Software Defined Networking – The next big networking wave !

Earlier I have blogged on CDN / TIC where the online content is being moved from the servers in content providers network to the networking gears in the service providers network in an aim to achieve higher speeds for content access. In contrary to that, SDN (Software defined networking) specifies a mechanism where the content could still be present in the content provider network, but the users could still achieve higher speeds in terms of accessing the contents if the gears in the network is fine-tuned.

Earlier this week, Google announced about its super secret Networking project powering its inter-data center  communication using SDN for most (all?) of Google’s services – Search, GMail etc. In addition to the brilliant algorithm that Google implements to retrieve the search results quickly, SDN also plays a major role for those magic speeds. Google calls this network as “G-Scale Network” which replaces the traditional routers from the networking giants with routers running Open source softwareOpenFlow.  It take real guts to run the network backbone infrastructure using experimental protocol like OpenFlow.  To take part in the growth of SDN, several OEM (original equipment manufacturers) started introducing the products which can run OpenFlow. The individual companies buying such products can opt for implementing the OpenFlow protocol.

How does OpenFlow work / operate?

Typically in a OpenFlow environment, the control plane will be running on independent servers and the data plane would be   running on the routers. The communication between the control plane and the data plane would be using the OpenFlow protocol.   The servers powering the control plane and equipped with better processors and the software to provide a better performance  when compared to the processors running on the network routers.  In addition to the performance improvement on the control  plane, it also provides better security for the control plane.   Ofcourse, this is at a very early stage and takes time to stabilize. 

Cisco which has been known for making proprietary software for routers have started facing the heat with the introduction of SDN  – which is going to define the networking in the decade to come. HP, IBM, Nicira Netowks, Big Switch Networks have already intoduced products supporting OpenFlow for SDN. To make sure Cisco also participates in the race for the decade defining innovation and does not loss the market share in SDN, Cisco  is planning to introduce SDN hardware in the next 6 months to a year.

Here are some of the key points about the notification from Google during the OpenNetworking summit .

The official agenda for OpenNetworkingSummit has some interesting information. I liked the first few slides from “Big Networks”  from Open Networking Summit 2012.

In my opinion, CDN and SDN would not be competing to win the title for “War of Titans”, but instead they would/should work together for enabling a powerful networking environment.

Also I have a workshop on SDN in mid of May and will be updating the blog with more information as I learn.

Please leave a comment on the question/thoughts.