Software Defined Networking: Separating Hype from Reality

16 Sep 2014
Software Defined Networking

CityLink was one of the early movers in software-defined networking. Jamie Baddeley, Group Chief Technology Officer for TeamTalk, CityLink and Bay City Communications (Farmside) outlines the SDN experience - as a customer of this technology - and the lessons  learned along the way. Excerpts of his views in the IT Brief, Sep Issue

“In January 2013, CityLink announced to the NZ Network Operators Group at their annual conference that it intended to invest in Software Defined Networking technology and it planned to apply this technology to the NZ Internet Exchange Points that exist in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Palmerston North and Hamilton. We’re looking to improve the architectural design of the Internet Exchange.

As one of the early movers in SDN, I’d like to provide you some thoughts on our experiences in SDN and how to separate hype from reality.

Focus on Open Standards

“Based on an Open Standard” is not good enough. Demand standards and demand better. We want Internet scale technology and look closely at what is a mandatory part of the standard and the aspects that are optional. We think the real promise of SDN is ensure the value of the application resides with the customer. An open standard enables this because there is a clear delineation between hardware and software. It enables the customers to invest in SDN without fear of being held to ransom by a proprietary solution. It also allows re-use of part or most of your investment in later years.

Choose Carefully

You want to demand Openflow 1.3 at least. Anything else won’t enable a sophisticated customer to move ahead in a meaningful way. And you need the flexibility to use a 3rd party Open flow controller.

Think about your use case

To get that true return on investment you do need to think carefully about the problem you’re trying to solve. SDN’s trick is to present a set of API’s, tools, and tight integration with databases of information so that ease of use is achievable, realistic, and frankly, slick. SDN will present you a new way of dealing with challenges that you previously thought were too hard or impossible. But you need to be very clear on the problem you are trying to solve. And you need some smart partners.

It is not a panacea.

SDN will not solve your business challenges overnight. It does present an incredibly interesting approach that will allow you to look at your enterprise or datacenter or networking architecture in a new light. It does allow you to reconsider old problems and deal with them using new approaches.

Be sensible.

SDN will require your investment and your attention. And make sure IPv6 is supported too “

See detailed article