infoTECH Feature

January 15, 2013

Ovum: SDN Gaining Steam in Data Center, Wireless Carrier Implementations

Traditional networks rely on dedicated gear and nailed up connections. But our nomadic lifestyles, unpredictable networking requirements, and desire for more elastic resources have given rise to cloud computing and network virtualization. And now, the software-defined network has come along to help address today’s network requirements as well.

“One of the definitions [of SDN] flows around the Open Networking Foundation and OpenFlow,” David Krozier, principal analyst of network infrastructure at research firm Ovum, tells TMCnet. “I think that definition is rather restrictive. I really see SDN as an architectural concept that includes abstraction of the physical network, programmability, network virtualization. I think it’s really a movement toward a much more flexible network.”

While SDN can apply to any point (access, metro or core) in wireless or wireline carrier or enterprise networks, Krozier says that data center interconnect is one of the big applications driving SDN deployments right now.

There are a significant number of data center SDN deployments, he says, because every major university is participating in one of the research network implementations of software-defined networking using OpenFlow. It doesn’t take much work to deploy this kind of thing, he adds, saying you just get a couple of switches, some software, a connection to the university network, and you have an SDN lab. In fact, HP alone has more than 60 such deployments, he adds.

Meanwhile, enterprise deployments of SDN are “very small,” says Krozier, and service providers are using, or at least testing, SDN.

Google (News - Alert) is one of the big names that has come out in support of SDN and is using SDN on one of its backbone networks, says Krozier.

Several telcos are also working with SDN, he adds.

“NTT (News - Alert) has been a big proponent of SDN in general, and NTT actually as far as I can tell is offering the first commercial service based on SDN,” he says. “The service is called enterprise cloud and uses an OpenFlow-enabled network to migrate virtual machines between data centers. It’s something that’s being offered in Asia today.”

AT&T (News - Alert) has also deployed Nicera software, Krozier adds, but he says he’s not clear exactly what the telco is doing with it, adding that could’ve just been for trial purposes.

As for Verizon (News - Alert), Krozier says that telco is leveraging SDN technology to control the quality of experience of video on wireless networks. They’re using it to control the quality of experience for video delivery.

“There’s a lot out there about SDN and [the] data center, but I think where SDN will have a lot of impact in carrier networks is in wireless networks,” Krozier says.

To learn more about SDN, join me at the Software Defined Networking pre-conference workshop on Tuesday, Jan. 29. The SDN event will be part of TMC's ITEXPO (News - Alert) Miami 2013 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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