IT Brief New Zealand logo
Technology news for New Zealand's largest enterprises
Story image

Separating SDN hype from reality: A user's view

Thu 2 Oct 2014
FYI, this story is more than a year old

CityLink was one of the early movers in software-defined networking. Jamie Baddeley outlines their SDN experience - as a customer of technology - and the lessons they learned along the way.

In January 2013, Citylink announced to the New Zealand Network Operators Group at their annual conference that it intended to invest in software defined networking technology, and planned to apply this technology to the NZ Internet Exchange Points in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Palmerston North and Hamilton.

We’re looking to improve the architectural design of the Internet Exchange. I won’t go into the detail but suffice to say it has some issues – and those issues affect all Internet Exchange operators worldwide.

Back in early 2013, software-defined networking (SDN) was a relatively new technology, and the leading realisation of that was via the open standard, Openflow. Since that time a great deal has changed. We’ve seen many, many different vendors claim their latest technological breakthrough as SDN. I was reminded of this recently with an IP PABX vendor claiming it to be SDN. Sadly today this happens far too often with overly enthusiastic marketers pushing the boundaries that separate fact from fiction.

That’s not to say that Openflow is the only implementation of SDN technology, but it is certainly one of the first (if not the first).

For the purposes of this article I’m going to boldly ignore the derivative developments and address Openflow as the key area to focus on. My reasons will become clear.

And let me be clear. We are a service provider and a customer of technology just like you. We have exacting needs (as you’d hope) but we hope that you find our insight useful.

Focus on open standardsOur view is that one of the success factors of the Internet was that it was based on some key open standards: TCP/IP, HTTP, DNS etc. We suggest that when you’re dealing with your SDN vendor you hold them to account when they claim their technology is based on an open standard.

'Based on an open standard' is not good enough. It either is or it isn’t. 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.

Why? Because we think the real promise of SDN is ensuring 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 reuse of part or most of your investment in later years.

Resist the temptation of all encompassing proprietary solutions that are 'based on an open standard'. After all, we have that now - why would you invest in SDN to get the same result? Yes, it might offer operational workflow benefits, yes the orchestration and streamlining of provisioning is nirvana and yes it is 2014 buzzword compliant.

Choose carefully

We struck some real challenges early on in our SDN development. It turns out that what we’re trying to do (and doing) is actually complex and hard by SDN standards.

Our case meant that there were 25 million traffic flow scenarios and we wanted an architecture that allowed for planned outages with no impact on the service levels. Our flow count was considered gargantuan by most SDN vendors and it wasn’t until version 1.3 of Openflow was widely supported that we started seeing a match between what we wanted and what vendors wanted to sell us.

Take it from an expert that you want to demand Openflow 1.3 at least. Anything else is baby-steps that won’t enable a sophisticated customer to move ahead in a meaningful way. Oh, and ask if you can use a third party Openflow controller. That’s a good test.

Think about your use case, don’t believe the hype.As I said earlier, we think that customer empowerment and ensuring the value of the investment in your network stays with you. 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.But that does require you and your networking folks to think about layers 1,2,3 and 4 and beyond.

SDN will not eliminate the challenges you face now overnight. But I can assure you that it 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 very clear on the problem you are trying to solve. And you need some smart partners.

It is not a panaceaContrary to some media reports, SDN will not do your dishes for you, will not magically refill your coffee cup and certainly will not solve your business challenges overnight.

But it does present an incredibly interesting approach that will allow you to look at your enterprise or data center or networking architecture in a new light. It does allow you to reconsider old problems and deal with them using new approaches.

We think it is one of the most exciting things that’s been in discussion for a very long time and that’s why we’re backing it. But it will not cure all.

Be sensibleThat is our final word. Don’t think that SDN is the magic ‘pain away’ or instant ‘exponential growth’ deliverer. It is not. It will require your investment and your attention.

With it warts and all, SDN, Openflow and a commitment to being sensible and rational, we think that it’s something worth paying attention to. One more thing – make sure IPv6 is supported now. You will be thankful for this later – I can promise you that.

Jamie Baddeley is group chief technology officer for TeamTalk, Citylink and Bay City Communications (t/a Farmside).

