Software-Defined Networks Just Want to Get Along

Carl Weinschenk
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Software-Defined Networking and the Enterprise

Software-defined networks (SDNs), an approach that allows networks to be controlled more methodically and with more agility than before, represent a huge change for carriers, service providers and the organizations that they serve.

Both the reengineered networking infrastructure and the transition phase that must first be traversed are complex, however. That is, indeed, something of an understatement.

An important step toward dealing with that complexity, and easing that transition, was taken this week. The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) announced the launch of the Software-Defined Networking Consortium. The consortium, UNH-IOL says, will provide interoperability, conformance and benchmark testing:

Application and controller vendors, network operators, user groups, data centers and others can all benefit from a one-stop, collaborative shop for SDN testing that reduces the risk of applications not working with a particular switch, makes the management and deployment process run more smoothly and accelerates time to market.

Interoperability testing is vital. Standards are very important but, no matter how detailed they are, variables can prevent different vendors’ equipment from working together seamlessly. Testbeds such as the one being established in New Hampshire are an important part of the process of finding and eliminating those flies in the ointment.

The SDN Consortium, which will officially launch on August 1, will test SDN applications and controllers against switches, no matter which standard or approach they follow. Interoperability testing will start immediately, with conformance and benchmarking to follow.

The idea of making it easier for different vendors to work in the same SDN environment drove another announcement. At Cisco Live!, Glue Networks said that it is updating is Gluware offering to offer more flexible deployments:


With this enhancement, network engineers can automate their brownfield multi-vendor network architectures, while providing enterprises with unprecedented control, security and awareness of the network state. Gluware is now available in both cloud-based and on-prem versions for large enterprises that require a behind-the-firewall implementation.

Plexxi is in the act as well, but perhaps in a slightly different way. SiliconANGLE today reported that the company has updated its platform. One of the key upgrades is enabling the system to work in “an organization’s existing infrastructure, which often involves working with components that don’t support software-defined networking out of the box.”  In other words, Plexxi’s gear is looking to fit in.

SDNs are the wave of the future. Recent research from Allied Market Research project said that the networking approach will enjoy a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 47 percent worldwide from this year to 2022. At that time, SDNs will be a $132.9 billion market. Likewise, Mordor Intelligence says that the category will have a CAGR of 39.44 percent from last year until 2020.

The precise growth numbers and CAGRs will sort themselves out. Suffice it to say that they will be impressive. That is, of course, if vendors and their supporting organizations figure out a way to ease the technology in seamlessly. The UNH-IOL and at least a couple of vendors have taken steps in the right direction.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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