Thursday, November 20, 2014

Blueprint: Six Major Hurdles to SDN Adoption

by Charanya Balasubramanian, Veryx Technologies

SDN promises to provide an architecture that empowers enterprises and service providers to realize a high degree of network automation, agility and, a decrease in overall costs of the network. By decoupling the control and forwarding planes, SDN provides a logically centralized control and programmable layer. Thus SDN accelerates service deployment and reduces operating expenses across multi-vendor platforms.

Hurdles for SDN

In the path of trying to realize the promise of SDN however, there are certain major hurdles that SDN implementers could potentially face. Given below is a list of six of these potential hurdles and the ways to tackle them.

Lack of standards for total SDN deployment
While notable standard groups such as the ONF focus on the development and standardization of SDN, the industry is not fully equipped with standards to benchmark SDN implementations. This indeed challenges SDN adoption, since the scope of test performance and interworking capabilities of SDN have not been defined. However, the ONF’s conformance test specification for OpenFlow protocol and a recent IETF draft for SDN controller benchmarking (co-authored by Veryx), could show a standards-based pathway for of measuring performance in a standardized manner.

Performance in centralized networks
While centralization of control enables the network to be highly programmable and agile, in reality, it could also tend to create a performance bottlenecks. Hence, in comparison with the distributed networks, the overall performance of centralized networks is more susceptible to poor quality of experience. The network must be capable to support dynamic programming without compromising on performance as committed in the SLAs. Thus, if performance characteristics such as latency and throughput are tested at various instances, one can be sure that the SDN-based network delivers equal if not better performance.

Lack of confidence in reliability of SDN approach
SDN’s single point of control leads to concerns regarding its reliability. Hence, SDN’s capability to deliver high availability and resiliency should be validated especially under exceptional and error prone conditions. In order to ensure the controller’s capability in guaranteeing availability, rapid notification, switching and convergence of data path during failures, need to be verified since they play a crucial role in making SDN reliable.

Scalability for virtualized network
SDN architecture facilitates both physical and virtual networks in order to deliver various networking services with speed and agility. For SDN to support highly flexible and massively scalable architecture, networks need to support automated provisioning of large scale flows. Thus, before deploying SDN, the network’s capabilities to support dynamic provisioning of flows and the degree of scalability need to be verified. Moreover, since SDN supports dynamic scalability, the controller’s ability to handle infrastructure modification requests and the extent to which it can scale should be verified.

Coexistence with legacy networks
SDN allows end-to-end network automation through coordination and integration with devices at the edge and legacy networks. An SDN-based network is expected to support legacy networking elements and frameworks, which would enable to support end-to-end services. Thus, it is important to verify the interoperability of SDN network with the legacy networks/systems.

Vulnerabilities of centralization
While centralization of control is beneficial, security of centralized approach is a major concern for SDN adopters, as it could hamper the overall network availability. Hence controller support and recovery mechanisms from possible attacks must be evaluated. In addition, the support for enabling real-time traffic monitoring, pro-active detection and prevention of malicious attacks, authentication and authorization access to controller have to be verified.

About Veryx
Veryx offers SDN testing solutions that encompass conformance, performance benchmarking and network emulation for SDN controllers and switches. Veryx PktBlaster SDN is an integrated test solution for benchmarking SDN controllers. Veryx ATTEST solution offers automated test cases that comprehensively test for OpenFlow protocol conformance.

About the Author
Charanya Balasubramanian is the Product Manager at Veryx Technologies. Charanya handles product management efforts for SDN and emerging technologies at Veryx. She has over five years of experience in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) industry spanning across several technologies including virtualization and cloud computing. She holds a Master’s degree in Strategy and Marketing from XLRI, Jamshedpur, India and Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Anna University, Chennai, India.

Bob Metcalfe on Innovation and the Net Neutrality Debate

Innovation in networking technologies is accelerating.  The debate on NetNeutrality is back in the public square.

Speaking at #GEN14 conference in Washington D.C., Bob Metcalfe, Professor, Electrical Engineering & Director of Innovation, shares his views on Net Neutrality.

Filmed at Metro Ethernet Forum's #GEN14 conference in Washington, D.C.

One Minute Video:

Wedge Networks Leverages NFV for Cloud Network Defense

Wedge Networks, a start-up headquartered in Calgary, introduced its Cloud Network Defense (CND) technology as a means to deliver high levels of cyber security within service provider networks.  Wedge supplies an embedded operating system that enables the delivery of a variety of security functions running on commodity servers.

Unlike current security technologies that rely on proprietary hardware or require security providers to direct traffic to third party infrastructure for inspection, Wedge's Cloud Network Defense integrates Deep Content Inspection (DCI) and Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) with advanced software to direct and load-balance computing resources – including spawning off and ‘shrinking’ instances, which normally executes in hardware. The architecture leverages SDN and NFV to ensure scalability, elasticity (dynamic reallocation per demand), ubiquitous availability, and high capacity for the cloud centric networks.

NFV-S is the heart of Cloud Network Defense's Elastic Security Services Orchestration.  Working as a pooled resource, it dynamically applies specific policy based security inspection to specific user device traffic in response to network load.

