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Containers Expo Blog Authors: Liz McMillan, Roger Strukhoff, Zakia Bouachraoui, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

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Software Defined Networks (SDNs) - A History Lesson

[Gracely's Theorem - 99% of all new tech ideas are just old tech ideas + bandwidth + faster CPUs]

I'm a big fan of history, especially technology history, because it gives us such wonderful guidance about what to expect with each new "technology disruption". Just like the history of mankind, technology tends to follow repeatable trends, actions and mistakes.

The latest trend that I've been carefully watching is around Software Defined Networks (SDNs). Today's SDN discussions are primarily focused on how new paradigms will change the architecture of IP networks and how network-level services are delivered and managed. This shift is being led by companies like Big Switch, Nicira, Embrane , and Cumulus, but it's being closely watched by incumbents like Cisco, HP, IBM and Juniper. At the core of SDNs are a couple of basic principles:

  1. If the hardware and software functions of network equipment (switches, firewalls, etc.) were able to be decoupled from one another, then the industry would be better able to leverage the economics, advancements and speed of the individual components to more quickly enable new networking capabilities. Maybe new network capabilities enable new revenue opportunities (maybe...)
  2. By logically (or physically) separating the Control Plane and the Data Plane, more scalable and flexible network topologies could be built to better handle the needs of dynamic, web-scale networks.
  3. Technologies like server virtualization have radically changed the demands on the network (live migration of virtual machines, software based network services, etc.) and the network needs to evolve to accommodate these new application needs.
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More Stories By Brian Gracely

A 20 year technology veteran, Brian Gracely is VP of product management at Virtustream. He holds a CCIE #3077 and an MBA from Wake Forest University.

Throughout his career Brian has led Cisco, NetApp, EMC and Virtustream into emerging markets and through technology transitions. An active participant in the virtualization and cloud computing communities, his industry viewpoints and writing can also be found on Twitter @bgracely, on his blog Clouds of Change and his podcast The Cloudcast (.net). He is a VMware vExpert and was named a "Top 100" Cloud Computing blogger by Cloud Computing Journal.

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