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Plexxi Pulse – Looking Back and Ahead

As we embrace 2014, it’s important to focus on emerging trends to predict any industry changes this year and in the coming years

As we embrace 2014, it’s important to focus on emerging trends to predict any industry changes this year and in the coming years. Mike Bushong reviewed 2013 on the Plexxi blog and noted important events that will likely carry into this year, including how 2013 initiated SDN deployments and marked the year Cisco moved beyond networking. We will see what happens in 2014, but it is crucial to reflect before looking ahead. In our Plexxi video of the week, Dan Backman explains optics integration with electrical mediums like Ethernet, and how this transition from optical to electrical back to optical is called OEO. He discusses the significance of this translation and how Plexxi’s solution differs. Here is the video of the week and a few of my reads in the Plexxi Pulse – enjoy!

 

Jordan Novet at VentureBeat observes that Cisco and VMware have released new technology that seems more popular with analysts than purchasers. Jordan says many cloud providers, enterprises, and other buyers are choosing to stay with existing networking hardware and software, rather than Cisco and VMware’s new networking solutions. It will be interesting to see how overlays perform. The prerequisite for an overlay solution is the existence of a functional physical network, which means that the spend goes first to the physical and then the remainder to the virtual. If you have $100, you have to subtract out whatever your new capacity and refresh costs are. Whatever you are left with is the most that any overlay vendor can extract. This is why the white box effort is interesting. If it lowers prices, there is more value for VMware to grab. No surprise that they were cozy with past price leader Arista, and are now quite cordial with Cumulus.

SearchDataCenter reviews some major networking and IT trends to come in 2014, including cloud growth, big data and SDN. On the “Software-defined everything” prediction, it’s important to correctly frame how we discuss standards. The space is emerging still, and that means that meaningful standards are not yet complete. The OpenFlow work has been fantastic, but OpenFlow is just a part of the broader SDN framework that people ought to be watching. Whether the open source communities are driving meaningful code is also very interesting. OpenDaylight, as an example, should release code in January or February of 2014. Whether or not it is standard is less important than whether it is useful. Standards ought to lag adoption, because SDN is in its early stages. We still need to iterate on the technologies and architectures some.

Jim Duffy provides predictions for SDN in Network World this week, including foreseeing more implementations by end users, more deployments, and more vendor customization, among others. I would add that 2014 will be the year of the controller. We saw lots of debate about technologies and competing efforts in 2013, but the controller is the new focal point. The dialogue will shift away from the network to more of the periphery. How the network forwards traffic is interesting, but broader application workload abstraction is more important for orchestration. We should also see a push towards analytics, monitoring, billing, troubleshooting, and dynamic network tuning. The question will be whether the dialogue moves too fast for the average user who can dedicate only so much time to learning and keeping up to date. This is why the reference programs at all the vendors will be important, and for those who cannot keep up, professional services and systems integration will be the crutch. We should see those practices increase this year.

Network Computing’s contributor Tom Hollingsworth examines the SDN trends from 2013 and argues that proponents and detractors have been very focused on the tools for SDN. He says every vendor should ask themselves – how will the various SDN tools in my toolbox help me get things accomplished? I agree with the spirit behind this post, but I do think that people need to talk about and ultimately disambiguate the different tools in any SDN toolbox. I think Tom’s point is that the discussion is too low-level at the moment. I agree with this observation, particularly around arguing about OpenFlow ceased to be productive in 2012. It is a low-level component of a broader framework. We ought to be arguing the merits of the framework and then filling in the details with the appropriate SDN tool. I’d love to see people talk more about operational issues though. I wonder if our focus on some tools (largely forwarding tools) has hurt what could be a better discussion on integration, orchestration, workload abstraction, and monitoring/troubleshooting.

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More Stories By Michael Bushong

The best marketing efforts leverage deep technology understanding with a highly-approachable means of communicating. Plexxi's Vice President of Marketing Michael Bushong has acquired these skills having spent 12 years at Juniper Networks where he led product management, product strategy and product marketing organizations for Juniper's flagship operating system, Junos. Michael spent the last several years at Juniper leading their SDN efforts across both service provider and enterprise markets. Prior to Juniper, Michael spent time at database supplier Sybase, and ASIC design tool companies Synopsis and Magma Design Automation. Michael's undergraduate work at the University of California Berkeley in advanced fluid mechanics and heat transfer lend new meaning to the marketing phrase "This isn't rocket science."