back to article SDN: It's living the dream – and just using what you've got

Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) are growing in importance. Genuine interest around them is growing fast, faster even than the hype would indicate. This is having some curious knock-on effects. Networking vendors are cautious about SDN and NFV, as both trends threaten to commoditise …

  1. gr00001000


    While the central management is the number 1 plus point on SDN networking, the Openflow langauge used by vendors such as ARISTA is an new complex language used for scripting that must be learnt. So there is additional pressure on IT pros when moving to this kit.

  2. jackandhishat


    This is seriously clever stuff. I'm due to finally buy a house next year and I suspect some room will be set aside for building a lab to try this kind of stuff out. The funny / sad thing is that I don't expect to see it in my working life for quite some time yet due to corporate inertia.

  3. Nate Amsden

    been living the dream already for the past decade I guess

    And have never touched SDN.

    I guess Trevor has been hassling with Cisco anc perhaps Juniper or others for too long.

    Complex switch configurations? Not here, not the way I do stuff. My switches are easy to manage via CLI (which doesn't remotely resemble a Cisco UI). The layer 3 high availability protocol I use in combination with layer 2 loop prevention is shockingly simple - want to protect a new VLAN ? it's two commands (one command per core switch). Create a new VLAN, assign an IP to it, enable routing for it, and assign 20 different random ports? 4 commands.

    I wrote in depth on this topic almost two years ago and my thoughts have not changed, you can see how I rip into SDN by googling for "So, SDN solves a problem for me which doesn't exist, and never has." if you are really interested.

    My switches do support OpenFlow, and SDN. They have had an "API" for over a decade (never once used it, never needed it).

    I met with Arista a few months ago, I knew they couldn't do anything for us but the boss was friends with the rep (who came from Juniper). I don't get to talk networking very often so I was fine with it. We had a good 2 hour or so conversation. Towards the end they acknowledged they can't add any value for what we do but in the future if we want to do the kinds of things they believe they excel it (all sorts of rapid automation moving VLANs around etc etc) then maybe we can talk again. Since our network management is so simple(and once it's setup it's rarely interfaced again, I have absolutely no need for dynamic VLAN changes) there's no value to be had.

    For me anyway, introducing SDN at the smaller scale means needless complexity. The network already works, is easy to manage, and is simple. I went out of my way to avoid any active-active architectures like TRILL or MLAG, hell I even run entirely active/passive network links on the servers themselves (each server having 4x10G and 2x1G and 2xFibre channel). Boss really liked the idea of TRILL - it was nice to hear Arista come in and agree with me that TRILL is a bad idea(too complicated). Boss's love for active-active really ended when I showed that the new network design I deployed last year employed 80Gbps uplinks (he liked active-active for the additional bandwidth but even for him 80Gbps was going to last probably a decade and it was far simpler).

    My newer 10G switches run on CAT6 cable making life even easier. I was going to deploy 10GbaseT technology 4 years ago but the HP servers at the time had no 10GbaseT NIC offering, now they do, so I am happy about that.

    Simple. Very reliable. Easy to Manage. (pretty cost effective too in the grand scheme of things)

    Not fancy and new though, the UI of my switches, and my fancy layer2/layer3 protection I first deployed 11 years ago(and it wasn't even new then). The ease of use, and this fancy protocol are two of the key reasons I continue to use these same products over the years because they work very well for me. I'm not a network engineer and hopefully the last Cisco switch I will ever touch was in 2008.

    1. sjiveson

      Re: been living the dream already for the past decade I guess


      I don't fundamentally disagree with anything you've said in your comment. However, I think you should state very clearly that you are referring to a very specific architecture, namely, the data centre and 2/3 tier applications, which I think were 'green field' too. I fully agree this can be done simply, relatively cheaply and with minimal ongoing operational overhead. Over-engineering is certainly rampant within the industry and I'm no fan of it. You could probably squeeze most enterprise DCs into a couple of racks these days with a couple of 10/40Gb switches, virtualisation and some hi spec servers.

      Equally, few live within that small space and need to deal with many other areas; large campuses with wireless, WAN, trading floors, store branches, diverse enterprises, mainframes, ridiculous security policies and all the rest. Mix in a healthy dose of regulatory oversight, PCI, SOX, ITIL and service management, plus the usual silos and management incompetence and reality is rather more complex for most, through no fault of their own.

      Of course, vendors capitalise on all this and gently encourage it too, that's the nature of business and it takes people in the right position and circumstances to beat the status quo. I'm glad you have and can, but perhaps a little more awareness and clarity would make your points more relevant.

  4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    @ Nate Amsden

    Nate you nasty man.

    Just think of all the lucrative monthly sales bonuses you are denying to those poor salesmen with your fancy talk. They'll probably all starve now... or worse; they'll become IT recruitment "consultants".

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "they sell it for next to nothing"

    Go on, tell us - how much is "next to nothing"?

    The SSE-X3648S is a switch with 48 x 10 Gig ports and 6 x 40 Gig ports! This isn't the stuff of home networking, or even office networking.

    From Google I found one place in Germany selling it for 5,500 euros. I suspect this is an error.

    I would have thought the SSE-X24S would be cheaper (only 24 x 10 Gig ports), but I only found one UK reseller with it at £7,955.48 (inc VAT, but out of stock), and on E-bay at US $7,699.99. This is not peanuts, in fact this is the same ballpark as a full-fat 10G switch like the Cisco 4500-X.

    Cheapest Supermicro switch I could find was SSE-G2252 for £654 (52 x 1G ports, also out of stock) but it didn't say if this supports SDN at all, or is just a vanilla layer 2 switch.

    When someone releases a switch like this with 8 x 1G ports, *then* we can all play.

  6. sjiveson

    SDN is not Openflow

    Just need to make that clear, it's been a fair while since that was the case.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: SDN is not Openflow

      Cisco's proprietary abortion made out of lock-in and shame doesn't count. I'd just like to make that clear.

      1. sjiveson

        Re: SDN is not Openflow

        It can be hard to say what does.

        Looking forward to the Cumulus review.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like