Sunil Khandekar, founder and CEO of Nuage Networks, says that 2016 will be a big year for SDN as adoption barriers drop and more commercial deployments demonstrate real-world benefits
Vision 2016: How much traction will we see for SDN in the telecoms space in 2016?
Sunil Khandekar: Adoption of SDN will continue during 2016. We have seen a lot of traction this year with both traditional telcos and cloud service providers deploying our SDN technologies to broaden their service offerings. 2015 has been an important year for SDN - we’ve seen the market mature from being oriented toward the future to one that provides real value today. This will only accelerate in the year to come.
Vision 2016 Supplement
Where in the network will telco service providers likely implement SDN first?
One SDN use case is to augment existing IP-VPN services with a more dynamic SDN-based solution set. SDN also is being used as the agile networking fabric for NFV. With core network functions - think IMS, CDNs and mobile core EPC - SDN makes those functions more flexible in adjusting to user demand. In other cases, customer service network features like firewalls, intrusion detection and security appliances are being virtualized. SDN allows for the service-chaining of these features into the customer’s VPN service. Both are exciting use cases for the technology. The automation and agility benefits are huge! Uptake will only increase.
What obstacles remain for SDN migration?
There are fewer and fewer, as we’ve addressed the most important technical issues. The protocol stack for SDN has consolidated around open standards such as OVSDB and MP-BGP, and we have seen the ecosystem for vendor interoperability mature. The same is true with legacy interworking - there is good support for including legacy, or bare metal, workloads into the SDN fabric. It just isn’t an issue any longer.
Why are SDN overlays the future?
The simplest answer is choice. SDN breaks the cycle of single vendor solutions. Gone are the days of ripping and replacing perfectly adequate network hardware investments just because of a new network feature or protocol. SDN overlays also provide comprehensive, consistent security as micro-segmentation capabilities for application and workload isolation. Yet another benefit is support for namespaces isolation and for overlapping IP addressing allowing for multi-tenancy.
With SDN the network intelligence is separated from the network transport and deployed at the network edge, be that at the hypervisor in the data center or at the customer branch. This allows you to choose when and where you upgrade your network hardware based on capacity. The industry is already seeing the benefits of this choice with a number of white box and competitive hardware vendors that are more than happy to slot into the SDN ecosystem and benefit from solutions such as the Nuage Networks portfolio.
Data centers are playing an increasing role in planning network architectures. What are the benefits of an SDN solution that connects the datacenter and the WAN?
Data centers are where applications reside, and are primed to benefit from the agility and flexibility of SDN. Application users, on the other hand, are on the end of the WAN at remote business branch locations. To offer pure seamless networking between the application and the users, you need a single networking fabric - not network islands as it is today.
Our Virtualized Services Platform delivers on this premise. It’s a single policy-based management framework that controls the connectivity from the application all the way to the branch regardless of the network transport or hardware vendor used. After all if you choose an SDN solution that addresses only applications or only addresses users, the other half of the problem still exists.
This article was first published in Telecom Asia Vision 2016 Supplement