SDN empowers networking innovation


Guest post written by Ahmad Zamer, HP Networking Sr. Global Product Marketing Manager


Software Defined Networking (SDN) is driving the most significant wave of change that networking has witnessed in a long time. SDN will open the flood gates of networking innovations and take the industry and data centers to new heights. HP is leading the way with a full and clear commitment to SDN and OpenFlow that is backed by the industry’s only complete SDN product line.


Some argue that SDN will commoditize network devices and stifle innovation. The truth is that innovations breed innovations and they accelerate progress to nurture a more robust and wider ecosystem. Let’s look at experiences similar to SDN and their impact on the server and storage industries.


Moving beyond simply servers


Once upon a time, servers used to be proprietary and vendor-specific with their own processors and operating systems. That made supporting the servers difficult and most importantly this specificity limited  the resources available to program the servers and create business applications for them. The limited platforms available for applications stifled investments and the availability of business applications. 


It took longer than one may have liked, but innovators finally showed up at the gates. They introduced computer processors with standard and publicly available instruction sets that engineers could utilize. Along with the instructions sets came standard operating systems that programmers could build applications for. These developments made the computing elements known entities and released the energies of innovators. The servers continued to evolve and improve, while there was a giant flood of business applications. Customers couldn’t be happier with the standard server, as well as the wide variety of business applications and the lower costs they brought with them.


Today, the networking industry is on the cusp of a new dawn that will demystify networking resources and open the flood gates of innovation. SDN and OpenFlow are the agents of the coming change because they transform the networking devices in the same way instruction sets and operating systems transformed servers. OpenFlow serves as a publicly available instruction set that enables one to communicate with networking devices in a well-known language.


This simple concept makes networking devices known entities that can be programed and manipulated in ways not available before. OpenFlow works hand in hand with what we call “SDN Controller”.  This is an application that resides on a server, monitors network traffic and provides a network view of the networking environment as opposed to the limited device-specific views available today.


Advancing network controls


Making the network interfaces known standard entities provides a comprehensive view of the network opens the doors of innovation. Customers can now use SDN controllers to better monitor, control and understand their networks. They can also develop networking applications to suit their needs take advantage of the SDN controller and the resources available for it.



Figure 1: OpenFlow and SDN open the doors of Innovations


One can expect a new generation of networking applications and software engineers that can innovate knowing that their application has an expanding market and a wider range of networking platforms. Networking devices will benefit from innovations and will continue to evolve and progress the in same way servers have.


HP is committed to SDN and OpenFlow and is leading the industry with innovations by providing complete SDN solutions. HP is the only company with full SDN offering that includes networking switches (29 of them), SDN controller and a set of SDN-enabled software applications. All of HP switches will be OpenFlow enabled before the end of 2013. The company SDN controller has been used to create applications for network security, public cloud and load balancing. I am sure it will create many more innovative applications.


SDN will drive waves of progress that will roll through the industry bringing standard networking devices, new applications and innovations that will reward customers with lower TCO and faster ROI.


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