Welcome!

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Cloud Security

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

The SDN Chicken and the Standardization Egg

Which came first?

Pundits, owing to SDN still being very young and not widely adopted, continue to put forth treatise upon treatise as to why organizations should be falling over themselves to go out and get themselves some SDN. Now. Not tomorrow, today.

One of the compelling reasons to adopt is to address a variety of operational issues that arise from complexity and differentiation in network elements. The way SDN addresses this - as do a variety of other options - is standardization. Note this is standardization with a little "s", not the capital "S" that might imply industry-agreed-upon-and-given-an-RFC standardization.

The claim is simple: organizations have a whole lot of various standalone appliances in their network serving a variety of purposes. Load balancing, firewalls, IDS/IPS, application acceleration, and even identity and access control. All these individual appliances are (generally) from different vendors, each requiring their own management console, their own policy formats, their own.... everything.

The argument goes that if you take all those services and deploy them as services on a (common) network operating system, you'll reduce complexity and all the associated management (operational) overhead. Rainbows will sprout from the network and unicorns will dance merrily from node to node while sprinkling happy dust on your engineers and operators.

Okay, maybe the rainbows and unicorns aren't part of the promise, but the nirvana implied by this consolidation on a standardized (common) network operating system is.

Now, I'm not saying this isn't true. It could be*. You can get standardization (theoretically, at least) from SDN at the upper layers of the stack, but it isn't SDN itself that elevates the data center to a level closer to operational nirvana, it's the standardization on a common platform. SDN is (theoretically) just one path to achieve that standardization.

The Layer 4-7 Landscape

The reason achieving this is more difficult than it sounds is that there are far more functions at layer 4-7 that need to be "standardized". Organizations do, in fact, end up with a hodge-podge of appliances deployed to support all the various layer 4-7 services required. Let me illustrate with a diagram (that is itself incomplete. There are a whole lot of services that go in the "layer 4-7 category"):

the difference

Are organizations struggling with the proliferation of devices at layer 4-7? Absolutely. I've heard stories of folks with 20 or more different vendors operating at layer 4-7 in their network. Not kidding. And every day, every new challenge brings another new solution to the table. Mobility and cloud - not to mention security - are driving the identification of new problems and challenges which in turn drives the proliferation of new solutions that often (though not always) come in the form of a nice, neat box to deploy in the network.

The way in which this proliferation (and its associated overhead) can be effectively addressed is through standardization. That doesn't require SDN, though SDN may be one way in which such standardization is achieved. Standardization - or more apropos - the consolidation of application (that's layer 4-7) network services onto a common platform is what brings that benefit.

* It could be if we ever figure out how to deploy said services in such an architecture without forcing the controller to be part of the data path.

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

Latest Stories
Technology vendors and analysts are eager to paint a rosy picture of how wonderful IoT is and why your deployment will be great with the use of their products and services. While it is easy to showcase successful IoT solutions, identifying IoT systems that missed the mark or failed can often provide more in the way of key lessons learned. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Peter Vanderminden, Principal Industry Analyst for IoT & Digital Supply Chain to Flatiron Strategies, will focus on how IoT depl...
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at Dell EMC, introduced a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organization...
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now ...
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, looked at differ...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
"Splunk basically takes machine data and we make it usable, valuable and accessible for everyone. The way that plays in DevOps is - we need to make data-driven decisions to delivering applications," explained Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk and @DevOpsSummit Conference Chair, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Logz.io is a log analytics platform. We offer the ELK stack, which is the most common log analytics platform in the world. We offer it as a cloud service," explained Tomer Levy, co-founder and CEO of Logz.io, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, ...
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Robert Doyle, lead architect at eCube Systems, will examine the issues and need for an agile infrastructure and show the advantages of capturing developer knowledge in an exportable file for migration into production. He will introduce the use of NXTmonitor, a next-generation DevOps tool that captures application environments, dependencies and start/stop procedures in a portable configuration file with an easy-to-use GUI. In addition to captur...
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Due of the rise of Hadoop, many enterprises are now deploying their first small clusters of 10 to 20 servers. At this small scale, the complexity of operating the cluster looks and feels like general data center servers. It is not until the clusters scale, as they inevitably do, when the pain caused by the exponential complexity becomes apparent. We've seen this problem occur time and time again. In his session at Big Data Expo, Greg Bruno, Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of StackIQ...
One of the hottest areas in cloud right now is DRaaS and related offerings. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Dale Levesque, Disaster Recovery Product Manager with Windstream's Cloud and Data Center Marketing team, will discuss the benefits of the cloud model, which far outweigh the traditional approach, and how enterprises need to ensure that their needs are properly being met.
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and Containers together help companies to achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of D...
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, John Jelinek IV, a web developer at Linux Academy, will discuss why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers...
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...