The session was comprised of hands-on labs and lectures.
The labs were far better and easier to follow than last year. You can tell a lot of time were put into them. The labs were based on Beacon --- an open source controller based on Java that seems to have served as the foundation for Floodlight and OpenDaylight. Those who are frequent readers here know I’ve been spending some time learning Java. Since I had the source code from Beacon in front of me running in Eclipse today, all I could say is I’m glad that I put the time in prior to today. In the labs, we deployed Beacon to operate as a hub and then change it to operate as a learning switch. Although I don’t expect to be building my own controller anytime soon, it was definitely cool to see and manipulate the code in Java. You never know when you may want to tweak something here and there when you’re in the lab.
The last exercise was with deploying FlowVisor. I didn't get through this one, so I’ll have to find time sometime soon to check that out.
As I said last year after ONS, I felt it was largely geared towards academics and researchers. I had a little bit of that same feeling today. That’s not necessarily good or bad or right or wrong, but as SDN continues to gain momentum, the presenters need to keep the audience in mind which is made up of an increasing number of network engineers. I heard a hypervisor vendor say recently (not at ONS) “bypass the network team” with network design engineers on the call. Not what you want to say to network guys. I heard some similar things today that shouldn't be said to the folks you want to empower to get SDN deployed. One thing is for sure, the researchers leading this movement do not consider themselves network engineers, and that is perfectly okay. If they were, we wouldn't have SDN.
Where is the innovation?
SDN applications and use-cases talked about today included network virtualization, network load balancing aka smart routing, wireless bi-casting using wifi and wimax, and how to power down links/switches to reduce power in data centers. Most of these were talked about last year at ONS in the same tutorial. I actually wrote then many of these projects and demos have been on Stanford’s website and YouTube since 2010. Last year Nick McKeown gave a great keynote at ONS, arguably the best session of ONS 2012. That was also talked about today. Why more of the same? It couldn't hurt having some vendors talk about SDN applications in a session like this without doing full blown product pitches. I think that would work out well.
I want to get jazzed about SDN. Jayshree kicks the day off tomorrow – I hope she will motivate, inspire, and get the audience going.