SDN – OpenFlow Presentation to the IT-MAS students

Last Friday Philipp from the ICCLab gave a presentation about SDN and OpenFlow to ZHAW master students. The big difference is that the average age of the students is higher and all of them are working for many years in the field of IT. Furthermore, most of them have a leading position in their daily work. The content of the presentation is not that detailed an covers basically the two whitepapers from the ONF and openflowhub.org about SDN and OpenFlow. We also talked about the available products in the field of OpenFlow controllers and why SDN in general is such an important thing for the datacenter providers, ISP’s or Carrier Ethernet.

The discussion we had after the presentation contained also some critical voices that addressed problems like:

  • OK, we are vendor independent and have full control over the network but this means also, that we are responsible for it.
  • Is it not easier for SME’s to have a ready made network component from e.g. Cisco instead of programming the logic by themselves?
  • The centralized network controller looks like a single point of failure and without the network, most business applications will not work.
  • Will the programmed network logic inside the controller not bee a huge bunch of code that was before distributed and small on every device?

Of course, we can answer the questions and solve these problems with the SDN paradigm. But the conclusion for us is that we can only get these people on board if we not only talk about SDN concepts but present demonstrators.  What we need at this point are:

  • Concrete working pieces of code and open working network logic that is tested and maintained as e.g. spanning-tree modules.
  • Testbeds and use-cases for implementation, migration and operation.
  • Fully functional and easy to implement network controller modules.

Such people as the master students are needed because they are and/or will be the decision makers. It is also not enough to say: “Look, Google uses it in their wide area network.”

Integration and migration of our existing network infrastructure is exactly what we are planning to do at the ICCLab. I hope that more people will share their knowledge and experience about a successful migration of their classical network to a SDN based infrastructure.