Oracle’s acquisition of cloud-based services company Corente topped the headlines this week. As Mike Bushong noted in a recent post, Oracle’s third cloud acquisition and pursuit of SDN pushes the company into closer competition with Cisco. Both IT giants are looking to expand their market capabilities and influence across the IT industry. We think it’s advantageous to expand on solution capabilities, which is why our video of the week explains what Plexxi is doing with Boundary. Check out our video of the week and a few of my reads in the Plexxi Pulse – enjoy!
Arthur Cole at Enterprise Networking Planet says SDN is the top priority for networking, but as organizations rush to push SDN into the wide area, they must recognize that SDN needs to be more evolved. The Google use case mentioned in this article is frequently referenced in networking arguments. The implementation illustrated in this case is in a part of Google’s network where they have complete control and a lot of information. They know what the traffic patterns will be, so they can run the links quite hot. It is a great use case, but as the article points out, this is not running on their Internet-facing side. I suspect the real value for Google is more closely tied to path control. They would love to have algorithmic control over pathing, making technologies like PCE much more interesting. On the content side, technologies like ALTO will be utilized for content request routing. OpenFlow will continue to play a part in many of the architectures, but it is important for would-be users to understand that OpenFlow is one of several tools required to make real use cases work. Accordingly, controller selection needs to consider more than just OpenFlow, and controllers that can support multiple protocols will likely be the safest path forward.
Enterprise Networking Planet contributor Sean Michael Kerner lays out the trends from 2013 that indicate growth in 2014, including SDN and BYOD. I also believe controllers will gain notice in 2014, particularly alongside deployments. As controllers are considered, it is worth noting that operational deployments will eventually rely on monitoring and analytics to close the feedback loop. It is great to provision a flow, but the question is going to be – how is the network performing. If you want dynamic performance, network intelligence will be critical. Beyond that, we should see more work with applications this year. It is not immediately clear how that will happen without the requisite abstractions, but both VMware and Cisco tout their ability to deal with applications. At Plexxi, we have been dealing on the application side for some time.
Rachel Abrams at the New York Times covered the Oracle acquisition of Corente, marking the third large purchase of a cloud-based platform for Oracle. These infrastructure-related acquisitions signal a shift in the competitive landscape. As Oracle pursues software-defined networking, the company will compete with other industry titans like Cisco. CEO John Chambers is intent on being not the number one networking company but rather the number one IT company. This will impact buying patterns, the role of professional services, and ultimately how these companies take products and services to market. I think these acquisitions sometimes fly under the radar, but this is part of a big trend that will change IT in a meaningful way over the next 5 to 10 years.
VentureBeat’s Jordan Novet also covered the Oracle purchase of Corente this week. Jordan explains that Corente allows companies to control networks through a single software interface instead of having administrators manually set configurations on individual pieces of hardware. Oracle will apply this technology to accelerate network set up for customers. On the networking side, we often ignore events at the periphery of our industry, but these acquisitions are potentially important to how the competitive landscape evolves over the next decade. If SDN brings applications and infrastructure together in a more orchestrated, highly-automated way, then both application vendors and infrastructure vendors will move toward each other. Over time, they will eventually clash. The battle to watch is not Cisco versus Arista, but Cisco versus Oracle, and this acquisition pushes Oracle closer into direct competition.
Ethan Banks, a contributor for SearchSDN, provides important questions to ask SDN vendors before deciding to invest in the technology. This is a good list and I particularly enjoyed two points. First, the in-band versus out-of-band (OOB) discussion is very insightful. The majority of potential investors don’t think about this aspect initially, and it addresses some of the controller architectural decision points. Secondly, Ethan’s use the word “open” is targeted for the lock-in discussion. The word “open” is often used too vaguely and without context. I think there are additional questions to consider about how multi-controller environments will work. Does Ethan envision a single controller or redundant controllers? And depending on this choice, what are the failure and maintenance domains? How does this impact upgrades, among other processes?