On October 26th I attended the OpenFlow Symposium in San Jose, CA hosted by Packet Pushers and TechFieldDay at the DoubleTree San Jose. The purpose of this symposium was to help gain more exposure to OpenFlow as well as discuss what some of the major players see and feel about the technology. In attendance was representatives from Big Switch Networks, Brocade, Cisco, Google, Juniper, NEC, and Yahoo!. They each were allowed to present their views and feelings and then the panel was opened up for discussion and questions.
My take was that Google and Yahoo! are big into this technology as they have the most to gain from it. They run warehouse size data centers all over the world, and this type of technology has a huge benefit to them as it means they can develop their own controllers and control merchant silicon, thus releasing them from relying on other vendors network hardware to support their data center. Not only that, but they can help prioritize and track individual flows based on what the user is doing. For example – a person who is placing items in their carts and heading to checkout can have a higher priority flow over someone just looking around. The speed to finish the transaction is important to them, not to mention they can also secure that traffic in the network differently then a person who is just looking.
Cisco, Juniper, Brocade, Big Switch, and NEC are all interested in this technology and have basically committed to have support for it. The gentlemen from Cisco and Juniper showed their excitement and enthusiasm for the protocol – NEC did one better, they have it in the field! Now, I am sure that Cisco and Juniper have it out there as well in field trials, but NEC was able to say they have a shipping product already.
So, as you can see, OpenFlow has the vendors attention. They see the benefits of what this can bring to a Service Provider or a Campus, but I am still debating the impact for the Enterprise. My previous post on OpenFlow shows how you can use it, but it might be a bit too complex for a standard Enterprise to want to support. Places where you are multi-tenant, like SP networks and College Campuses, it has great potential for being able to segment traffic as well as provide a playground for testing without impacting a production network. To be honest, I have seen colleges do something similar with MPLS and segmenting traffic and protocols away from departments, so OpenFlow is definitely a technology they can deploy as well and make the network more dynamic where need be.
Here are links to other posts on this same topic from people who attended the symposium:
Ethan Banks – OpenFlow State of the Union
Tony Mattke – The OpenFlow Symposium
Derick Winkworth – More Open Flow Symposium Notes…
If I did not list your blog and you would like it added, please let me know.
Below are the vendors presentation for your viewing pleasure. Thanks to Stephen Foskett and Tech Field Day for providing these vidoes: