Going Beyond Software-Defined Networking

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As the concept of software-defined networking (SDN) begins to take hold, the impact of this technology may go well beyond simply making networks easier to manage.

According to Allwyn Sequeira, vice president and CTO, networking and security, VMware, one of the more intriguing aspects of SDN is that it also serves to make core elements of the routers and switches available to developers as a set of services that can be invoked. By essentially making networking programmable from the perspective of the developer, SDN based on technologies such as OpenFlow should lead to the development of new classes of applications that are much more sophisticated than anything we see on the Web today.

To further that aim, VMware this week announced it has joined the Open Networking Research Center, a collaborative effort to explore SDN potential that is being led by Stanford University and the University of California at Berkley.

Sequeira is the first to admit that no one is sure where programmable SDN technology might lead. But Sequeira says it's also apparent that on some level, enterprise IT is fundamentally broken. It's not only too complex to manage, but the silos that exist between servers, storage and the network create a lot of unnecessary friction.

Of course, that friction has been building for more than 30 years now, so coming up with an overlay that will abstract away the complexities of IT infrastructure might take a little more time. The good news is that, in the meantime, a lot of really smart people are starting to come together to work on the problem.