Networks, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Big Switch, Pluribus and Pica8. Gartner roughly estimated that between 500 and 1,000 brite-box users currently exist -- most of whom are large network operators or DevOps-oriented groups.

He added that he anticipates other major vendors will launch brite-box options within the next two years.

ONF: Interest in SDN training growing

In a blog post on the Open Networking Foundation website, ONF Executive Director Dan Pitt recently looked back at his predictions for 2015 to see how his expectations measured up against reality.

In late 2014, Pitt predicted that SDN training efforts would increase over the following 12 months. He now says that prediction was borne out, citing the availability of several vendor-specific training options, as well as the ONF's 2015 launch of a vendor-neutral skills certification program. Pitt predicted that interest in SDN training will continue to grow in 2016.

Pitt also suggested that a growing number of network operators would call for open SDN in 2015. He acknowledged that the debate between open and proprietary software continues, but argued that the former is gaining ground, with OpenFlow in use within many networks. 

To look back at the ONF's other 2015 predictions, click here.

Google Ventures takes interest in Plexxi

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., wrote in a new blog post that Google Ventures' interest in SDN company Plexxi underscores the growing importance of intelligent infrastructure.

Duplessie has previously discussed the need for responsive, aware networks that can keep up with the rapidly growing capabilities of today's applications. He described fixed networking as "overprovisioned (expensive and poorly utilized) brute force manual labor" that can't compete with the agile, dynamic and elastic networks that companies such as Plexxi enable.

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