There is no better time than now to be in the world of networking. While it is changing significantly without many taking notice, we have exciting times ahead of us. Many of us, including me, may even be out of a job in a few years once networking becomes truly automated, but for now, let’s embrace the change and see what happens! Just in the past few months we’ve seen Nicira, vCider, and now Vyatta get acquired, not to mention the other SDN startups getting more VC funding, the most recent of this bunch, Big Switch Networks. But, today’s announcement is clearly about Vyatta getting acquired by Brocade.
If we use last year’s Interop as the OpenFlow/SDN coming out party, it took just over a year for Cisco to fully develop and announce a comprehensive multi-segment strategy. Their SDN encompassing strategy is called Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE). Congratulations, Cisco! If they got David Ward back from Juniper sooner, maybe the strategy would have already been announced. Joke…I really don’t have any insight as to who was or is responsible for the strategy, but would imagine it to be a fairly extensive team.
I think it was a good move to announce during Cisco LIVE. Customers worship Cisco, not just for the products, solutions, architectures they develop, but also for this week long party where they receive gifts and gadgets, and soak up some of the most technical content in the industry, but most importantly can be around like-minded individuals. That is the most important thing for those that are technically inclined and is often not understood by those who aren’t “down in the weeds.”
Security. It’s an interesting topic when it comes to networking within Enterprise IT. There are those that are truly focused on an end to end view of security or just freakishly enjoy security and then those that are usually okay with just implementing a perimeter FW and maybe an IDS/IPS. So, when it comes to your “typical” Enterprise LAN, all hosts are inherently trusted so communication between clients and servers, clients and clients, and servers and servers, is unprotected. I will say, in 2011, I've seen this starting to change and infrastructure security is becoming even more critical for the average “mid-market” customer for various reasons, but heavily attributed to the wide adoption smart phones, tablets, and the whole “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) mantra being driven by the consumer.
Anyway, what does this have to do with OpenFlow/SDN? Nothing…yet, but the question that came to me while I was in a meeting with a NYC based financial firm last week was, “How will security be perceived with running a *real* virtualized network with control plane separation happening at a controller?”
Before I go any further, here is some background…
For those that aren’t aware, I was proudly in a fraternity in college and our motto was simple, “Loved, Hated, but Never Ignored,” and we wore it proudly on our fraternity t-shirts. The same motto seems to be true for Software Defined Networks in the industry at this moment. There is a community of folks that see the potential, but not everyone is on board, not everyone thinks it’s for real, some call it hype, some call it a technology for Cloud Providers, and some think that it was built by the academic community and that’s where it will stay for the long term, but you know what, people keep talking about it, and that’s a great thing…because you don’t want to be ignored ;). There have been many blogs, tweets, and announcements in this space with the most recent coming from Nicira.