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Consumer relationships with digital services continues to change
Two years of pandemic-induced reliance on technology for work has altered our relationship with digital apps and services, new research has found.
Story image
Check Point
Check Point and CCTV expert join forces to boost protection
The partnership will involve Check Point Quantum IoT Protect Nano Agent being embedded in Provision-ISR’s CCTV cameras for on-device runtime protection.
Story image
Red Sift
Entrust expands strategic partnership with Red Sift
Entrust has expanded its strategic partnership with Red Sift to make it easier for businesses to adopt Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) standards for email identification and security.
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
Barracuda expands cloud-native SASE platform
"The expansion of Barracuda's cloud-native SASE platform for hybrid deployment models and IIoT environments solves a number of challenges."
Story image
i-PRO releases smallest AI-based surveillance camera on the market
The new i-PRO mini network camera is now available, with a pocket-sized form factor and full AI analytics functionality.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Gartner reveals top three tech trends for banks this year
Gartner says generative artificial intelligence, autonomic systems and privacy-enhancing computation are gaining traction in banking and investment services.
Story image
NetApp launches Spot PC, a new Desktop-as-a-Service solution
This is a new managed cloud DaaS solution with security, automation, observability and optimisation capabilities, designed for the needs of today.
Story image
ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online
ChildFund says WEB Safe & Wise aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to become digitally savvy. 
Story image
Manhattan Associates
Shortening the click-to-customer cycle through smart technologies
Speed of delivery without accuracy is a dealbreaker for consumers. How can retailers operating in an omnichannel environment overcome the challenge of click-to-customer cycle times.
Story image
Managed service provider
Barracuda MSP Day 2022 highlights MSP opportunities
Barracuda Networks has released a report showing global services-related MSP revenue is set to increase by more than a third in 2022 compared to 2021.
Story image
Cyber attacks
Devastating cyber attacks expected to hit energy sector
Energy executives anticipate life, property, and environment-compromising cyber attacks on the sector within the next two years.
Story image
Ponemon Institute
Email revealed to be riskiest channel for data loss
More than half (60%) of organisations experienced data loss or exfiltration caused by an employee mistake on email in the last 12 months.
Story image
Silver Peak
The path to an adaptive, modern network
Managing and securing the network looks different than it did just two years ago—especially given that most of these networks are made up of multi-generations of infrastructure stitched together over time.
Story image
Maintaining secure systems with expectations of flexible work
Most office workers feel they've proved they can work successfully from home, and as much as employers try, things aren't going back to the way they were anytime soon.
Story image
CERT NZ releases first Cyber Security Insights for 2022
CERT NZ has released Quarter One: Cyber Security Insights 2022, which offers an overview of reports about cybersecurity incidents affecting New Zealanders.
Story image
Vectra AI
Vectra’s inaugural Partner of the Year Awards revealed
APAC companies Baidam, Firmus, ShellSoft and Macnica have been recognised in Vectra AI's inaugural Partner of the Year Awards.
Story image
Sysdig unveils new Kubernetes troubleshooting and cloud innovations
Sysdig has introduced two new innovations that look to help bolster cloud services and simplify Kubernetes troubleshooting.
Story image
Equinix announces milestones on sustainability commitments
Equinix has released its 2021 Sustainability Report which outlines progress, innovation and accomplishments on key ESG commitments.
Story image
SoftIron named global leader for efficient DC infrastructure solutions
SoftIron has been named a global leader for supplying energy-efficient data infrastructure solutions for core-to-edge data centers after an assessment by Earth Capital Ltd.
Story image
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Threat actors are exploiting weaknesses in interconnected IT/OT ecosystems. Darktrace illuminates your entire business and takes targeted action to stop emerging attacks.
Link image
Story image
Digital Signage
MAXHUB's Digital Signage range to bolster boardroom productivity
The new MAXHUB Digital Signage technology is purpose-built to make every kind of team meeting more effective.
Story image
Multi Cloud
Red Hat updates dev tools, empowers use of hybrid and multicloud
Red Hat has unveiled updates across its portfolio of developer tools, designed to help organisations build and deliver applications faster.
Story image
Digital Marketing
Similarweb acquires SEO and rank tracking company Rank Ranger
Digital intelligence company Similarweb, which specialises in analysing web traffic, has acquired Rank Ranger, a market leader in SEO and rank tracking.
Story image
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
MEC spending for private cellular networks to reach $5.8b
A new ABI Research report finds the revenue for Multi Access Edge Compute (MEC) deployments for private cellular networks will reach USD$5.8 billion by 2030.
Story image
New Relic
New Relic launches vulnerability management platform
New Relic has introduced New Relic Vulnerability Management to help organisations find and address security risks faster and with greater precision.
Story image
Trojan cyber attacks hitting SMBs harder than ever - Kaspersky
In 2022 the number of Trojan-PSW detections increased by almost a quarter compared to the same period in 2021 to reach 4,003,323.
Story image
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Skills shortages hold orgs back from capitalising on cloud 2.0
Organisations are becoming more comfortable with sophisticated 'cloud 2.0' technologies, even as they confront difficulties in hiring and retaining IT talent.
Story image
Aligned Data Centers increases sustainability-linked loan
Aligned Data Centers has increased its sustainability-linked loan from $375 million to $1.75 billion to speed up the next phase of its strategic growth.
Story image
Alteryx releases updates, empowers data insights for enterprise
Alteryx has released new advancements designed to aid enterprises with cloud analytics, democratise insights and ensure data governance.
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
Comcast to use ThreatQuotient for cybersecurity operations
Comcast, the parent company of NBC Universal and SKY Group, has chosen ThreatQ Platform and ThreatQ Investigations to meet their cybersecurity needs.
Story image
Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report
A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022.
Booster Innovation Fund. A fund of Kiwi ingenuity – for Kiwi investors.
Link image
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
APAC organisations fail to disclose ransomware breaches
85% of organisations in APAC were breached by ransomware at least once in the past five years, but only 28% publicly disclosed the incident.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Digital transformation increasing business complexities
A new survey suggests businesses must re-examine their digital transformation approach to better help employees adapt to change.
Story image
Vectra AI
Understanding the weight on security leader’s shoulders, and how to shift it
Millions of dollars of government funding and internal budgets are being funnelled into cybersecurity to build resilience against sophisticated threats, indicating how serious this issue has become.
Story image
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Frost & Sullivan recognises Genesys as leader in new reports
Frost & Sullivan has recognised Genesys as a leader in the cloud contact centre market for its robust cloud and digital capabilities.
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
Fastly acquires Glitch, enables faster developer innovation
"This acquisition brings together two of the worlds best ecosystems for application development into a single, seamless developer experience."