Lets chat about Software Defined Networking


Supreme [H]ardness
Dec 22, 2002
We all know the big buzz phrase this year is SDDC, Software Defined Data Center. With that comes a necessary transition away from how traditional network services are delivered, especially in a Virtualized Infrastructure.

One of the more obvious acquisitions was VMware's purchase of Nicira, but what does this really mean on a hardware front? It seems too me that VMware may be distancing itself from some of its core networking partners by removing control and functionality
to software running in the virtualized stack away from the actual physical network devices themselves. While I realize that some of this is already being done with the vCloud Networking & Security product, IMHO this move will make the functionality in core network devices go away? I can see future physical network infrastructure "dumb" devices that will handle Layer 1 and 2 with core network services handled at the virtual layer down to the VM at some point.

How will network hardware vendors stay competitive? Cisco, HP, etc? The only way I see it is that they need to bring their own set of software based solutions, Cisco, of course seems to be grasping that to some extent, however the other vendors aren't really bringing anything to the table.

Should be interesting to see how this will play out. A pretty good video here:


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The main thing in my mind is separation though security. The network is such a critical and potentially vulnerable piece, that it is scary in many ways to start layering it AIO with everything else.

I know the same was though originally by many with server virtualization, but IMO the servers and the network are two very different animals.
We actually bought a pair of F5 load balancers because of the anticipated release of VXLAN support. We are going to use it to extend our DMZ.

I think that in order for SDN to gain full adoption across the market it will take a bit of help from hardware manufacturers so that SDN will operate at wire speed. Ultimately I dont anticipate it pushing the hardware folks out of the way, but instead refocusing their platform development in the datacenter as most of the modern world moves to near 100% virtualization.
A lot of the same fears that came from server virtualization will exist with SDN.

Personally, I think the pushback from internal technical folks will be what slows down adoption rates. Server virtualization was such a huge benefit for server admins that it was welcomed with almost open arms. I have a hard time thinking that a bunch of traditional Cisco/HP/whatever shops are just going to take the same liking to SDN. I love the idea of it all, turning network equipment into nothing more than IP-backplanes thus creating a whole bunch of marketplace competition.

Although vCNS is the tip of the iceberg, setting up firewalls, load balancers, etc is awesome from somebody in my position getting to deploy things that rapidly, I would normally count the seconds until you would see a network engineer roll their eyes when you try explaining your double NAT workload on a virtual wire. On a smaller scale, I can see conversations like that being the big pushback.
SDN is good for lots of weak powered devices. Currently, it can't come close to raw performance of the fastest network hardware. There is room for both.