Impressions from the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress

Panel discussion – Dominique Delisle, Orange;Justin Joubine Dustzadeh, Huawei Technologies; Stu Elby, Verizon; Axel Clauberg, Deutsche Telekom

From 22 to 24 October 2012 more than 300 network experts convened in Darmstadt, Germany, at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress. The purpose of the event was to discuss ways for moving network functions into the software domain that are currently implemented in purpose-specific boxes deployed in specific geographic locations. Such a move would lift constraints currently prohibiting fast service deployment, dynamic response and configuration changes and does have the potential to transform the whole communications industry.

Panel Discussion #2 – Mirko Voltolini, Colt; Chou Wu, Huawei Technologies; Diego López, Telefónica I+D; Don Clarke, BT; Prodip Sen, Verizon

The congress had a strong business focus with many of the industry giants being present along with agile new entrants and start-ups. There was also a particular emphasis on Europe – all major operators from Europe were present.

Andreas Gladisch, Deutsche Telekom – SDN landscape with FP7 European research projects mapped

Vincent Catros, Orange – CloudBox

The industry is clearly abuzz in light of the prospective benefits of SDN and OpenFlow. A lot of the accepted approaches and practices are being questioned in light of the new conceptual framework in almost all areas of networking. Some experts said that the changes SDN and OpenFlow could bring may be the most important changes in the last 20-30 years of network development.

As almost always, such a transformation will not come without throes. Currently, the industry is embracing the SDN concept and is lining up behind it enthusiastically. However, it was already noted that incumbent network operators need to overcome much larger difficulties when deploying this new technology in their networks compared to what data centre providers face. Furthermore, the current enthusiasm somehow presents the concept as an ultimate panacea for each segment of the network, which is almost certainly not the case. Only time will tell, where the real benefit lies.

A clear demonstration of the rapid development in the area was the announcement of a new initiative, the Network Functions Virtualisation. This new initiative is already supported by 13 major providers, and the number is growing. The initiative has found its home within ETSI, and an official meeting of the group is planned for January 2013.

The host of the congress was Deutsche Telekom. DT contributed with a number of talks to the congress, demonstrating its strong interest in the subject and its commitment to move things forward. Besides the high level strategy and vision talks from operators and vendors,  a number of vendors were showcasing some prototypes.

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