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SDN prompts more questions than answers

Jim Duffy | May 16, 2014
ONX conference finds strong appetite for more information

"We actually love a confused marketplace," said William Thirsk, vice president of information technology and CIO at Marist College. "We like competitors to slug it out."

Thirsk also extolled the virtues of open source SDN controllers and applications over vendor-specific alternatives.

"Everything we can do open source we select that," he said. "We love open source."

And they learned that the strongest motivation for moving to SDN is staring them right in the face.

"The real driver was our network," said Richard Sillito, IT security technologist at Canadian airliner WestJet, rattling off a litany of issues with oversubscription, single points of failure, aging hardware, poor design, complexity, and changing traffic patterns: from North/South to East/West. "When PCI compliance auditing finds you have an FWSM (Firewall Services Module) with 1,500 lines of code, the network is the problem."

The benefits of networking and security as a pooled resource will be worth the effort, Sillito promises.

"Everything in your data center is software definable and able to be controlled," he said. "And the road to automation is the road to self-service."

But SDN is also forcing networkers to broaden their scope, says Robert Cannistra, a Marist professor who runs the Computer Science and Mathematics School's SDN Innovation Lab.

"You can't put network blinders on anymore," he said. "You have to learn about the business strategy behind this. I guarantee you'll be better off."

Source: Network World


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