Huh? Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday (January 22, 2015) said, “… the Internet will disappear …” – so much for sound bites. What Schmidt is really saying is that the Internet will be omnipresent. People will no longer need to think about physically connecting devices to or even building out networks. The network will be so prevalent and so much a part of everything we do that we won’t even consciously need to think about the network.
2014 was an exciting year for network transformation, full of new players, new projects and new products. So what’s next? Cyan’ s CTO, Steve West, shares his top network infrastructure and SDN/NFV predictions for 2015.
Top Infrastructure Predictions for 2015
1. Improved software, scaling and interconnectivity: Driven by increasingly competitive pricing for digital signal processors (DSP) and transceivers, 100G coherent and wavelength selective switches (WSS) will begin to hit their stride in metro/regional and Data Center Interconnect (DCI) networks.
Within the last month, Cyan has been recognized for Carrier Ethernet and SDN/NFV innovation with two more global award wins.
First, the MEF 2014 Ethernet Excellence Awards recognize services, technology, professional excellence, and innovation in the delivery of Carrier Ethernet. Cyan’s Blue Planet SDN Platform won Best Network Technology of the Year for service management and orchestration – the category which had the most entries this year – as a solution that most impacts the efficiency, implementation, and ease of operation of Carrier Ethernet services. Judges included global and regional senior analysts from IDC, Infonetics, Vertical Systems, Gartner, Frost & Sullivan, Ovum, the Rayno Report, and other market leaders.
SDN and NFV have gone mainstream. There is a recognition that the status quo cannot stand. Both the Bell-Head OSS centric model, and the Net-Head distributed control model are artifacts of different times, like medieval castles, and horse cavalry.
I recently attended the Layer 123’s third annual SDN and Open Flow World Congress. This year it was held in Dusseldorf Germany. Once again, attendance doubled year over year.
SDN and NFV are getting love from players that were either on the sidelines, or who were critics, post-justifying past decisions. The atmosphere was electric. It was tough to find a quiet area for a conversation. A gold rush has started, with interest moving well beyond the early-adopters. There is a new majority declaring that SDN and NFV define a new era in networking and network services.
One of the practical rebuttals against carrier SDN is that most customers will not pay materially more for dynamically provisioned services or dynamically increased service capacity. This is true if there’s no perceived difference in cost or value. But the cloud services market has already proven and established that dynamic, pay-as-you-go infrastructure can be very valuable and lucrative as a business model when it replaces a model that was less efficient and cost effective.
Fortunately carrier SDN proves its value far beyond just dynamically provisioned services. One of the first use cases of carrier SDN and NFV orchestration is actually about doing things faster (and ultimately with lower cost). Specifically, we’re referring to the rapid configuration and provisioning of WAN services across a multi-vendor infrastructure. Today, provisioning services is a hop-by-hop affair utilizing multiple vendor specific element management systems with manual processes along the way that can slow service delivery to a staggering 90 day process in some cases, or longer.
Before today, Cyan had already garnered a reputation for being the leading multi-vendor carrier SDN orchestrator in the industry. We’re grateful that we’ve been able to support many customers’ efforts to abstract, automate, provision, and manage their multi-vendor networks.
But sometimes we hear from industry contacts that our competitors like to say: “oh, Cyan, that’s just a pretty GUI.” (We take that as a compliment, by the way.)
But as our customers know, Cyan’s Blue Planet is way more than that. Today, Cyan announced Blue Planet support for Cisco ASR and Juniper MX Series platforms, arguably two of the most widely deployed data center and router hardware platforms in the industry. If you’re going to talk the talk, then walk the walk.
Over the past 18 months, the NFV story has grown, and dramatically so. It was only back in January 2013 that I took the weather with me from Chicago to Sophia (South of France), where I participated in the inaugural ETSI NFV ISG meeting. Nearly 100 of us were stuck in our hotels in beautiful Sophia when the city ground to a halt because of unseasonably cold weather and snow. There’s some irony here. Parallels can be drawn to the situation operators face with vendor lock-in. Perhaps it was karma catching up with vendors.
Having recently attended Light Reading’s NFV and the Data Center show in Santa Clara, it is clear that in the time since that formative meeting, network operators have moved beyond the what and why of NFV and are in the midst of working through the when and how...
Last week I had the pleasure of being a panelist at Intel’s Network Builders event. The topic of the panel was “Building an ecosystem around open platforms for NFV”. But the discussion covered more than the ecosystem aspect and went further to analyze what it means to be open, why it is important for NFV and SDN, the role of standards and open-source solutions and what the industry should do to promote a multi-vendor and open ecosystem. Here are some of observations based on the discussions and audience questions…
While 100G is already widely deployed in core networks, the enthusiastic adoption of cloud-based services, video streaming, and other on-demand applications is fueling the need for higher speed and higher capacity closer to end-users. The good news is that advances in commercial off-the shelf (COTS) technology are continuing to drive down the cost per bit for transport, allowing service providers to begin migrating to 100G and 100GbE in their metro and regional networks. These strategic upgrades require careful planning to ensure that the metro solution deployed for transitioning to 100G will satisfy end-user demands, while also meeting the service provider’s cost-points today, as well as over the long term. The “Top 10 List” below also provides a guideline of important features and functions service providers should demand in a metro 100G platform. Are your metro hardware vendors following this path?
Last Friday, I attended the Internet Society’s “The Future Of Internet 2014: Defining Software Defined Networks” event, which took place in Colorado. During the morning sessions, vendors shared product and technology visions and the afternoon sessions were focused on operator and end-user perspectives. My take? The organizers did a good job creating a lively atmosphere in which we could assess the realities of today’s SDN and NFV positioning/solutions and the needs of network operators. Many of the trends discussed were common and well understood themes; but there was clear consensus on the direction the industry needs to go. Here are some observations about the discussion: