So after a nice round-table discussion at Networking Field Day 11 we are again trying to define SDN in the Campus, something that's been around for some time now. Terry Slattery kicked this conversation off and it kinda morphed from there. But the fact that we're still trying to define it tells me that there are still an enormous mass of people out there that don't have any idea what's happening in data networking today. You can watch the round-table discussion in the following video, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts on SDN and it's features, along with a recommendation as to where you can go to learn a bit more.
Greg Ferro published his definition and I have to agree with what Greg wrote. SDN is not a single thing. SDN is a shift in how networking is being done today. So here's how I see it.
- SDN has a strong tie to Apps and API's. There should be software-based applications that provide a single interface for device configurations.
- SDN has monitoring capabilities that make the traditional network monitoring capabilities look like a peeping-tom with a pair of binoculars sitting in a tree across the street. The new network is and end-to-end monitoring with visibility that's better than before.
- SDN makes use of API's to decouple the software from the hardware, eliminating vendor lock-in and giving us the ability to move from vendor to vendor without a significant expense in new hardware.
SDN is not scary. It's the future, even though we're probably not going to be calling it SDN. Rather we'love probably just call it “networking.” So take the time right now to learn about networking. A great site geared toward learning is http://www.sdnskills.com/ by Wendell Odom. Tom Hollingsworth wrote a piece on SDN after ONUG back in 2013 with some great references. In fact, if you start searching for SDN you're probably going to be overwhelmed. So, maybe just start with Wendells site and then start branching out from there.
Things may seem a bit murky right now but in time that will all go away. We can't just give a single straight-forward definition because SDN is still something that vendors and IT organizations are wrapping their head around. As already mentioned, at some point this will just be called “Networking.”