March 18th, 2014
It was so simple; the separation of network hardware from software through a protocol called OpenFlow would open up the networking industry by injecting innovation into a vertically integrated industry. Specialized network hardware, called routers and switches, would give way to low cost white box alternatives, built in Asia, that were centrally controlled by software running on x86 commodity hardware. The networking industry would split into three parts: those that sold data forwarding gear, controller software and network applications. Well, that was 2010, and the reality is that this model of Open Networking has not materialized in the enterprise market—perhaps in a few operator and hyperscale networks, but not the real markets: the enterprise and public sector environments. Open Networking has taken on a life of its own. Overlays or virtualized networking are coming into their own; white box solutions without OpenFlow are being piloted in the enterprise and deployed in select cloud providers and operator networks; Linux is being considered as a network operating system to enable automation and normalize management tools across compute, storage and networking. The wide area, and in particular, branch office networking is about to undergo a fundamental change, thanks to new open networking solutions entering the market that promise radically lower cost, centralized policy provisioning control and service enablement. Hardware appliances are under attack in both branch office and data centers as vendors start to offer network service virtualization or NSV. Open networking security, or the lack thereof, is now coming into focus as is the killer SDN application: IP storage. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we provide a snapshot of the fast-pace changes occurring in Open Networking.
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