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SDN: The view from HP

HP Virtual Application Networks: Delivering software-defined networking - Part 4


HP Virtual Application Networks: Delivering software-defined networking - Part 4

By Sarwar Raza, Director, Cloud Networking & SDN, Advanced Technology Group, HP Networking


sr.jpgAs HP unveils the first phase of a multi-pronged SDN product and solution strategy, I think it is prudent to take a step back and assess where we, and indeed, where the industry is heading. SDN has simultaneously fascinated, intrigued, befuddled and unnerved analysts, customers and vendors (not necessarily in that order).


Yet delivering on the promise of SDN—defined as a new way of dynamically applying business logic to network behavior—will take much more than just point product announcements and unbuttoning of previously closed APIs, full throated support for the protocol of the month, or premonitions of upcoming doom for incumbent networking vendors from upstarts and pundits alike.


Our customers are demanding more from infrastructure (bigger, faster, cheaper), and the key driver for SDN technologies and innovations is a sea-change in how those infrastructure services are, or ought to be consumed. Hardware-centric vendors attempting (feebly) to bedazzle customers with a dozen programmatic APIs under a fancy moniker are simply sweeping the problem under the rug. Other vendors advocate a software-centric approach where hardware is relegated to providing ‘dumb fat pipes’ (and not much else), and decades of networking know-how is re-implemented in software, at a fraction of current performance.


Just for a second, imagine a world bereft of these polar extremes: When network vendors can innovate and iterate at software development speeds, providing software like flexibility, all the while retaining the option to move those innovations into hardware to optimize performance, we will, as an industry, finally have responded to what our customers have been demanding of us.


How HP Networking is poised to lead the SDN charge.


Our SDN strategy is neither reactive, nor an attempt to stall the inevitable. HP’s commitment to the core technologies and protocols that ignited the SDN movement goes back to 2007. And our announcement of a centralized VAN SDN controller product (heresy coming from an incumbent vendor, some may say), to complement the hardware and software innovations native to our portfolio should send a strong signal to practitioners and armchair critics alike: the market will, and is defining what SDN is and isn’t. Our customers want to see advanced functionality and continued development of industry leading platform features in HP hardware and software, and a centralized control plane via an SDN controller is a logical extension of the way we think about our solutions. Recall that HP customers are already spoilt for a centralized, single pane experience in the management plane, courtesy of Intelligent Management Center (IMC).


HP’s own Saar Gillai blogged in some detail about the precise requirements for a solution to qualify as SDN. Let’s be clear: SDN is not and should not be a religious argument over centralized vs. de-centralized control, nor one that pits intelligent, omniscient god-boxes against autonomous agents and endpoints. One protocol or a standardized orchestration model do not an SDN make (though they may help).The end goal of SDN is the ability to insert, manage and maintain fluidity in how applications interact with the network, and to ensure that the network can dynamically react to the changing needs and demands of its users and applications, without requiring human middleware.


SDN and cloud


Cloud and web-scale properties bring these requirements to the forefront today. Their scalability and automation challenges, complicated by workload mobility and availability demands, have fostered a slew of overlay network solutions that go some way towards meeting current requirements. But network virtualization is not, and should not be construed as the end game. It is merely the beginning. An abstracted network infrastructure is a key piece in how the promise of SDNs is realized, but it will take a concerted, interdisciplinary effort, spanning beyond network vendors and their immediate ecosystem to realize SDN’s true potential. Nor is SDN the exclusive province of the data center. Cloud provider and early adopter use cases are mere harbingers of a wide swathe of applications across all segments of the enterprise, and we are excited to be working with customers on realizing solutions to pressing problems in the campus and branch utilizing SDN concepts.


As we move towards a common understanding of what SDN is and isn’t, HP’s market leadership across Converged Infrastructure (servers, storage and networking), network and application performance management, IT orchestration and our stewardship of evolving protocols and frameworks (OpenFlow and Openstack among them) positions us uniquely to address the needs of customers across all market segments.


SDN isn’t just about creating scalable virtual LANs for data centers, but rather a means of fostering an influx of innovation and new service models in networking, via a programmatic control plane. Its true value is unrealizable without a complete ecosystem of SDN enabled physical and virtual devices, a reliable, scalable and open controller, a suite of applications delivering network services as a part of the network/compute substrate, a management infrastructure which can take advantage of it all, and monitoring and orchestration software to deploy these newly liberated features and services.


We’re off to a great start at HP. Stay tuned. And let us hear from you with your views on SDN.

Read more blogs on HP Networking and SDN.


And what about services for SDN? A successful SDN initiative calls for a wide view of the implications for your people and processes as well as your technology.  HP can show you the HOW of SDN—with comprehensive portfolio of services for Software Defined Networking and Virtual Application Network. we can help you can get started right now, because our practical transformational approach is proven in other domains, such as cloud. Check out our three new SDN services:


  • The HP Transformation Experience Workshop gives you insight into SDN transformation benefits and IT implications from the perspective of people, process and technology.
  • The HP Network Provisioning Baseline Assessment Service helps you assess your current network resource provisioning time to deploy applications
  • The HP SDN Proof of Concept Service helps you assess and report provisioning time improvements achieved with HP VAN technologies

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