The company notes that it is the only cloud security solution to perform high-performance content inspection without requiring traffic to leave the network. Malware signatures can be licensed from the top providers.

“Cloud Network Defense will transform the way security is delivered” says Dr Hongwen Zhang, president and CEO of Wedge Networks. “It is a cloud based software platform leveraging SDN and NFV technology to perform what we call Elastic Security Services Orchestration™. Our software makes it easy for service providers to offer embedded security as a scalable, high performance service for cloud connected networks. Web, email and mobile security policy can now be unified and optimized across all network traffic and all devices, anytime, anywhere”.

Wedge Networks is already deployed globally and serving a number of top tier mobile operators.

Tech Mahindra Expands in Network Services with LCC Acquisition

Tech Mahindra has agreed to acquire Lightbridge Communications Corporation (LCC), a leading provider of network engineering services, for approximately US$240 million. The acquisition expands Tech Mahindra's presence in network services globally.

LCC, which is based in McLean, Virginia, is the largest independent network services company worldwide and has played a key role in the engineering of over 350 networks.  The company has designed more than 350,000 cell sites for over 400 customers and has worked with all major access technologies (LTE, WiMAX, HSPA, EV-DO, CDMA, EDGE and GSM). LCC claims annual revenues of over $400 million and has some 5,000 employees in 50 countries.

Tech Mahindra is a US$3.4 billion company with 95,300+ professionals across 51 countries. It has deep expertise in software, consulting, integration and operations services.  The company, has been a leading provider of IT services to telecom operators since its founding, said this acquisition brings it new opportunities in network engineering at a time when many networks are going through significant transformation.  Tech Mahindra is aligned with major network equipment suppliers.

“This acquisition is a defining moment for Tech Mahindra and the network services sector. We will now be the largest and most comprehensive provider of technology services to Communications Service Providers. Our 25 years of rich experience in delivering technology solutions to enterprises and communications service providers globally will be significantly strengthened by this acquisition,” stated CP Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra.

“This partnership is another significant step towards the globalization of Tech Mahindra as we welcome a diverse workforce of over 5,000 network professionals across five continents and more than 50 countries. We expect network services to be a major growth engine for our organization,” stated Vineet Nayyar, Executive Vice Chairman, Tech Mahindra.

“Over three decades, LCC has grown to become the largest independent provider of wireless engineering services. Bringing LCC into Tech Mahindra will create the industry’s largest network engineering, deployment, and managed services organization,” said Kenneth Young, CEO of LCC. “Having Tech Mahindra’s breadth of services to provide advanced managed network services coupled with its size and scale, will help us increase the performance of our customers’ ever-evolving networks,” he added.

Vitesse Extends Ethernet to IoT with Protocol Stack

Vitesse Semiconductor introduced its IStaX protocol stack to simplify deployment and management of Industrial-IoT network applications such as Industrial Ethernet switching, surveillance, video distribution, LCD signage, intelligent sensors, and metering equipment.

The software is designed to work across Vitesse’s extensive portfolio of Ethernet switches and PHYs to simplify Ethernet networking and connectivity with various capabilities including:

  • IEEE 1588 PTP protocol support with Vitesse’s VeriTime to support deterministic network requirements, critical for high-precision industrial control systems;
  • Rich set of L2/L3 features enabling customers to segment industrial from Enterprise networks, and optimize the former for maximum bandwidth and uptime; and
  • Ethernet ring protection ensuring continued operations during equipment service disruption or failure, meeting the most demanding operational requirements of control systems.

“Vitesse tripled its Industrial-IoT customer base over the past year. As the IoT continues expanding, the number of companies requiring networking know-how will only proliferate,” noted Larry O’Connell, product marketing director at Vitesse. “Our goal is to make their path to market as easy as possible by leveraging Vitesse’s expertise in Ethernet networking, security and timing synchronization. As we’ve proven in Carrier markets, our turnkey IC and software solutions can reduce time-to-market for Industrial-IoT equipment by nearly 70%.”

Telefónica Teams with Geotab on M2M for Fleets

Telefónica announced a partnership with Geotab to provide M2M fleet transport telematics technology in Spain, Germany and the U.K. with the intention to explore Latin American markets in the near future.

The solution, which includes Geotab’s plug-and-play device, offers real time fleet management and the ability to develop a number of alerts, notifications, and review driver trip and activity reports. Advanced features also include on-board diagnostics through engine indicators to return feedback, such as engine failures, or an in-depth engine fault code diagnosis; detect accidents and retrace cause of the accident; and allow add-ons such as a navigational device, NFC driver ID key, sensors and more.

MACOM Acquires BinOptics for Indium Phosphide Lasers

M/A-COM Technology Solutions Holdings (MACOM) agreed to acquire BinOptics Corporation, a merchant provider of Indium Phosphide lasers, for $230 million in cash.

BinOptics' highly differentiated edge-emitting and surface-emitting Fabry Perot and DFB lasers are used in applications such as data centers, mobile backhaul, silicon photonics and access. The company has developed proprietary Etched Facet Technology (EFT) for lasers that enable compelling wafer-scale economics in both device manufacturing and testing. The company is based in Ithaca, New York.

MACOM is a leading supplier of high performance RF, microwave, and millimeter wave products.