SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Software-defined networking (SDN) is a grand vision in an early development phase based on talks and demos at the third annual Open Networking Summit here. Demos of a dozen working switches and a handful of merchant chips showed the promise of future open, programmable networks.
The event is put on in cooperation with the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) which aims to make its OpenFlow protocol a keystone for future virtualized networks. The talks and demos showed OpenFlow itself is still in an early stage of development, let alone all the pieces yet to be wrapped around it.
“You have an interesting opportunity to reinvent networking,” said Vint Cerf, a co-developer of the Internet Protocol and now an Internet evangelist for Google, one of the big backers of SDN and OpenFlow (below).
SDN aims to use a protocol such as OpenFlow to separate routers and switches that move packets from control programs running on servers that manage them. The shift could bring big changes in comms software, systems and silicon.
The separation of control and data planes “is a great idea that I wish we had used for the Internet,” Cerf said. In an opening keynote he gave more than 1,500 attendees here several pieces of advice based on his work getting the Internet off the ground 40 years ago:
- “You can brand implementations and services, but please don’t brand the protocols-- patenting won’t be your friend.”
- Adopt loose coupling to avoid high performing but brittle systems
- Use visible formats to ease interoperability, but hide their underlying details in layers or modular designs.
- Open source code is a helpful way to get started.
- Try to keep networking “free and open…so that you don’t need to ask for permission to build an app, you just put it out there.”
- SDN could be used someday to create networks out of mixed wireless and wired media, including TV white spaces and casually-deployable Internets of Things.
- Keep in mind that “SDN could change the economics of communications…causing businesses to adapt or die.”