Apache Authors: Pat Romanski, John Mertic, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Janakiram MSV

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, IoT User Interface, Apache, Cloud Security, @BigDataExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

SDN: Concrete or Concept?

Is SDN a concept, or a concrete architectural construct? Does it really matter?

Now, if we look at the benefits we can attempt to infer what the problems SDN is trying to solve:



Programmability Network components today, particularly hardware-based components, run specific feature sets that can only be modified by the vendor, which happens on a 12-18 month schedule, security and hot-fixes not withstanding. New features and functions can only be added by the vendor based on their prioritization, not the customer.
Automation Manual configuration of network components is time consuming, costly, and introduces a higher risk of human error that can result in outages, poor performance, or security risks.
Network control The network today doesn't adapt rapidly to changing conditions or events. While some protocols simulate such adaptability, these protocols can't autonomously route around outages or failures or modify existing policies easily.

These are certainly problems for IT organizations of a variety of sizes and composition. The question then is, how does SDN uniquely solve those problems?

The answer is that as a concrete solution (i.e. components, software, and architectures)  it does not uniquely solve the problem. As a concept, however, it does.

Someone's no doubt quite upset at the moment at that statement. Let's explain it before someone's head explodes.


The concept of separating data and control plane enables programmability. Without that separation, we have what we have today – static, inflexible networking components. But the concept of separating data and control planes isn't unique to solutions labeled specifically SDN. ADN is a good example of this (you saw that coming, didn't you?)

A network component can – and this may surprise some people – internally decouple control and data planes. Yeah, I know, right? And doing so enables a platform that looks a whole lot like SDN diagrams, doesn't it – with plug-ins and programmability. This occurs in full-proxy architectures when there exist dual stacks – one on the client side, one on the server side. Where traffic transitions from one stack to the other exists an opportunity to inspect, to manipulate, to modify, the traffic. Because the architecture requires acting as an endpoint to clients (and conversely as the point of origin for the server side), protocols can even be implemented in this "no man's land" between client and server. That enables protocol transitioning, such as enabling SPDY on the outside while still speaking HTTP on the inside or IPv4 to servers while supporting IPv6 on the client (and vice-versa).

Where the separation occurs is not necessarily as important as the fact that it exists – unless you're focused on concrete, SDN-labeled solutions as being the only solutions that can provide the flexibility that programmability offers.

Automation occurs by exposing the management plane through an API (or implementing a specific API, such as OpenFlow) such that operational tasks and configuration can be achieved through tools instead of time.

Between automation and programmability, you realize network control.

Now, this is not SDN, at least not in terms of protocol support and concrete architecture. But it is software-defined, and it is networking, so does it count?

I guess it depends. ADN has always approached layers 4-7 with an eye toward extensibility, programmability and control that enables agility in the network. We didn't call it SDN and I don't see the industry deciding to "SDN-wash" existing ADN solutions as SDN just because a new term came along and became the TLA du jour.

What I do see is that ADN and specifically full-proxy based ADC (application delivery controllers) already offer the same benefits using the same concepts as SDN. Consider again the core characteristics of SDN:

1. Control and data planes are decoupled

2. Intelligence and state are logically centralized

3. Underlying network infrastructure abstracted from applications

All of these characteristics are present in an ADN. The ability to leverage network-side scripting on the control plane side of the equation enables extensibility, rapid innovation, and ability to adapt to support new protocols, new applications, new business requirements – all without involving the vendor. Which is exactly one of the benefits cited for SDN solutions and specifically OpenFlow-enabled architectures.

So the question really is, does it matter if a solution to the problem of "agility in the network" is a concrete or conceptual SDN solution if it ultimately solves the same set of problems?

Read the original blog entry...

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.

@ThingsExpo Stories
WebRTC adoption has generated a wave of creative uses of communications and collaboration through websites, sales apps, customer care and business applications. As WebRTC has become more mainstream it has evolved to use cases beyond the original peer-to-peer case, which has led to a repeating requirement for interoperability with existing infrastructures. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Graham Holt, Executive Vice President of Daitan Group, will cover implementation examples that have enabled ea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Coalfire will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Coalfire is the trusted leader in cybersecurity risk management and compliance services. Coalfire integrates advisory and technical assessments and recommendations to the corporate directors, executives, boards, and IT organizations for global brands and organizations in the technology, cloud, health...
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Penta Security is a leading vendor for data security solutions, including its encryption solution, D’Amo. By using FPE technology, D’Amo allows for the implementation of encryption technology to sensitive data fields without modification to schema in the database environment. With businesses having their data become increasingly more complicated in their mission-critical applications (such as ERP, CRM, HRM), continued ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudbric, a leading website security provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudbric is an elite full service website protection solution specifically designed for IT novices, entrepreneurs, and small and medium businesses. First launched in 2015, Cloudbric is based on the enterprise level Web Application Firewall by Penta Security Sys...
WebRTC sits at the intersection between VoIP and the Web. As such, it poses some interesting challenges for those developing services on top of it, but also for those who need to test and monitor these services. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Tsahi Levent-Levi, co-founder of testRTC, reviewed the various challenges posed by WebRTC when it comes to testing and monitoring and on ways to overcome them.
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Embotics, the cloud automation company, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Embotics is the cloud automation company for IT organizations and service providers that need to improve provisioning or enable self-service capabilities. With a relentless focus on delivering a premier user experience and unmatched customer support, Embotics is the fas...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MathFreeOn will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MathFreeOn is Software as a Service (SaaS) used in Engineering and Math education. Write scripts and solve math problems online. MathFreeOn provides online courses for beginners or amateurs who have difficulties in writing scripts. In accordance with various mathematical topics, there are more tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Niagara Networks will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Niagara Networks offers the highest port-density systems, and the most complete Next-Generation Network Visibility systems including Network Packet Brokers, Bypass Switches, and Network TAPs.
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, will discuss how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team a...
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

OnProcess Technology has announced it will be a featured speaker at @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1 - 3, 2016, in Santa Clara, California. Dan Gettens, OnProcess’ Chief Analytics Officer, will discuss how Internet of Things (IoT) data can be leveraged to predict product failures, improve uptime and slash costly inventory stock. @ThingsExpo is an annual gathering of IoT and cloud developers, practitioners and thought-leaders who exchange ideas and insights on topics ranging from Big Data in...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...