The only reason I recall it was 1984 was because Van Halen happened to christen their seminal album the very same name (you guessed it, 1984). And why was this year and album so monumental to a young lad named Sonny? Well it’s because it also happened to mark the first time I was presented with my very own Sony Walkman. You see, the Walkman embodied so much more than a piece of hardware to play music…it represented auditory freedom to which I was able to escape to from the daily high-pressures that came with being a 4th grader (e.g. Super Sugar Crisp or Captain Crunch for breakfast? G.I. Joe or the Smurfs at 3:00 p.m.?).
It’s only befitting to marvel at how far the mechanisms for delivering music have come. Disruptive technology like those provided by the likes of file-sharing revolutionaries Napster in the late 90’s rocked the music industry to the core and what was once unfathomable is now commonplace with software-driven conduits like Spotify, Pandora and other streaming music services like the newly revamped iTunes Radio becoming the norm for delivering your favorite music. What makes the on-demand music streaming market so enticing is you are no longer dependent on having to lug around bulky mediums like compact disks and being confined to all of 13 songs at any given time. With online streaming music, you have access to millions of songs and thousands of cataloged albums and artists for a nominal monthly fee. I can create and access my own playlists based on my many moods: Death metal when taking my kids to their dreaded doctor appointments or some Bach to replenish my depleted brain cells upon the conclusion of my kids’ doctor appointments. I can access music any time I want from my iPhone, work or home computers and even my car.
Forget Penicillin, online music streaming in my humble opinion has proven to be the most impactful event to human civilization in this modern era.
SDNs are not just another “techy” buzz term being propagated at the latest industry events. In fact, SDNs are very similar to online music streaming in regards to the paradigm shift they will soon cause within their own respective ecosystem.
Quick primer: SDN is basically an approach to networking in which the control plane is decoupled from data plane and given to a software application.. SDN promises to deliver significant benefits including reduced costs and better efficiency to network operations by introducing a layer of software between bare metal network components and the network admins who configure and monitor them. What makes this technology so revolutionary is network admins can now configure and make adjustments to their network devices through a software interface instead of having to manually configure cumbersome hardware and actually physically access the network devices. SDN provides consistent, relatively fast network management by enabling network-wide changes from a single management console.
In today’s current network topologies, proprietary firmware residing on the switch determines where packets of data are sent. With SDN, the network admin can actually play traffic cop and dictate where they want their data to go via a centralized network console that integrates the information and controls all their network switches. With SDN, network admins are no longer at the mercy of expensive switches with proprietary firmware that must be configured manually. They can now configure and set traffic patterns on the fly where and when they want to.
One more thing, the giants of the tech industry have begun to whole-heartedly embrace SDN initiatives including Cisco, IBM, Alactel, Juniper Networks, Broadcom, Citrix Dell, Google, HP, Intel, NEC and Verizon (to name just a few). As an example, VMware recently acquired a SDN based startup called Nicira for a whopping $1.2B to no doubt go after Cisco’s switch market.
Don’t get me wrong; will SDN put switch manufactures out of business? Absolutely not (at least not in the short-term). SDN still have a long way to go before becoming a mature technology with major vendors still having yet to agree on a common set of interoperability standards for all their networked product lines. Until these standards are cemented unilaterally, you will mostly see the early adopters like Google and Amazon drive SDN adoption across their ecosystems. However, you better believe SDN is on every big tech player’s roadmap.
In short, SDN, like online streaming music, has everyone’s attention. The last thing big tech giants want to do is emulate the stodgy, arrogant and inflexible record executives who wrote off and fought online streaming music rather than adopting it. Yes, record companies are “now” coming along but for many it’s a bit too late and the ship has set sail so to speak. Adapt or die, it’s that simple.
Emulex – We understand and embrace SDN
At Emulex, we understand that the I/O system presents a new area of programmability and organizations need to think about how they can leverage I/O systems and architectures to deliver services and improve on end-to-end performance. Organizations need to stay one step ahead of the ever-changing needs of today’s demanding data centers. As you pursue IT initiatives, such as SDN, the experts at Emulex can help by providing the right products, support, service and knowledge transfer to help you fulfill your objectives.
Enterprise Storage Group (ESG) provides excellent information in their Book Project for organizations looking to plan and/or maximize their SDN deployments. Download the full Book Project for the detailed report on Why I/O is strategic to SDN. http://www.emulex.com/solutions/it-initiatives/software-defined-networking.html