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Plexxi Pulse – Networking Field Day and Affinities

Next month Networking Field Day 7 will take place in San Jose, CA from February 19 – 21. As always, Plexxi is excited to engage in candid discussions with fellow networking enthusiasts. Matt Oswalt recently posted to his blog about NFD 7 and described Plexxi as “taking the flamethrower to this largely unexplored jungle that is SDN.” We can only hope to live up to this vivid metaphor at the event, which is described in more detail at the Network Field Day site. In our video of the week, Nils Swart explains the Affinity Metadata Service and what it means for the SDN community. Here is the video of the week and a few of my reads in the Plexxi Pulse – enjoy!

 

 

Enterprise Networking Planet’s by Arthur Cole argues that there is still a large gap between the current status of SDN and the industry expectations. He says SDN is early in its deployment stage and many adopters are not yet at the testing phase. I think this article actually raises an interesting point. Is SDN the thing you deploy, or is it just the way the thing you deploy does what it does? People ought to be deploying solutions that handle the task of networking. Whether they use SDN or not is secondary. You have to make sure you have the first covered before you have permission to do anything more exotic. Then the question is: what does migration look like? Customers have a whole set of secondary questions to ask. It is not a single step, and if the vendor cannot walk through the various preceding steps, there should be red flags everywhere.

Julie Knudson at Enterprise Networking Planet analyzes whether 2014 will be the year of SDN interoperability by researching vendor pain points and asking customers where they would like to see progress. I suspect that interoperability is important, but it’s not really tested in initial SDN deployments. SDN represents a new technology, but also a new architectural approach. I would think that initial SDN deployments are small, and as such, likely to be single-vendor. That’s not to say that interoperability won’t be important – it absolutely will be. I think people won’t run into real interoperability issues until they expand initial deployments with other-vendor gear. I expect the deployments this year to be smaller, one-vendor, and typically with professional services or at least integration help. Customers should definitely be asking about interoperability, and defining the boundaries of interoperability will help avoid hidden issues later, which can help mitigate the risk of unnecessary vendor lock-in.

Barron’s Tiernan Ray reviews a recent decision by J.P. Morgan’s Rod Hall to cut his rating on shares of Cisco to Underweight from Neutral, and the price target to $17 from $21. Hall believes “there is ‘a lot wrong’ with the company’s claim its wares can actually be cheaper than the bare-metal, or ‘white box’ switches.” In the vendor environment, we see the cost advantage between high-end and low-end switching solutions narrowing, not widening. Broad convergence on a small set of components (namely switching silicon) will actually narrow the gap. Cisco’s latest product launch – the Nexus 9k tied to the Insieme/ACI efforts – actually lowers their price per port. When you consider that Cisco will have greater volumes, they should be able to negotiate better per-unit pricing. This is offset by Cisco’s appetite for margin, but you get the macro view. The long-term bogey will be OpEx not CapEx. In fact, most of the pricing advantage attributed to Cumulus is tied to support costs, not hardware procurement costs. I think this will be a more meaningful space to watch.

Ed Tittel wrote about the relationship between SDN and NFV and how they can work together in CIO. Ed believes these two developments don’t represent an either-or proposition, but instead could work together. As people explore the different technologies, they will arrive at different control models. One thing worth considering is whether certain architectural choices will make it easier or harder to manage the two together. While initial deployments might not be mixed in terms of technologies, they could end up there. Part of what makes OpenDaylight interesting beyond the open source aspect is that it seems to want to be both an SDN controller and an NFV controller. This could be powerful and might make it worth investing in if only for the long-term investment protection. Settling on a controller early only to find out that it doesn’t fit with the long-term architecture could be a very painful experience.

Andrew Warfield of Coho Storage contributed a “real world” example of SDN’s success in InfoWorld this week that focused on applications. The points he makes about standardization and rough consensus are very smart. The worst thing we can do right now is revert to an academic view of the world. We need to be pushing running code into the wild to better learn and ultimately tune what it is we standardize. I like the use case as well. A lot of us have worked for, or at least witnessed, companies that have had to build entirely separate networks to handle things like storage. It will be great to see a dynamic network respond to application workloads in a meaningful way.

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More Stories By Michael Bushong

The best marketing efforts leverage deep technology understanding with a highly-approachable means of communicating. Plexxi's Vice President of Marketing Michael Bushong has acquired these skills having spent 12 years at Juniper Networks where he led product management, product strategy and product marketing organizations for Juniper's flagship operating system, Junos. Michael spent the last several years at Juniper leading their SDN efforts across both service provider and enterprise markets. Prior to Juniper, Michael spent time at database supplier Sybase, and ASIC design tool companies Synopsis and Magma Design Automation. Michael's undergraduate work at the University of California Berkeley in advanced fluid mechanics and heat transfer lend new meaning to the marketing phrase "This isn't rocket science."