Dr Strangelove

SDN, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Software-Defined Everything

Dr StrangeloveAs someone who actually practiced atomic bomb drills at public school — “bend over, put your head between your knees and kiss your @$$ goodbye” — ‘Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb‘ was not only a rollicking good black comedy, but a very alarming and cautionary tale. I’m not saying that Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and its kissing cousins like Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) are akin to the end of life as we know it, but…

Software-Defined Everything IS the end of life as we know it.

According to a new study (IDC #239399), the rapid global growth of data and video traffic across all networks, the increasing use of public and private cloud services, and the desire from consumers and enterprises for faster, more agile service and application delivery are driving the telecom markets toward an inevitable era of network virtualization. “SDN and large-scale network virtualization will become a game shifter, providing important building blocks for delivering future enterprise and hybrid, private, and public cloud services,” said Nav Chander, Research Manager, Telecom Services and Network Infrastructure, IDC.

SDN is clearly looming large at the networking industry’s 800-pound gorilla. Cisco’s Chris Young recently blogged why the networking industry is embracing SDN: “lower operational costs and the ability to deploy applications and network services in a quicker, more scalable manner. Cloud bursting, which is about flexible compute in the cloud, is another SDN benefit that gives us the ability for applications to interact directly with the network in ways that do not happen today.”

Meanwhile, over at Cisco frenemy EMC (remember Nicira?), Chuck Hollis, VP, Global Marketing CTO, was blogging about SDDC as the next mountain to climb. “Many might justifiably see SDDC as a linear extension of familiar server virtualization concepts, now being applied to things like storage and networks. While that’s quite true, there’s a much smaller group who sees something far more impactful – a complete re-thinking of cloud-scale IT infrastructures: both software and hardware.”

Hollis said Sun Microsystems’ founder Scott McNealy was presciently correct — “in this world, the network *is* the computer. Hence all of the interest in SDN and things like OpenFlow.”

According to a survey released by Silver Peak last November, 40% of IT managers plan to implement some form of  SDN within the next two years. The growing popularity shouldn’t come as a surprise said Larry Cormier, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, which has seen virtual WAN Op adoption grow 900% in the last year.

SDN, SDDC and Software-Defined Everything are definitely reshaping the world, but it’s a transformation that won’t happen overnight. GigaOM expects SDN, which like any new technology involves a steep learning curve and significant barriers to adoption, should take three to five years to be implemented in mainstream IT organizations.

Still, the Software-Defined Everything clock has started ticking and time is not on network managers/CIOs’ side.

Image via Wikimedia Commons