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SDN Event Expands Horizons

Jul 20, 2012

This week, I presented a session on the “Open Networking Foundation: Innovating in Technology and Standardization for User Benefit” at the ESCC/Internet2 Joint Techs Summer Conference at Stanford University. It was inspiring for me to see the evolution taking place in SDN technology for growth in the sciences, engineering, humanities, and the arts. This event further proved to me how influential OpenFlow® and SDN can be.

The ESCC/Internet2 Joint Techs conferences have drawn together advanced networking engineers since 1998 and have featured top-notch tutorials, presentations, and demonstrations of state-of-the-art high performance networking technologies for the biggest research institutions. This year’s event was no exception.

The future and growth of SDN held major interest and was the focal-point of an entire day at the event. With around 250 leading scientific researchers, vendors, and experts in the space, the presentations were vast and varied. A couple that caught my attention were:

  • Sessions on SDN in campus networking: These included discussions on OpenFlow® deployments at universities, SDN and its use by Big Science, and SDN implementations and architectures.
  • Sessions on SDN in the data center: These discussions were focused on control and use of SDN and OpenFlow® in the data center, focusing on user benefits and growth.

There were also engaging presentations on SDN as a disruptive technology and SDN end-to-end/WANs. Commonly cited benefits include centralized traffic management and bandwidth allocation (especially for widely diverse user populations in one infrastructure), much higher utilization of both servers and links, fewer failures and faster recovery when they do happen, simplified configuration and management, and faster development of features and services.

During my session and all throughout the event, there was a positive vibe and interest in the overall SDN movement, and in ONF. We discussed how users are driving the demand, and vendors are seeing the need to continue growing in this effort. In previous years, we discussed researching networking and SDN. This year, the focus was how we are using SDN to foster a variety of work, including new vistas of research in networking again. I spoke to people who are using this technology in research at places like NASA, as well as implementations in campus environments, such as Clemson. Ultimately, at this year’s event, I learned that by stepping outside of a research setting and into functionality and use, OpenFlow® is now allowing networking to move toward newer technologies, opening the doors for continued growth and expansion in this field. For me, just seeing so many big brains in one room thinking about these ideas was a thrill.

--Dan Pitt

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Dan Pitt